New metaphors for sustainability: song

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Sue Palmer, an artist making live and digital work with people and place, and author of inquiline, a blog on botany and art, suggests song as a metaphor for sustainability.

the extraordinary song:often straightforward, yet infinitely complex

the diversity (how many millions have been created)

the particularity (each one individual)

a structure enabling brilliant inventiveness

often a voice and an instrument

two kinds of sounds, working

my musician friend John talks about chords as metaphors

about how two ‘discordant’ tones are shifted

through the addition of a third note, bringing resolve

songs are free, and they can make someone a living

they help people make it through the day, and night

songs have changed peoples’ minds

a song can contain a lot of information, honed,

ideas packed in language,

rhythm, rhyme

there’s craft in it, and anyone can do it

there’s multiple ways to begin, and a sense when it’s complete

 

verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle eight, chorus,

bridge

and key change, ‘ad lib to fade’

the pleasure of the repetition, letting the song free up, go

When I think of sustainability, I usually think of losing things, resources, capacity, and I find my materially-centred thought frustrating.

‘If anything, I wanted to understand things and then be free of them. I needed to learn how to telescope things, ideas. Things were too big to see all at once, like all the books in the library – everything laying around on all the tables. You might be able to put it all into one paragraph or into one verse of a song if you could get it right’, Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Volume One, 2004.

photo: by Orelie Grimaldi of John Cartwright playing C#m7

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ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

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