It’s all very electronic round here at the moment. Synths and beats. Not many guitars.
Rewind to early 2013. I’ve talked about this on my blog before, but here’s a recap.
I’ve been on the radar at Drake Music for a couple of years now. I first appeared on the map when I put a shoutout on twitter to meet other musicians with disabilities. This was at a time when I was yet to even hear of another musician with a disability
What affected me most was the way technology was now enabling musicianship in a way that I’d never witnessed before. Most of all, it got me thinking about the narrow gap I’m in; able to play traditional instruments to a reasonable extent (for now), despite my condition. Seeing other musicians who were using apps and iPads and things, who could not play a traditional instrument had a big effect on me emotionally.
One of the issues I’m tackling is the fact that access and ability are transient. My hand motor functions are deteriorating. I have a fantastic physio team around me, but the future is uncertain. In the land of Winter Of ’82 I want to get my guitar and piano playing on tape while I still can. Here, I’m exploring the future. What will my relationship with music be like, if real instruments are no longer playable?
So what defines this project? How do I decide what’s in and out. Whilst opinions on what constitutes accessible technology vary, there are a few sensible constants. Pianos and guitars are out of course, that’s a given. This is about exploring accessible music beyond ‘real’ instruments, not about clinging on to what I’ve got. From what I’ve learned through Drake Music, there is one obvious constant; the iPad. Musicians being able to jam without being able to play an instrument was unthinkable a few years ago.
The lab really got me thinking a lot about accessible music technology. Most of all, it got me thinking about the narrow gap I’m in; able to play traditional instruments to a reasonable extent (for now), despite my condition. Seeing other musicians who were using apps and iPads and things, who could not play a traditional instrument had a big effect on me emotionally.
I started to wonder how I would react to that sort of technology. I know disability; I’m restricted in so many ways, but I happen to have found ways to use traditional instruments so far. What if I couldn’t play the instruments I know? What would that mean to me as a songwriter? How good am I, when those things I’m used to are taken away? Enabling technology creates an even playing field; one I want to explore and play in. This is partly me exploring my deteriorating physical abilities; what if I lose the ability to play guitar/piano? Can technology continue to enable me as a singer-songwriter? All those kinds of questions, basically…
Inspired by the lab, I have decided to make a record using only technology which is truly accessible. That means, of course, changing my process completely. It’s a personal challenge as a writer and a producer, as well as a way to truly learn and understand accessible technology. I *hope* it will make me a better musician. It would also be a great opportunity to collaborate with others with physical disabilities.
The end result is to have an LP length product that not only demonstrates what can be achieved with technology, but lyrical hits the conversation of disability head on. Hopefully, the very nature of the product will be part of the conversation, and highlight the conversation we’re having about music and access.
I should point out that I’m yet to start work on this, but it’s been buzzing around my head for a while. As I explained to Pete; I process everything through music; this project is a reaction to me being given a chance by DM to meet other musicians, and explore just how transient access can be. DM20 seemed like a good excuse to think about getting started on it.
So, anyway; my question is: could this record tie in with #DM20? It’s a project that DM directly inspired, at the very least it seemed worth sharing with you.
Anyway, just kicking around an idea ATM – if you have any thoughts, do let me know!