Tuesday 1 November 2011

New metaphors for sustainability: song

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,
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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