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Archive for May, 2008

The Dutch have gone crazy…. erm Swedish I mean

As I was talking earlier today with another fellow journalist in Holland, we got sidetracked in our conversation. After having discussed work, courses for improving our work and general how do you do phrases it was time to turn to food and a marketing ploy used to sell Swedish food…

Ikea sells them, we’re told all the Swedes eat them all the time, breakfast, lunch, dinner. Now the Dutch, trying to be inventive, have started spelling the meatballs with the Swedish letter å. The word as seen in the picture doesn’t exist as a word in either the Swedish or the Dutch language, but the Dutch decided to give their word for meatballs a Swedish look. 

Köttbullar is the Swedish word for meatballs, regardless of the words on the box, this is a big seller in Holland too now!

Thank you Franka for this Swedish related story from your part of the world.

Elisavet

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Weddings, double decker buses and diversions in London

Last week had a lot of concerts and work relating to music features and writings. But as I’m out and about I sometimes get to see the most funny, unexpected things around town. 

As I don’t walk around with a camera, only a mobile phone with a simple camera I get to take some photos to remind me of what I’ve seen. bus to Cairo straight from London city

So I wanted to post a couple of last weeks findings, a hop-on-hop-of bus to Cairo…. and a traffic diversion leading into another wedding bus…traffic diverted into wedding bus

 

© Copyright Elisavet Sotiriadou, May 2008

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

There have been more concerts lately and you can read my musical experiences and reviews in a couple of places. Here follows a list: 

Tobias Fröberg and Ane Brun and Lisa Ekdahl’s concert at the Bush Hall is found on: www.myspace.com/elisavet_radio

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand concert at the Wembley Arena on: http://froots.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3552

Enjoy the read

Elisavet

Swedish Outsiders – How do you listen to music?

Last weekend, the ICA had a very narrow Swedish music festival featuring some unknown music to me, but the fans were present, and the event called Swedish Outsiders was sold out. I’d personally call it art rather than music, which in my definition has to provide me with some rhythm or melody, something I can hang on to for a little while, memorize and sing or hum back to myself. Swedish Outsiders made me think a lot about how we listen to music, and since I have had a love for radio and sound since a kid, it reminded me of the pleasure you can get by listening to sounds, especially the ones that you don’t notice and yet they contribute to that wholeness of the piece of melody you end up liking.

At the same time I started thinking of what people put themselves through in the name of art, both creators and the listeners or viewers. This was a very experimental festival where you got to experience sounds and films during the course of two days. I was amazed to see there is an audience which craves these uninhibited noise compositions, which could have been made by just anyone. Obviously, you need to be very talented to play the drums like Roger Turner and the saxophone like Mats Gustafsson. It looks as if sounds just happen, but without talent and knowledge you can’t make the saxophone moan and sound like anything but the saxophone. Was it an elephant, honking horns, traffic, screams, stress, pain and all other abstract things you can possibly think of. 

Even though a few people did walk out half way through some of the sound displays, it was not as bad as that time I saw Greek clarinet player Vassilis Saleas at the Barbican when most of the people walked out, as they had expected traditional clarinet music from Greece and not a keyboard loaded set creating space noises behind the clarinet.

The Swedish Outsiders was different, this is why I call it art and not so much music, even though there was one band which performed the more conventional type of music, the trio Tape. The people next to me referred to them as boring, but I found their music quite soothing and relaxing and I could just hear how the people surrounding me where exhaling as if they were in a yoga or pilates class. Tape made us exhale, breathe and rest our minds with their subtle careful compositions. Maybe this is boring, as we expect action and happenings all the time.

A few of the other musical and sound creators were Folke Rabe. His three pieces were different, one he called a remix where he mixed sounds from a commercial radio show in New York from the 60s, where you can hear the presenter’s voice, news and weather forecasts, snippets of the song Ferry Cross the Mercy and Petula Clark’s Down Town! To hear this in darkness and stillness, is like listening to the radio in the dark, on your own, when no one else is around and all you do is close your eyes and listen. Have you ever done that?

Listen and what do you hear? Everything, how the dial moves between the channels and how it surfs through the radiowaves. Rabe’s second piece was more disturbing, as it depicted how disasters creep up on us. Sometimes we don’t see them coming and this he illustrated by letting the audience sit in darkness and listen to sounds that sometimes were resembling those of a war plane from WW2, or a sinking boat, a rainstorm, a truck driving past or the crackling sound of wood making you think that the buidling you’re in will fall upon you and bury you underneath.

So far all good, the disasters were creations of our imaginations, but the most painful bit was to listen to 25 minutes of 6 notes only being played in such a manner that you didn’t notice they were changing. To me that was hard, 25 minutes was way too long. I think people applauded themselves for having survived the ordeal, or just applauding because it was finally over, and finally over because to listen to this monotonous sound is not something we are used to, it makes us feel discomfort, especially when the sound is there to make you worried or scared like a Hitchcock movie.

Ok I am exaggerating a little bit. Trying to distinguish sounds from one another is like trying to distinguish which organs are being used for a song we like to listen to. In the end it is sounds, and when focussed and listened to in darkness, your imagination gets very creative. Especially so if there are to abstract sounds and you cannot associate them with natural rhythms that you’re already used to.

Thank you Swedish Embassy in London and no.signal for organising this sound and cultural experience.

© Copyright Elisavet Sotiriadou, May 2008

Efficent at work or not..


Sokratis Malamas, photo Giorgos Vitsaropoulos
It took me a whole day to find a CD. I looked all over and could not find it. Found all the other things I wasn’t looking for but the one CD I needed for my radio feature was nowhere. I knew it was in here somewhere, so I wasted a whole day searching until i found it under a cardigan. I think it took something like 20 hours… with breaks of course.

In the meantime I was stressing like crazy thinking that I should be editing and editing and writing my script instead, but oh no, I had to look for the CD and during all this stress I came up with ten ideas for writing blogs and another ten for poems. So I gave in in the end and sat down and scribbled down some poems, they are also somewhere around here now, on pieces of paper, behind receipts, on napkins all being used as book marks. I bet when the time has come to look for these poems, I won’t be able to find them either unless I listen to that CD and write a few more poems…

In the end the album Dromoi, by Sokratis Malamas was in my hands. I have listened to it before, but now I needed to focus on the listening and figure out which songs I should use to illustrate the feature with and this music feature I was working on about him. Sometimes you have this favourite song, but for some reason it won’t fit in with the purpose of the show, or with the feature or there is some other production/editing reason that makes you leave out a song in favour of another.

This time I think I just decided that as it is a Greek singer to be featured on a radio station in a non-Greek speaking country, the most important thing is the melody and harmonies not the lyrics, as so few people will understand the lyrics. I also got help in getting a selection of his older songs from one of his record label representatives. 

I remember one of the first things Sokratis Malamas asked me was who was going to listen to this interview I was about to do? Was it going to be for Greeks in Sweden, or not? I said the show is not a language programme for minorities or immigrants, it is purely a music programme featuring music from all kinds of places in the world, so it is not exclusively a Greek audience, but a Swedish one. 

And then he asked me, but how will my music and my lyrics reach these people, if they don’t understand the language I’m singing in and I don’t understand theirs?

Well, he might have a point. If you do get to listen, you’ll find out if his music will reach you. I believe that music is universal and of course you get a better experience when understanding the language a song is sung in, but I have personally listened to many songs in foreign languages and love them, not because I understand the meaning of any of the words, but because I like the sound and the feeling a song sends out. If you would like to listen to the feature it runs on Swedish Radio and here is the link: 

http://www.sr.se/cgi-bin/p2/program/arkiv.asp?ProgramID=2486&formatID=116&Max=2008-06-08&Min=2006-01-22&PeriodStart=2008-05-01&Period=3&Artikel=2071143

It’s available for up to a month after the show airs tomorrow Sunday 18th May 2008. You can access it via the link above. I hope you will enjoy listening to it and that it will introduce you to some new music.

Sokratis Malamas, photo Giorgos Vitsaropoulos 

Elisavet

Garage Band

I know I said I love music but don’t worry I have not started a band, at least not yet, am only referring to the audio editing programme on Mac computers called Garage Band, which I think can turn any garbage to music. I recently went to one of their workshops in hope of finding out how you use this software to edit sound on, but was amazed to see how easy it is to make up music…. Makes me wonder which of the musicians and artists out there uses this and if they are able to play any music at all on proper instruments?

Before anyone starts throwing rotten tomatoes at me or any other biodegradable food, yes of course there are musicians out there who can play, but the computers make it soooooo much easier, that even I, who cannot sing or play much anymore, have the ability and possibility to make music!

Another thing I heard from a musician and producer recently, was that some bands actually hire “proper” musicians to play when they record their albums, because the actual band members are not good enough musicians. They can get away with their playing on their live performances, but apparently on the album it has to be tight and perfect musically. So the image is more important than actually being able to play the guitar well or sing well. 

Hmm, again can’t help but wonder: who is behind the music? A person or a computer, or a person behind the computer in charge of the computer? I’m sure a lot of people go to concerts and see the computers and laptops as an integrated part of the band, they provide loops and some of the arrangements and maybe some of the instruments that cannot be played for practical reasons, not enough band members or not enough money to pay for more band members. In effect, these computers contribute to the full sound that reaches our ears!

Again makes it possible for people with not so much money to make music. But what about the ones who have the money and can afford to hire in all the musicians and still they use the computers?

And what about Milli Vanilli and Boney M, would they had made it big had we known from start they were selling an image and music, but not actually singing themselves?

Ok I better go back to what I should be doing, which is editing, but before I get there I should start with the transcpription of my one hour long conversation interview with one of the Greek modern philosphers around Sokratis..

Music

Since I love music and I go to a fair amount of concerts, I recently made myself a promise to keep an informal record and review what I see on my other site at: http://www.myspace.com/elisavet_radio

If you go there you’ll find more blog material, mostly music related but other stories tend to make an appearance as well.

Most recent are reviews on

Toumani Diabaté in London

Errol Linton in London

DeVotchka

The Great Indoors with Nathalie Nahai, Charlene Soraia and Mayfly Trio

 

Elisavet Sotiriadou