Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Singing the fishing

As the project Parallel Lives with Arts Development in Aberdeen is gathering pace I thought I’d give a brief update. Our taster session with Torry Arts Forum last June helped us to set up the song-writing sessions for Torry residents in September. Our current focus therefore is on engaging people from Central and Eastern Europe living in Torry. Fortunately, we’ve been given a few leads so we hope to get in contact with them over the next week or two. We hope to be able to set up a number of meetings to talk about the project and share experiences about moving to Scotland to work. The song lyrics for the song about migrant workers’ experiences will be based on those conversations. Over the next few weeks I also hope to find some violin, viola and cello players who can accompany the singers during the final event. It will be great to arrange an accompaniment for strings. At the moment, our attention is, however, focused on our preparations for Torry Gala where we hope to promote the project by making herring mobiles together.

Talking to people about the project often helps to shed new light on elements of it. A few weeks ago  Aberdeenshire youth music coordinator Lorna McLaren told me about the background of The Song Of The Fish Gutters. The song was written in 1966 by Ewan MacColl as part of a radio ballad about Britain’s fishing communities called Singing The Fishing. Together with Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl visited Great Yarmouth and Gardenstown (Gamrie) along the Moray coast to record traditional songs and speak to people who used work in the fast declining herring industry. In this light, it is interesting that The Song of the Fish Gutters is about young women from Northeast Scotland who travel to Yarmouth to work in the herring industry, connecting the two areas the radio ballad focused on. 
In the video below I’ve added the lyrics to the music, so you can sing along with The Song of the Fish Gutters.

If you live in Torry and want to be involved in the project, please register your interest with Mandy Clarke, community arts officer with Arts Development, at 01224 814738 or mclarke@aberdeen.gov.uk.

Torry Gala will take place on Saturday 27 October and the project will be promoted between 12 and 2 pm. The song-writing workshops will take place on Friday 16 and 23 September from 9.30 to 11.30 am. The final event, in which we’ll sing the three songs with all those who have been involved with the project, will take place on Saturday 29 October from 11 am to 1 pm.

Copyright text, images and video Petra Vergunst

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