Between November 2013 and February 2014, Drake Music – Connect & Collaborate London provided mentoring and technical support for Carlo Keshishian and Phil Baird, artists/musicians from Network Arts Lewisham to facilitate their Music and Animation Project. This support was given by our associate musician Gary Day and filmmaker/animator/musician Ian Patterson. The project was set up in partnership with Network Arts Lewisham, offering creative services to people living in Lewisham who have severe and enduring mental health support needs, and the Horniman Museum Community Engagement Team.
Our part in the project was to empower and support our chosen artists to create an animation with music from ethnological instruments from the Horniman Museum hands on collection. Phil and Carlo facilitated music and drawing/animation workshops at the Horniman Museum and Network Arts Studio for other artists from SELAN (South East London Arts Network). Many of the instruments were too hard to play, apart from percussion, as they were not physically accessible, damaged or un-tuneable. Thanks to Gawain Hewitt, our very own technical ‘wiz kid’, we were able to make some incredible recordings to ‘break down barriers’ and make those sounds accessible to our participants via AMT (assistive music technology), so that they could play them on iPads using ‘ThumbJam’ a truly amazing and easy to use iPad application. Gary helped Carlo to record each participant play an iPad or live instrument and Ian facilitated Phil to work with the other artists to produce images for animation.
The final animation ‘Ethnomusicality’ was premiered at the BFI Southbank on the 10th of March 2014. The film will go on our Website, Network Arts Lewisham and The Hornimam museum Websites. I t will also be shown on ‘Community Music Day’ at the Horniman Museum on the 30th of March.
From here on I wish to tell the story of this wonderful project through the artist’s, mentor’s/technician’s and partners own words:
Carlo Keshishian, artist/musician
It has been very useful having Gary’s support at the two workshops we ran at the Horniman in terms of his role in providing the ipads and microphones to record with, and being in charge of getting good quality recordings, setting the levels so as to avoid distortion, room noise etc.. It certainly takes some pressure off and allows me to focus on other aspects of the process. Gary has also come to my home studio for one session where I played him the compositions I’d been working on, using the Network Arts source material recorded at the Horniman, and it is always good to have a second pair of ears to bounce off of and get a different/fresh perspective. His input into how to go about tackling a slightly problematic rumbling noise from one of the instruments on one of the recordings was useful also.
Gary Day, associate musician, menotor and technincal support
As part of Drake Music’s Connect and Collaborate, I was invited to support an experienced musician (Carlo) in a recent project called ‘Music and Animation’.
My prior experience with this project involved recording members from the SELAN (South East London Arts Network) playing a selection of acoustic instruments from around the world which were provided byThe Horniman museum, sampled by Gawain Hewitt and then imported into iPad app Thumb Jam. (http://thumbjam.com/)
The group chose to play and record a mix of the acoustic instruments and the samples within Thumb Jam. I transferred the raw recordings to Carlo for his editing and arrangement.
I worked with Carlo listening through his arrangements of the recordings at his home studio in Kennington exploring different mix options and ideas. Carlo is a very experienced artist who did not require artistic support in doing the actual mixing or mastering, but on a few occasions we shared different mixing techniques, exchanging the pros and cons of older and newer music software and experimented with different plugins/effects within the ‘Logic Pro’ software used to record and mix the composition. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic_Pro)
From spending time with Carlo I learned that he has a very pure and organic approach when it comes to composition, editing and mixing – one example is when the animation reel showed a clip of an accordion, but we realised that there was no actual accordion recorded in the previous recording sessions! The easiest solution (I thought) was for Carlo to record in a new accordion part, but he didn’t really like this idea, so we thought about the options and Carlo decided to use a recording of a balafon performance, which one of the group recorded and we then convert the audio recording to midi, which enabled us to choose any instrument sound, in this case a sampled accordion sound, which worked really well, meaning that way Carlo still had the persons original performance, only now as a different instrument sound.
Carlo said it was helpful to have someone to bounce creative ideas off and discuss ideas with. I understand this, as when I’m mixing I prefer to have my own space and time to get into it, and when I feel it’s taking shape, some input from fresh ears is always welcome!
Interestingly, one creative dilemma, which challenged us for a while, was the tone of the drum in the opening picture, which had a distorted like rattle in the audio recording. We know it was cleanly recorded and the rasping post sound from the drum was purely vibrations and was the actual sound of that drum – although, it could be mistaken for distortion/clipping. So, there was a little anxiety about how it might sound when mastered and coming through a large PA system at BFI…should we ‘EQ’ it out? Add distortion to it? We experimented with both and after bypassing the many plugins, decided to embrace the natural sound of the drum and performance of the drum. A classic mix scenario!
Phil Baird, artist/musician
It has been a pleasure and a steep learning curve working with Ian. Ian has a very focused responsive approach, and a can do attitude we started the project on first meeting and he has met every question that has meant the development of the project from the start. Ian was the ideal animator for the project he ensures that he is adaptable to balancing professionalism with the various levels of people’s engagement ability and health. He is quick and clear to respond to requests.
Ian has also skilfully set up improvisatory equipment and practicality. He has been clear throughout and gone the extra mile including giving up on his sleep while in Australia to skype with us about the film and make arrangements upon his return. I would recommend Ian for future projects of a similar nature I have also learned much about the animation technique including the theory of the process, and techniques and this learning will help with developing a school of animation at Network Arts.
Ian Patterson, associate artist/musician, menotor and technincal support
“My name is Ian Patterson and I am a multimedia artist specializing in digital art and design.
I have visited The SELAN Centre as a guest on a couple of occasions in the past and on these visits I met Phil Baird. Phil was aware of my skill set, comfortable with my demeanor and as such, approached me to assist him as animator for this project.
I made a couple of visits to The Horniman Museum with Phil and the members of SELAN and in assisted workshops we were given hands-on access to some of their musical instruments and puppetry artifacts. At these sessions I introduced some of the groups members to the fundamentals of stop-frame animation with basic resources.
Using the Horniman visits as inspiration, back at the SELAN Centre, the service users created drawings of the instruments they had handled and puppets they’d seen and together we thought of interesting ways to create motion in them using stop-frame animation.
The results were mixed but the final film has a genuine feel of fun about it. We now have a five-minute short made of individual set-pieces from a group of people who only weeks before, had no idea how to animate.
The project itself has been both challenging and rewarding and I would gladly assist Drake Music in any similar future projects.”
Mo Saunders, Director of Network Arts Lewisham
It was a really enjoyable project and the end result is delightful….well done to all involved but particularly Carlo and Phil. I think Rachel’s idea of an evaluation meeting is a brilliant one. It would be good to talk through what worked really well and anything that didn’t work so well. I will be giving the participants from SELAN and evaluation to complete so this can feed into our meeting. All the best for now, have a great weekend. Regards, Mo
Rachel Harrison, Horniman Museum Community Engagement Officer
Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed seeing the resulting animation and hearing the composition on Monday. I thought you did a wonderful job working to a complex brief. But it made me very happy to see the result – much much respect to you all! As soon as I get a copy I will add it to the Horniman website.
I think it would be beneficial for us all to sit down soon and talk through the partnership. So an evaluation meeting – we could talk through how this model that involved 3 partners worked, and what we could do together in the future.What do you think? I can send you some dates and co-ordinate a meeting if you like?
Best wishes to you all, and again WELL DONE on your sparkling BFI premier success
Ivan Riches, Producer Connect & Collaborate London
This project has been an amazing adventure for all involved. Here is a short film about the making of ‘Ethnomusicality’ by SELAN and Network Arts Lewisham.
And last but not least ‘Ethnomusicality’ in all its splendour, Congratulations Carlo, Phil, SELAN artists, Gary, Ian and Gawain, this is an amazing achievement.
Ivan Riches Producer Connect & Collaborate London