May 26, 2009

Charles Spearin//Anna

Hey guys! How was your looooong weekend? Mine was AWESOME! I saw tons of friends and family, went to many bbqs and played lots of music. I hope everyone had a great trio of days.

On to business: Canadian musician Charles Spearin, of Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think, made what really amounts to a quite remarkable collection of music. Inspired by Buddhism and his own blind father, he became interested in how normal speech carries musical qualities (am I the only one who thought of this Radio Lab?). The resulting album is comprised of interviews Spearin conducted with his neighbors about happiness set to composed music…And it’s actually really, really cool. In addition to just being a very engaging and highly varied arrangement, it’s been getting stuck in my head like a champ, in a good way.

Spearin’s explanation of the concept:

A year or so ago, I began inviting some of them over to the house for a casual interview vaguely centered around the subject of happiness. In some cases we never broached the subject directly but nonetheless my friends began to call it my 'Happiness Project.' After each interview I would listen back to the recording for moments that were interesting in both meaning and melody. By meaning I mean the thoughts expressed, by melody I mean the cadence and inflection that give the voice a singsong quality. It has always been interesting to me how we use sounds to convey concepts. Normally, we don’t pay any attention to the movement of our lips and tongue, and the rising and falling of our voices as we toss our thoughts back and forth, just as we don’t pay attention to the curl and swing of the letters as we read. I wanted to see if I could blur the line between speaking and singing and write music based on these accidental melodies. So, I had some musician friends play these neighborhood melodies as close as they could on different instruments (the tenor saxophone as Mrs. Morris, the harp as Marisa, etc.) and then I arranged them as though they were songs. The result is a beautiful and unique collection of songs, blissfully blurring the lines between jazz, folk, indie rock, and inspirational improvisation.


You can hear more happiness project here and learn more here.

It’s like they don’t ask beyond of what’s present.

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