In this episode, Ciyadh talks about the intersections of art and sustainability and her project, Trash Music.
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Carry Me Home by Ariel Posen
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Cogitating about Trash and Music
[00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to this episode of Musically Cogitating, a podcast about the relevance and importance of living and contemporary music of all kinds and about how that music impacts our everyday lives. I am your host Ciyadh Wells. Thank you so much for joining me here today. If you are enjoying the show, please subscribe on your podcast player of choice, and also share this with a friend as always any important and relevant links that are mentioned during the show will be linked in the show notes on your podcast player, and [00:01:00] also on the Musically Cogitating website.
[00:01:04] In today's episode of the, uh, Musically Cogitating podcast, we are going to cogitate about trash and music. That's right. You heard me say it? We're going to talk about trash and music. I am very passionate about each of those things about trash. Yes. Uh, I'm very passionate about things outside of music and as we all are, and one of those things that I'm really interested in and passionate about is sustainability.
[00:01:36] So I wanted to spend a few minutes with you today just a talking about what sustainability is for me, why I'm interested in it, why I think it's important and a project that I worked on called Trash Music where I answered the question or I basically made music from trash.
[00:01:58] So [00:02:00] my general thoughts on sustainability are that it's more important than it ever has been. And I don't know if you are aware. Of the climate clock, but it's this clock that somewhere kind of outside of times square. And there were these two, or there are these two artists who primarily came up with the idea and the clock displays two numbers, and it's a countdown basically counting down what will happen or how much time we have left here on earth. More or less , how long it is for us to be safe here. If we don't make some sort of changes. In terms of, uh, environmentalism and sustainability. And we hear all the time that our forests are shrinking and that climate refugees are already being displaced all over the world. But often issues like that can [00:03:00] really seemed far from removed from our day-to-day lives. And I don't think that that's really an accident. I think it's by design that people don't really want us to be thinking about these issues and how they affect us in our everyday lives. But we need to be thinking about it.
[00:03:21] It does matter for all of us in some way. And there's a lot of talk about. If issues of sustainability and environmental ism should even be left up to individuals, you and me, the everyday common people, because supply and demand is real and big influences of corporations, uh, are a thing and they have a really great influence on our society and on the way that things work.
[00:03:55] But ultimately I do think that it is up to corporations to be [00:04:00] doing the majority of the work. And I also think that we as consumers, do you have the ability to make some influence and to make some changes. And it won't be big sweeping changes. You know, we talk a lot about the turtles and the straws and the styrofoam and the plastic.
[00:04:17] And I think that, yes, those are things that we can be working again, to kind of get rid of, or to minimize or to be just more mindful. Ultimately I, and anything that I'm passionate about or anything that I talk about, I just want people to be more mindful of how these things are relevant to them in their everyday lives.
[00:04:39] So you might still use a plastic straw and I, people do. There are people who need those, those types of resources. And so it was like, yes. Okay, please, please use those. Please do whatever you need to do to make your life comfortable. And also for those of us who may not need a particular thing, we can be a little bit more mindful about our use of [00:05:00] these things.
[00:05:01] And we don't lead single issue lives. And so I think that we, as a society, as people have the capacity to focus on multiple issues at one time, there are intersections at which sustainability. Environmentalism, social justice, all of those things intersect and connect and artists, creative people. We have to be more engaged in our local communities.
[00:05:31] And that means caring about the environment that means caring about sustainability. That means understanding our roles and contributions to these things that are larger than us. These larger social movements, our art can impact and can make an influence. And we, as people have that ability as well. So, like I said, I've always been interested in how music, art, commerce, all of that really intersects with social [00:06:00] movements.
[00:06:00] And so how does art has music impact the fight for social justice? How does it impact sustainability? How does it impact environmentalism, uh, just generally I've always. Always had those types of questions, which is part of the show, right. Me coming in here and talking about the relevance of art and particularly music on our everyday lives, but also understanding the various intersections.
[00:06:27] And so, as I've said, I've always had this general interest in sustainability, I think for me and a lot of people, it starts with food because food. Yeah. Um, is such a big part of that farmed animals and, and all of that. And I have talked at length about those things in other places on the internet, and will be in the future so I won't bore you or, uh, make you listen to that. But, uh, food is a place where it all starts in there. There are documentaries, there are podcasts, there are books, [00:07:00] and there's so much to consume on YouTube, as well, about our food and standability. And so I just always had that interest in, I remember being a young kid and really like finding out about recycling and what it meant, but back then, and even still now we recycling is difficult. When I was young, we would, we would have a recycling, but it was kind of difficult because we would have to always take it somewhere. And that meant, you know, as a nine or ten year old kid who was excited about sustainability, you know, that means having to have someone take you to go recycle with things.
[00:07:38] And that can be a 20 or 30 minute trip across town. And that's just not really reasonable. So it was an accessible and it still is largely, and again, recycling, isn't the only thing that we can be doing or that we should be addressing. But that's just kind of where I feel like this interest really began [00:08:00] and really peaked.
[00:08:01] And so I am in a place in my life where I want to hopefully begin spending more time outside and doing more outdoor activities. Once it is safe to be in large groups again. Uh, but I want the environment to be healthy and a place where we can all go and be safe. And so I just think that we should care and I care about how my everyday input, my everyday actions impacts the lives of all of those around us.
[00:08:36] So I wanted to now talk to you about a project that I did called trash music, which I mentioned at the top of the show and trash music was kind of my way of figuring out, you know, what are the intersections of art and sustainability. So for me, it was, you know, it was music and trash. [00:09:00] And so this was a project I worked on during one of my years as a graduate assistant at the University of Georgia.
[00:09:07] And I worked in an interdisciplinary arts research lab called ICE or Ideas for Creative Exploration. And I had this really great advisor and great mentor and he would just always push us to be asking questions ,ask big questions, have interest, have broad interests, make friends have collaborations. And so, you know, I was reading one day an article from NPR and it talked about the, which I'll try to find in link below.
[00:09:40] Um, but yeah. It talked about certain tonewoods and how these woods, we would use them to make guitars and the wood was becoming more and more scarce. Again, we talked about how our forests are being deforested and how that [00:10:00] impacts, you know, the people who are living there, the animals, the plants, and all of that.
[00:10:04] So again, this was reading that article. It really, it really pushed ideas of environmentalism, of ecojustice, of sustainability, kind of into my consciousness again. And so it made me think of the impact that I, as a musician, as a guitar player, who has all of this equipment and all of these guitars and electronics, you know, as someone who spends money on these things, you know, what kind of impact am I having? And so almost instantaneously, I had the idea and a research question, which was ultimately, can I make music from trash? Thus trashed music was born and through the support of my assistantship and a grant from the Office of Sustainability at the University of Georgia and some other outside support, we were able to make trash music, which is a project that is near and dear to my heart.
[00:11:00] [00:10:59] And the way that the project kind of worked was that I kind of managed the project. So I collaborated with some students from the art and design school at UGA who used various recycled materials that I and other people had collected to create trash instruments. So these were literally instruments, things that made noise that were made out of trash.
[00:11:28] And then there was a group of competition students who wrote fully through-composed pieces of music for us to perform on those trash instruments. And so I'll see if I can share some of the videos. Links to videos. Um, but we were able to hold two performances and it was a really, really cool thing to see that idea of can we, can we really do something?
[00:11:54] And I don't mean, can we, can we just make shakers? And I think there's a place in this [00:12:00] space for that, obviously, but this was something that was, it was like, can we make, I don't want to say concert music or art music, but just music that people really enjoyed and took seriously as art. Um, and as something that was creative, could we make that kind of music with trash instruments?
[00:12:19] And it turns out that, you know, we were, we were able to do it and it's a project that I really love and I don't know what the future holds necessarily for, for that project. But I do know that it was really impactful for me to, to have an idea about you know, can I kind of research this? Can I, can I make this happen?
[00:12:43] And then to ultimately to be able to make it happen. So, you know, in the future, I would love to be able to do something like this again, on a much bigger scale, because I believe that it could be really impactful, not only because of, [00:13:00] you know, This beautiful art and music that can be made, but also because of the ability that it has to push people to think about, about music, about art and about sustainability and about how we as musicians, you know, we are not.
[00:13:20] Uh, innocent in anything that happens in the world, right? The things that we do just as people who are, you know, regular people, but also as people who are creative and people who are artists and musicians, it impacts our world. And we, we must think about it. So. again, my goal with the project was to research, can you make music from trash? And if you can, what is sound like and turns out it sounds like a real music. And can we begin to research alternative resources and solutions for our instruments? And I think that we can, I am not a research scientist, but I've heard of many [00:14:00] competitions and people who are looking for alternative resources to make instruments, I'm sure you've or you might've heard of like the carbon fiber guitar and all of these other things. So I think there are people out there thinking about it. I don't know that it's quote mainstream quite yet, but I do know that it's out there it's on the people's minds and it will become more and more relevant as we move on.
[00:14:29] I'm not sure again how big of an impact instrument makers have on sustainability broadly. And I'm sure there might be a research about that out there. If I find it I'll link it, of course. Um, but I'm certain that we do have an impact and there is something that we can do about it. So that was a little bit about, you know, my project that I worked on, trash music, um, kind of my general thoughts on sustainability and all that.
[00:14:58] Since this is a show [00:15:00] about music, I of course, wanted to recommend something for you to listen to a little ear bug, if you will. And this week's recommendation is Carry Me Home by Ariel Posen. And he is a guitarist that I discovered probably in the last year. No, I would say probably like two years. Um, and he's just an incredible singer songwriter guitarist, one of my favorites. So let me know what you think of his music. I would love to chat with you someday about it. Uh, and yeah, we can see what, what beauty comes to that.
[00:15:34] As always, don't forget to follow the podcast on social media and on the website. And we also have newsletter, which you can subscribe to you where you will receive some additional bonus. Content and updates about the show. And if you are listening to this podcast on Apple podcast, please give us a like, rating, and review as it helps us to make the show better and wherever you're listening, be sure to subscribe so that you [00:16:00] get the regular updates every other Wednesday. So there's all that I have for you today.
[00:16:05] Folks, I will be back in two weeks with the next episode of the Musically Cogitating podcast until then bye-bye.