Ten Titles

Ten Titles

Howdy Folks,

For those who have had a gander and maybe a listen I thought I'd write a little something about a project I got into a while back.

The Ten Titles Project.

Quite a number of years ago I had a startling experience. Soon after the 2006 bombs on London's public transport, I found myself on a bus in Edinburgh and a feller got on fitting what I have to admit was a media fueled stereotype, wearing a backpack.

Before I could even catch myself I felt a nudge a fear somewhere inside, followed by utter shame and horror at the extent to which the media had cultivated a response that I was rationally and ideologically opposed to.

That same year the band travelled to Borneo for the World Music Festival there in the Rainforest. Each night we played music by the pool until far too late and I met and became good friends with two guys - both string pickers.

One was Caleb Klauder from the Foghorn String Band, and the other was Khaled Arman from Ensemble Kaboul. There we were, at the height of the terror panic in the western world, with war being fought ferociously between west and middle east, an american, an afghani and an aussie playing music together til sunup for four nights straight and having a dip in the pool before "bed".

Quite a profound time. Angus commented during one especially vibrant night where Tarike Be's Madagascan band joined in as did representatives from every continent - "Look at it all! It can be this easy!"

That rainforest festival combined with my own reaction on the bus got me thinking about the media, the connectivity we have these days, and the vastly opposing realities I experience. On the one hand that difference is something to be feared, to be guarded against and ultimately to be fought, and the other was how enriching it is to experience difference.

My response was to arbitrarily choose ten different titles, all reflecting parts of what I think it is to be an engaged human being. Titles that are a bit oblique and leave room for interpretation. I started to write music, one piece for each title and sent out a call for anyone I knew to do the same and to share ideas and works in progress. I had this grand vision of artists from around the world creating things about the topic - being alive - and that in some way that would be a show of defiance to this idea that we should fear one another.

Further plans were for an online archive, a multimedia festival... and so on and so on. Really I was a kid going to my first buffet and loading the plate with far more than was actually possible to consume. :) Youthful exuberance and optimism made my eyes rather large!

As it turned out though, a wonderful street artist in Mexico City put up ten murals and/or installations for the titles, my friend and poet Kate Fagan included her responses in her most recent poetry collection First Light, and I got two short essays - both from a 13 year old who had seen the band play at the rainforest festival. Incredibly touching for me.

I also got the momentum to record the suite of music I had written. With some funding from the Scottish Arts Council I was able to scrape together a budget (thanks also to incredibly generous friends, family and collaborators!), and journeyed a rag tag team of people to the southern Peloponnese in Greece for a week of music making.

I have decided that until the time comes when I can legitimately release it - i.e with the support of a group that can tour something similar - I will make it available on Soundcloud.

Hope you like it.

n.b. I have put the most fundamental title as a solo piano piece, to finish the suite. I felt it deserved separation from all the rest.