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Category Archives: Commissions
Earlier this year I was asked to write and record a song for a DVD being made by Blythswood Care.
The DVD will be shown in churches around Scotland (and possibly beyond) as part of their Shoebox Appeal ’09 in which people are asked to fill an empty shoebox with items such as toiletries, clothes, stationery and sweets for someone in need in Eastern Europe, India or Pakistan.
Last year 132,000 shoeboxes were sent out, bringing the total since the appeal began in 1993 to 1,122,000.
The song I wrote for the short film (which you can watch above) is called ‘Love Come Down‘.
The super-talented Mark Hilditch played keyboards on both songs.
You can find out more about Blythswood’s Shoebox Appeal here.
Last year I was asked to write and record the soundtrack for a short film entitled ‘The Other Side of Air‘.
The film is a documentary about an Inverness-based arts initiative where artists were invited to explore what it means to be spiritual in modern life.
I have a few copies of the DVD to give away – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like me to send you free copy.
You can view the entire film here:
(I’m a bit of an amateur at uploading videos and for some reason the volume is pretty quiet so you’ll have to turn it up!)
(This track is the 4th from a new collection of songs entitled Commissions 2008-2009. The 1st one is here. The 2nd is here. The 3rd is here. I’ll be releasing more songs from it via this blog over the next few weeks.)
As well as recording The Bad Weather Song with the school-children, I also recorded them reading out haikus which they had written based around the theme of water and weather. These were to be incorporated into a second song which DUFI asked me to write.
Here are a few of the haikus:
“An ocean of water splashes
Waves of curly spray foam
Cold and wet”
“Twirling and gently falling
From the grey cloudy sky
White soft snowflakes”
“Tender sore heart
Clearing sadness from your eye”
“Hard cold solid
on wintry paths and roads
slippy frozen water”
This last haiku was sand-blasted into Baron Taylor Street itself, as you can see here, and in the picture at the top of this post.
After I recorded the children reading their haikus at the school, I then drove to Baron Taylor Street itself and recorded several minutes worth of outdoor/ambient noise. Both of these recordings provided the basis of the song.
After adding drum loops, several synth sounds, piano, feedback and a sample of a sound-effect from my 3-year old son’s toy garage (!) and then pulling it all together in ProTools, I then came across these verses in Psalm 147:
He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
These are beautifully evocative verses, and when I read them I thought of the song I was working on straight away. The melody came to me instantly as well – hard to take credit for it really.
I’m really happy with the way the song has turned out, and thankfully so were DUFI.
I hope you like it….more on the way soon.
(Photos by Fin Macrae)
Calamateur – The Bad Weather Song.mp3
(This track is the 3rd from a new collection of songs entitled Commissions 2008-2009. The 1st one is here. The 2nd is here. I’ll be releasing more songs from it via this blog over the next few weeks.)
Last year I was asked by art-guerrilla duo DUFI to work with Cauldeen Primary School to produce a musical response to the street-text project that is part of the larger redevelopment of Inverness Old Town.
‘The Bad Weather Song’ was one of two songs that came out of my visit to the school – and it’s not the kind of thing you’ll have heard by me before!
calamateur at Cauldeen Primary School
When Fin Macrae of DUFI, one of the artist groups involved in the Inverness City Streetscape Project, phoned me up to ask me to do “something musical” with the kids at Cauldeen Primary School, my initial reaction was, to be honest, total fear.
“Work with children?!” I panicked. “Write a kids song?!”
Not, in my defence, that there’s anything wrong with children (I do have one after all, with two more on the way) but, given a choice between playing to a rowdy crowd in the Market Bar on a Saturday night and doing a musical workshop with children, I would take the former, thank you very much. “But”, I thought, “it’s a few weeks away, the money’s good…..I’m sure it’ll be fine…gulp”.
How wrong I was…as it wasn’t just fine, it was fantastic. The P.5 & 6’s at Cauldeen Primary are an amazing bunch – full of life and enthusiasm, bright, and pretty good singers to boot.
When it came to writing a song for the class to sing and perform, DUFI themselves provided a lot of the ideas. The drain covers being designed for Baron Taylor Street read: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just different kinds of weather.”
When Fin told me about it, I thought the phrase would make a great chorus and, knowing that the overall theme that DUFI had taken on board was based on weather and water, I thought it would be good to take 3 examples of wet weather and write a verse for each – snow, rain and hail.
Later on in the song you’ll hear the sound of some very heavy rain…. or at least you think you will have. Maybe the BBC Radiophonic Workshop should re-open, employing the Cauldeen P.5 & 6 class, as their job of re-creating the sound of wet weather with just their fingers, hands and feet is pretty incredible. The finishing touch on the song is a great organ part by Mark Hilditch, a fantastic keyboard player who I’ve played with for several years now.
Recording the song with the class was a total joy and, when I visited the school again two weeks later, they could remember the words and melody straight away, despite having not heard it since the day we recorded it – I told you these kids were bright. On that visit, I recorded the children individually, reading out some haiku’s they had written for DUFI a few weeks previously and also some silly phrases you’ll hear scattered throughout ‘The Bad Weather Song’. The recordings of their haiku’s will be used in another musical piece I’m currently writing – a more ambient, more typically Calamateur-esque track, it features the children’s voices as well as a recording I made later that same day in Baron Taylor Street of it’s everyday comings and goings.
Thanks to DUFI for this great opportunity and to the P.5 & 6 teacher & class at Cauldeen Primary for making it a lot of fun.
(Photos by Fin Macrae)
Iain Morrison – Folklore & Distant Creed (Calamateur remix).mp3
(This track is the second from a new collection of songs entitled Commissions 2008-2009. The first one is here. I’ll be releasing more songs from it via this blog over the next few weeks.)
I first met him at the wonderful Greenbelt Festival about 6 or 7 years ago. We’ve been mutual fans pretty much ever since.
When Iain was putting together his second album, ‘Skimming Stones… Sinking Boats’ he got in touch and asked if I would be up for remixing a song, originally taken from his first album, to go on his new one. I jumped at the chance and, after much editing, tweaking and general faffing about in ProTools, eventually finished the remix you can listen to at the top of this post.
I’m really happy with it and am looking forward to hearing Iain’s new album, which is being recorded by the immensely talented (and similarly named!) Iain Hutchison.