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)