There is a little backstory behind this song making experience in that I was actually volunteering at Terra Una ecovillage for the month of April learning gardening, cooking and reconnecting with the earth after some intense workshops in Brazil, when the Gaia Education course happened.
According to their website the Gaia Education programme “aims to equip students of all ages with the practical skills and analytical depth to design a society which uses energy and materials with greater efficiency, distributes wealth fairly and strives to eliminate the concept of waste. Students learn how to become sustainability designers and change agents taking active roles in transitioning their existing communities, institutions and neighbourhoods, to more sustainable patterns of production and consumption, as well as leading more joyful, meaningful and healthier lives”.
It was an honour and somewhat a synchronicity, to be invited to offer a song making experience during Gaia Education course during one of their free evening workshop slots – My interest for being at Terra Una ecovillage was to learn more about living sustainably with the earth and here was an education programme teaching just that! Further I feel The Human Sound Project really fitted with the ideals of the course, after all what kind of community can exist sustainably without music and dance? 😉
We started with some musical warmup games such as call and response singing and toning and dance. It seemed like everyone in the room was ready to pounce on the music they were so enthused!
After consultation with Diogo, one of the educators of the Gaia programme, we decided that given this particular module of the Gaia education programme was on the economic dimension of sustainable design, we would ask participants to share stories about projects they had been involved in where the money from the project was not the motivating force but a natural result of the participant’s passion for the project – this concept was apparently a central idea in the economic module of the Gaia programme.
Stories were being shared in groups of three when the power went out! The group quickly adapted with candles and torch light which made the storytelling experience even more special. From the stories words were transcribed and these words were collated and placed in the centre of the circle. Again, another power failure. Torches/flashlights and candles came out. This was were the unity of the group also started to shine. In the near darkness the group managed to form a collective set of lyrics, write a sweet set of chords on the guitar (thanks to Diogo Guarani Kaiowá) and put the lyrics to the guitar line. From that point, my job was easy! Impassioned by the group’s cohesion and musicality, and the fact that the power came on in the last second, I quickly recorded the guitar chords, solos and the chorus. I then led the group in some circle singing, improvising the rest of the backing vocals and recording as we went along. Some reggae/dub beats and a bassline and voilà we had our song!
I then played DJ bringing in and out the layers and beats that the group had created while the group started to dance. And dance they did! A big circle dance ensued and eventually everyone was just going crazy dancing around the room freeform individually and in groups to the music they had created!
From my perspective, it was a really heartwarming experience to work with the people attending Gaia Education; despite the many power failures we effortlessly managed to put together an incredible song and have a lot of fun together. And from all reports the song was a hit as participants were singing it for the rest of the week, in the kitchen, the dining hall and from what I hear, even during the performance night on the last evening of the course.
I want to thank the organisers of Gaia Education at Terra Una for making this experience possible and all the participants too for being awesome! Many of you will stay lifelong friends and even a few of you will be future collaborators in The Human Sound Project. This song ‘Flor E Ser’ will ensure the memories live on.