Thursday, 21 October 2010

Writing & Sound Workshops

Tired but glad to have seen the amazing Mid and North Devon countryside on the way there and back, we've just finished another set of sound and writing and storytelling by sound workshops for a Science of Sound Week at a school in Woolsery near Bideford. The workshops went well, although the age group which mine was aimed at didn't seem to get the hang of it as well as the last class with whom we hosted the workshop. However, for the soundscapes part, some participants did come up with some very poetic suggestions - sounds that reminded them of time travel, museum exhibits coming alive at night time, roundabouts moving by themselves at midnight, zombies emerging from the grounds of a haunted house, the stars twinkling, going cosmic in worlds dancing, and other striking visual images called up by the sounds. The maximum number of words collected was 85 - and mighty pleased with themselves that participant was! very justifiably. Deor's workshop was something of a triumph, as while tailored for younger pupils, it was not intended for those who could not yet read nor write! so when some six year olds came in, he had to think on his feet! But we found ways to help them along, and out of the groups creating sound tableaux, 'when dinosaurs roamed the earth' was an absolute winner! I had had no idea what they were going to try and recreate the sounds of, but guessed from the large creature noises followed by the chopping and cracking of bones as they ate small mammals! Also brilliant were the group that chose 'inside a volcano' - the rushing lava and explosions were just great. The other thing that probably impressed me most was the distinction between normal footsteps and the sound of footfalls on stairs!
   Both these workshops run risks - the noise based one that of descending into cacophony, if everyone starts making their own noise without regard to others, and/or gets sound confused too much with movement and so thinks that acting or movement will do just as well. The sound words one, always risks the participants using films, serials, videos and readymade imaginings instead of using their own inner eyes. But we each think that these risks are worth running, because - as well as managing to keep in check both the 'not listening to others becoming too obsessed with one's own noise' and the 'giving readymade visuals as examples without using one's own brains' phenomena - when participants do come up with incredibly clever and convincing sound tableaux or beautiful and unusual poem-sentences or descriptive fragments/quirky word suggestions, it's very rewarding, and you can see it expanding their conceptual base when it comes to new ways of looking at sound, whether for communication, paying attention to the world around them, or for literary, accuracy of terms and making better definitions to identify the world around them and the ideas which it evokes and inspires. So another successful day's work - and the trees on the way, all gold among the still deep greens, and blue washed sky with grey smear flying saucer clouds and a delicious bronzy gold antique old masters long low slanting light of sun, reminded me of nothing so much as our colours workshops...

Thanks to the Head teacher for finding us such an excellent speaker for the sounds, our workshop assistant and most of all to Yolande of Bideford College for booking us yet again.   

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