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Katie Rose
from: Katie Rose
Category: General Discussion

The Singing Tardis

 The Singing Tardis
 Musical Time Travel

One of the things that amazes me about my experience of sounding is how it can bring create connections across time and space.  The creative process of interacting with a song and its story, draws me into the present moment of my own story and creates a transformation whose effects extend into the future.

Every song has a lineage behind it and a context from which it emerged, so singing it connects me to an amazing tapestry of colours and flavours.  Whenever I sing, I become present to myself and become very aware of my sensations, feelings, thoughts, intentions, and the connections I am making with others around me.  Those connections often sow seeds for the future experiences, relationships and collaborations.

Just this week I’ve been learning songs for community music project with babies and recalling nursery rhymes my parents sang to me, having learned them in their own early years.  I’m now singing these songs with babies who will sing way beyond my time on the planet.  Singing becomes a creative form of time travel which enables me to connect with my ancestors, my family, members of my community and the future generation.

The story that goes back and back and back and on and on and on…

On 10th November I’m due to perform a 16 verse song, Lord Allenwater, at a gig with the False Beards (a duo composed of Ian Anderson and Ben Mandelson who perform ‘old time english blues psych folk world twangery’)  The song tells the tale of the final days of Lord Derwentwater, who was beheaded in 1716 for his participation in the Jacobite rebellion.  The transmission of it is also a tall tale, for it was collected by Ralph Vaughn Williams in 1904 from Emily Stears, who happens to be the great grandmother of Ian Anderson, who was actually taught the song by the Shirley Collins before realising he was ancestrally related to it.  

When I first heard Ian sing Lord Allenwater in his kitchen sometime in 2008-ish, a musical light bulb combusted in my head and I had immediate desire to sing it, an inspiration which manifested last year when we recorded it for the False Beards EP Ankle.  Lord Allenwater has a lot to answer for because before I heard his noble tale sung (I’ve always had a soft spot for rebels) I’d never felt any desire to return to the folk songs I heard in my childhood.  That first spark of connection ignited a process that later resulted in an EP (fol-de-rose) an album (Empty Cup) and some very strange experiences along the way, both with and without beards.  What a difference a song makes…!

The fluidity of time

Time becomes very fluid in musical experience, so much so that it is actually impossible to extricate past, present and future into neat parcels.  My experience of sound teaches me that time is cyclic and is constantly echoing, resonating, remembering, returning and recreating itself.  I realise that past, present future are not fixed destinations but actually simultaneously interacting layers of reality.

In his recent speech on receiving the PEN/Pinter Prize, Information is Light, Tom Stoppard quotes Harold Pinter as saying  “If the past can be obscure, why not the present?" explaining that “other people's lives come at us without a backstory most of the time. The present is like that.” 

The present is an immensely rich and amazing moment in time, inextricably interconnected with our backstory and burgeoning with future possibilities.  Paradoxically it’s full potential is often most fully enjoyed when we forget everything and forsee nothing.

Recovering the imagined lands

All artforms invite us to engage in a process of sustained concentration which brings us into a meditative state of self-reflection in the now. In this state it is possible to untangle our backstories, fully enjoy the present and chart a clear pathway ahead.  We are also able to connect with the stories of those who have come, gone and will walk alongside or beyond us. 

Neil Gaiman, describes in his article Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming how reading enables us to develope empathy - a vital ingredient for social cohesion.

“You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed.

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.”

Singing enables me to time travel to other stories, places, states of mind and realms of reality.  I am daily transformed by the liberating force of the sound current as it flows through me, prompting reflection, remembrance, renewal.

The Communion that Creates Community

In my work supporting others to sing and express themselves, I witness individuals retrieving the power of their expression from places where it was previously locked away in their back story.  Through creative dialogue with our stories, the future becomes full of new possibilities. The vibrant, empathic connections created by people who sing in groups enables them to join together to make a difference in the world.

Ultimately for me sounding continually creates states of communion within individuals which then enables them to create a community which includes all the stories that have gone before, are still being told and are yet to be told.

The Singing Tardis offers us all the chance to play Doctor Who, to take hold of the immense power of all that time has, is and will be and bring our full imagination and creativity to the task of transforming our worlds.

Wishing you creative, imaginative and transformational travels

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