So, Anya Mackerick is my singer song writer alter ego.
I found her on residency in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland. The residency was called MAKE and is organised by Theatre Forum, Tiger Dublin Fringe, Project Arts Centre and The Cork Midsummer Festival and is held at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.
I spent 10 days living with 14 other musicians, composers, directors, choreographers, artists and 3 international mentors (Brett Bailey ‘Artists are in a position of power, what do you do with that power?’, Justin Vivian Bond ‘You just have to have conviction and you can do anything’ and Ragnheiour Skuladottir ‘it is what is left unsaid’) in a grand manor house by a big beautiful lake.
I went their to recover, sing and think.
I proposed a project about how we process sorrow through song.
The house was full of music and grief.
There is a lot to say about the intensity of this residency that a blog cannot contain. So here is something I wrote at the end of the week…
I have been thinking about song and sorrow, separately and together.
I have been thinking about the voice as the immaterial part of us, but the part that reaches beyond and out to others, the part that says something of the soul – that other immaterial part, supposedly.
I have been thinking about songs that carry memory of place and people.
I have been thinking about the solo singer, the contributor to the room, the channel, the person that is channeling, tuning, holding something.
I have been thinking about sound, melody, words, fragmented or long breaths, long lulling sounds that are sentences.
I have been listening to folk, blues, traditional sean nos, soul, the lacrimosa and recordings of laments from 1903 on the british library website.
I have been thinking about song that changes time and space, that warps the room, that brings in ghosts.
I have been thinking about song as a process of becoming, as transformative of both the singing and not singing.
I have been thinking about the simplicity of our rhythm and how this is manipulated by song.
I have been thinking about the erosion of singing and even vocalising.
I have been thinking about an Island that is urbanised, cultivated, harvested, sliced and controlled. A nation obsessed with control.
I have been thinking about what we have lost.
I have been thinking about the wood and the wild, what did we loose when we lost the wood?
I have been thinking about how the corners of our mouths buckle and fold, and how the chests feels hollow and full at the same time.
I have been thinking about the word sorrow and how it fell out of use and how Keening (Irish tradition of women wailing with grief at the graveside) has become extinct, or is considered to be. When did the wailing stop?
I have been thinking about singing things into existence.
I have been thinking about low spirits. about spirits. I have been in low spirits.
I have been thinking about the dying fall.
I have been thinking about connectivity to the present and to the past.
I have been thinking about my great nanny hannah and my granddad jim. I have been thinking about their journeys and have done this by writing them both a song.
I have been writing songs.
I have been thinking about song collectors, I have made a small collection.
I have been thinking about notation, the shape of sound, I have been drawing sound, it has shape.
I have been thinking about the obligatory song, standing on the circular rug and recounting the variety show mix up of the time.
I have sung to a tree.
I have sung to a dog.
I have sung at some people in a pub.
I have been thinking about how we sung before we spoke.
I have been thinking about the coffin for education that was carried through the streets. What has been put in a coffin and what has been left to rot.
I have been thinking that song brings us into being.
At the end of my sharing during the residency, where I read this list and some writing and sang some songs (mine and other peoples), someone asked me ‘Do you feel differently about song now?’ and I answered ‘No, I don’t feel differently, I came here because I felt something about song, and now I understand why…a little more.’
There are some events I would like to make happen as a consequence of this residency, so just watch this space.
Anya Mackerick/Hannah Sullivan