CNMN > Projects > Across the Lines

Steve Wright

  • Acoustic instruments
  • Rock band instruments
  • Digital devices
  • Seniors

3-5 2-hour workshops

  • Community associations
  • Health
  • Memory
  • Memory conditions (e.g. Dementia care, Alzheimer

Across the Lines


A com­mu­ni­ty-based col­lab­o­ra­tion fea­tur­ing orig­i­nal local music paired with the sto­ries and sounds of seniors resid­ing in an assist­ed liv­ing centre

Over the course of mul­ti­ple work­shops, get to know par­tic­i­pants so a bond can be formed and par­tic­i­pants will feel open to shar­ing. Dur­ing the workshops:

  1. Using a hand held dig­i­tal recorder, record and cat­a­logue sound as much as pos­si­ble, which will allow for many ran­dom moments that may sur­pris­ing­ly lead to song titles, or themes. Cap­ture sounds unique to the indi­vid­u­als engaged. These sounds can be looped or pitched and used to make beats or rhythms spe­cif­ic to the locale, and be used to teach that ordi­nary sounds can be musical.

  2. Let par­tic­i­pants try instru­ments and/or music apps on devices. See Sheila and Steve sit down to cre­ate ‘Hope’ as an exam­ple of intro­duc­ing some­one to an instru­ment for the first time. For try­ing music apps, see Ger­maine steps up to the iPad for the first time. Tell par­tic­i­pants there is “no wrong way” to touch the screen and make a sound, and that often­times being naive is an advan­tage because they will do some­thing new. Put them at ease by casu­al­ly try­ing it in front of them and show­ing them that it’s easy to do. Record these to use as seg­ways, intros, or full tracks.

  3. Dur­ing the record­ing of voic­es for work­shops, encour­age con­ver­sa­tions on themes. This will give a sense of play to the project and process and bring mean­ing to par­tic­i­pants. Some exam­ples include: “Where were you born?” “Have you ever had a nick­name?” What was your favourite toy as a child?” “What’s your biggest fear?”

  4. Be open and present to rec­og­nize a mag­ic moment – be it group laugh­ter or a seri­ous sto­ry, and use that to anchor the song/piece.

  5. Gath­er musi­cians to play a score that has been cre­at­ed (a num­ber of short instru­men­tals or songs) or impro­vise music and edit pieces or moments into short clips of music (2–5 mins) that will fit well with the length of a short sto­ry. Use orig­i­nal record­ings from par­tic­i­pant engage­ment with apps in work­shops to include as back­drop pieces of music. Exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of instru­ments: drums and voice, gui­tar and bass, full band, etc. Use the “keep­ing turn­ing left” mod­el of doing some­thing oppo­site of what was just impro­vised: change keys, change tem­po, change instruments.

  6. Lis­ten to the record­ings of the sto­ries and choose which musi­cal piece would fit well, based on theme, lan­guage, mood, and length, or ran­dom­ly com­bine work­shop record­ings with music.

  7. Edit the sto­ries if nec­es­sary, cre­at­ing space between words, and treat the mate­r­i­al as son­ic or musi­cal moments, or leave the cho­sen sto­ry in it’s orig­i­nal state and let the music and sto­ry be inde­pen­dent of each oth­er, all the while being combined.

  8. A strong idea to cre­ate mean­ing and flow is to edit a word or sec­tion and repeat it as you would a cho­rus of a song. Many times you will find sen­tences that have their own rhythm work well when com­bined with music of a dif­fer­ent tem­po and/or rhythm.

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