The world is changing. I know that can feel like a bad thing a lot of the time these days, but some of these changes are good. We are finding new ways to connect and create even while apart – and these new ways won’t disappear when the virus does. Here are a few good things about new ways – from new ways to share folk music to new ways to make music at a distance and an old way to bring about change.
Thing To Listen To: Folk Unlocked
This week I find myself attending my first Folk Alliance conference. Sort of.
Like everything else this year, Folk Alliance International has had to ‘pivot’ and head online this year. The upside is that I can afford the time and money to attend this way (admission is as cheap as free this year for those with low funds). I’m not alone – their attendance has set records this year.
One plus of taking in this conference is disocovery. I’m getting to hear music showcases from Australia, Ireland, across Alberta – and that’s just what I’ve taken in so far.
I HIGHLY recommend you sign up as a fan and take in as many showcases as you can squeeze in this week. They are being archived for the week on the Folk Unlocked website so you can catch the ones you’ve missed – or rewatch showcases. You’ll find plenty of new artists to search on Spotify, follow and connect with. I sure am.
Here are just a few of the artists I’ve been taken by already.
Monique Clare – a string player from Australia, her arrangements are innovative and fresh, combining a beautiful voice with deep cello, harp and and other sounds. Get started with It Works – such a cool chorus to this song!
Zani – speaking of fresh soundscapes, Xani’s live performance was incredible – solo with a fiddle on looping pedal and who-knows-what-else, but sounded huge. Lion is a fun song to start with.
Oscar Blue – as I listened to this great folksinger I was drawn into the lyrics. There’s a dance with religious belief that I can relate to. Then there’s that charming brogue. A Dance at the Crossroads is sure to get a mood going.
“This little thing called love … doing it half-heartedly just ain’t enough”. Amen Oscar.
You’ll discover a LOT of great folk music in the official conference playlist – Folk Unlocked 2021.
On on and discover your new favourite artists. Maybe I’ll see you in a showcase later this week?
Thing to See: North Wind and the Sun
If you are of a certain vintage, you’ll vividly remember National Film Board shorts like “The North Wind and the Sun: A Fable by Aesop”. Or maybe if you were also like me in that you didn’t have cable but got your channels through “rabbit ears”.
I remember this short film every time I wear the wrong clothes for the weather. Every time the seasons change. Every time I think about effective ways to bring about change.
Watching it now, I can’t help thinking the narrator sounds like a caricature of Olivia Coleman.
Thing to Try: Singing Together While Far Apart
Regardless of your internet speed, sound travels faster.
If you’ve never tried making music with people over the internet, you’d assume it’s as easy as the video chats that have become so ubiquitous. But you’d be wrong. Because … physics.
You know those videos of bands playing together over a distance. Most, if not all, are fake. People have played separately and then been edited together.
I know, it’s like finding out about Santa Claus. I’m so sorry.
The issue is latency. Sound takes a while to travel from me to you and back to me. By the time it makes the trip it is near impossible to play in time with each other. Just ask my friend Tania who spent an afternoon chasing my guitar around the beat a few months back in a fail attempt at jamming.
Turns out, this problem is being fixed, or has been fixed, by an app called Sonobus.
There will never be NO latency. Because … physics. But it turns out if you can get the latency down to 30 milliseconds or less, the latency ceases to be a problem. At that speed, you can still play together with other musicians in real time.
If you are a musician, you need to give this a try. I don’t know about you but I haven’t played music with another person live in nearly a YEAR.
If you’re not a musician, you still might find plenty of uses for this. You can remotely record interviews for a writing project or podcast, for instance.