BECOMING.

Combining the social spirit and creative flair of Seed Communities, with the contemporary classical styling of the Vonnegut Collective, Becoming.‘ brings new unique voices to classical music composition.

At Seed, we are local musicians writing various genres of songs, electro and hip-hop beats for ourselves, our friends and our communities. We like classical music and hear it in films, games and on television, but we’ve never felt connected to the classical scene and the trained musicians who play in orchestras and chamber ensembles. That was until we met Gemma and Gary from the Vonnegut Collective.  They are trained orchestral musicians with a modern attitude to their work – they like sharing accessible approaches to classical music composition with local communities, making new connections beyond the orchestra, and finding new sources of inspiration for their performances as the Vonnegut Collective.

Enthused by the social and creative values we share, and excited by the various ideas and skills we could all develop through collaboration, we designed a project to bring our musical worlds together. We would explore as a group how we each write our tracks, beats, scores & songs; then visualise and compose, looking for new combinations of creative flair and individual paths towards becoming composers for the Vonnegut Collective.

And so this is the story of our time together developing awesome musical experiences from the studios of Old Trafford, Partington and Broomwood.

We underpinned our project with values inspired by the wise words of Kurt Vonnegut:

“Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

First Composition

The first step in the project was to create a vivid backdrop against which the community compositions could stand in celebration – a lead piece of music that could connect with classical and community audiences alike. So Gemma and Gary spoke to their colleague Tom Harrold. Tom was busy writing his commission for the 2016 Last Night of the Proms, but he can’t resist an opportunity to work in new and unexpected contexts, and so he agreed to write the project’s lead composition, as long as we let him come to the workshops as well.

Tom created ‘Bone Meal’ – a piece inspired by the opening of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five(1969). Tom found similarities in his composition to Vonnegut’s technique of using humour and farce as a means to describe the horrors of war: “There must be tons of human bone meal in the ground.”

We loved the dark and confident sound of Tom’s composition. We have never had a sound quite like this from the studio before and looked forward to complimenting it with our own pieces, tones and styles.

Recording

Bone Meal was recorded at Seed Studios 1 by the Vonnegut Collective. Conducted by the composer himself, the group contrasted the light and airy atmosphere of the space with the dark and heavy rasps of ‘Bone Meal’.

Composition
Workshops

With the recording in hand, Gemma, Gary & Tom toured all 3 Seed Communities sharing, learning and creating with groups of local Seed Musicians.

The workshops were great opportunities to share stories and knowledge about our individual creative techniques and inspirations. The diversity available from our approaches to expression and storytelling made for a rich and vibrant conversation with more ideas and unexpected moments of inspiration than we knew what to do with.

They gave us great insight into various composition processes and made us realise that whatever approach was used, we were the most important part. They showed us new ways we could communicate our most sincere and innate creative ideas through drawing and writing so the performers could respond musically to the visuals. We really tapped into that natural creativity that is often lost when we grow older. Finding it helped us truly understand Kurt Vonnegut’s meaning behind the experience of ‘Becoming’.

“Using accessible creative processes…I felt relaxed and confident exploring my ideas.”

“Expanding my aims, desires and confidence in creating original music.”

“[I] am sure that whatever emerges will be interesting and totally unexpected”

We captured our reflections on the workshops to help better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the activities. We found the classical musicians as relevant in the studios as every other musician, generally welcoming further diversity for more sources of inspiration. The experiences were rewarding in so many ways for most of us, but there were some occasional challenges with the childlike and abstract composition methods. Below are all the answers we gave to two simple questions.

  • Helped me express my ideas in multiple different ways that I shall forever use and develop.
  • Learning a new approach to music.
  • Expanding my aims, desires and confidence in creating original music.
  • Very profound analysis of orchestral scores.
  • Opened new doors to musical composition.
  • I am learning a new language. As a visual artist learning more about music. The workshop is a fantastically inspiring opportunity to imagine and learn about making music, and the sounds musicians are able to make!
  • Interesting perspective on composition, using graphics to compose for musicians. Really, quite bonkers; but at the same time enjoyable.
  • Gemma could interpret my thoughts musically and display them, I felt inspired.
  • Not sure how to answer this
  • They allowed me to explore different methods in the composition process.
  • Iconic associations i.e. we have things in music mimicking other events e.g. birds and thundering, suggests other emotional characteristics.
  • A New Experience
  • Beautifully intuitive
  • Fantastic with what I’ve learnt
  • Eye opener!
  • Liberating; permissive
  • I’m Somewhat a perfectionist; and am endeavouring to score for an orchestra, so feel it’s all a little childish. But for beginner musicians and wannabe musicians with little experience of composition, I would highly recommend
  • Illuminating
  • I found it quite stressful creating in such and abstract way, but I guess it kinda worked
  • Wonderful: a completely new experience. The musicians are quite amazing and extremely helpful
  • I found the methods easy and enjoyable to follow
  • The musicians gave us a variety of tools, using accessible creative processes. This meant I felt relaxed and confident about exploring my ideas
  • Refreshing

Concerts

And then the finalé – a series of concerts presented our compositions, performed by the Vonnegut Collective as a 5-piece chamber ensemble, with special appearances from some of us too. Community concerts across Trafford led the way to a celebration at Manchester Central Library where Bone Meal was also premiered. And so the Seed Composers sat alongside Tom Harrold, amongst members of the public to celebrate the ‘Becoming’ values, collaborations and creations.

Manchester Central Library
Wednesday 21st September
18:30 – 19:30

Photos Credit – ©Bernadette Delaney Photography

Community Concerts

Monday 19th September
Open rehearsals

Coppice Library
Partington Library

Tuesday 20th September
Community Concerts

Broomwood Wellbeing Centre
Old Trafford Wellbeing Centre

Community Works

We will collect the community recordings here as we process them at the studio.

HealthForm - People's Health Trust

Thank you to all the supporters of this project – and thank you for reading all the way to the bottom of the page!