Mercy me! Songwriters let off steam to go green
The project: ‘From Steam To Green’ Songwriting Brief is a joint project between Glasgow City of Science and University of the West of Scotland MA: Songwriting & Performance that asks songwriters to interpret and develop historical materials around the legacy of James Watt in the context of new energies, new cultures, new perspectives on science.
The challenge: To challenge young musicians around what might be considered an appropriate thematic area for contemporary songwriting and to ask how their work might look at the subject in a fresh and interesting way.
The purpose: To produce new songs and performances based on historical narratives and the work of Glasgow City of Science, and to further explore the possibilities of creative practice as research.
The people and partners: University of the West of Scotland MA: Songwriting & Performance is Scotland’s only postgraduate course in the field. As well as providing an opportunity for musicians to practice and study at MA level the course is developing approaches to practice-as-research while engaging with communities and external stakeholders. In recent years the course has developed creative briefs in partnership with a range of funded participatory arts and social enterprise projects. By engaging in this way students have the opportunity to expand and develop new reference points for their practice while lending a distinct and often unexpected voice to disparate and varied fields.
The outcomes: Students developed and recorded four new song pieces and published them on their blog pages. The pieces evidenced a range of approaches, from direct historical narratives (Holly Johnston’s rumination on the Frame Breaker’s Act), reflections on the circular nature of invention and reinvention (‘Come Back Around’) from James Morgan, a beautiful personification of nature in Arran Kerr’s ‘The Mountain’ and Liam Allison’s ‘Mother Mary’, which imagines the nurturing power of Glasgow on its innovative sons and daughters.
- Read about the process of developing and listen to Holly Johnstone's 'James Watt 1812'
- Read about the process of developing and listen to James Morgan's 'Come Back Around'
- Read about the process of developing and listen to Arran Kerr's 'The Mountain'
- Listen to Liam Allison's 'Mother Mary'
It is proposed that the songs will be further developed in the recording studio and that they may form the basis of a future performance bringing together this brief with other work from the programme.
The impact: The project had a very clear impact in terms of academic and creative experience. It demonstrated again that rich and challenging stimulus material is important in developing new creative works with cultural and potential economic value.
This case study was published in February 2015.