Blogging at 11011m



11000-metresSomewhere between Brazil and the West African coast…

Going from two weeks of intense daily preparation, head first into a 26 hour void of air travel, whispering airport lounges and sleepily browsing my iPod – it’s a strange thing. Trying to tune out of the never-decreasing to do list that has been my life recently, and adapt to this calm, voyager state.

With the invaluable help of Alex Ivanovich, Ivan Riches, school staff and TA’s, I collated a large bank of video recordings of disabled musicians of different ages, all playing at a unified BPM and in the same key. the ITM student at Claremont, the CEDA musicians, Charlotte White on clarinet and Dame Evelyn Glennie herself making a magical contribution on three extraordinary one-off instruments. This was all possible with the encouragement and help of Carien and Delia, as I managed to pull off a successful Arts Council Artist Development  bid.

I wanted to take my recent collaborative Brazil/UK work (Skype jam/remixing between CEDA and Brazilian rapper Billy Saga), up a gear. My vision: a live show unifying disabled and non-disabled musicians from both countries in a meaningful stage show that broke barriers and brought people together regardless of location, language or physically disabling barriers faced by the musicians.

On stage would be a combo of Brazilian musicians, performing live to an accompanying film of the UK guys, locked to the same beat and key. Have the idea, think of the logistics later – I like to keep projects really simple…

The footage comprises a motley selection of video formats- from gritty webcam and iPhone clips to top notch HD, so I needed something to bring the stew together in a cohesive way – top notch synced audio! So using logic 9, iMovie, MPEG streamclip and tea I set about exporting audio, tweaking certain notes with Celemony Melodyne and adding effects beds in Logic. They lost their plasticky minijack tone and became quite moving ethereal sounds.

This took me Eons to do with the trip looming, so I asked Ivan to help. He was legendary, and filmed Evelyn Glennie while I captured the pristine audio. Now he is an integral part of this part of the journey and is creating the film.

Fast forward to the wee hours of last night…

I kicked it off at Heathrow when I realised at 3 am that the airport only opens at 5. Zombied passengers trying to sleep on metal benches, the low hum of huge vents, cafes all closed, there was only one soundtrack suitable: Brian Eno’s Music for Airports. I have new headphones so I checked in to that terminal.

I had carved down my packing list, but the core kit held its place:

– My ageing MacBook

– iPhone 5 for on-the-fly stuff

– Trusty alto sax

– Plentiful pressies for my Brazilian family

Plus, kindly loaned by Soundbeam, Skoog Music and Drake:

Sound beam 5, wireless switch box, beams and switches


Makey Makey

New retina iPad (Doug’s brilliant Yammer thread was invaluable)

The above gear will form the basis for my walk-in accessible music studio at Reatech, the accessibility and inclusion tech fair, which takes place next week in São Paulo and Milan. With the Brazilian NPO Mais Diferenças, who have invited me, I hope to show people what is possible using both low-tech and more advanced setups, and on the final day put it all into context.

I am equally excited about having a traditional Brazilian feijoada bean stew, a bowl of açaí, the odd caipirinha and above all seeing some of my greatly missed friends and family, and of course my wife Sabrina.

The Brazilian connection!

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