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Day 8 Meeting the Carnival kids, Freddie the Frog and the snow gang!

This week, in advance of the sessions, Eszther Nemethi (in Hospital E) and I had been in correspondence about a theme. Eszther had a gorgeous idea to do a Carnival theme with clowns and an amusement park set. For a few seconds, I thought she meant Rio-style with processions of costumes (ahem!) and lots of feathers, which of course would have been fun tooJ Anyway, with the carnival in mind, I set about slightly modifying my puppets and researching some amusement park/carnival sounds and music. Last weeks soundscape consisted of a lot of ambient sounds so I assumed this approach would work again. However it would seem that last weeks piece, intended to suggest a particular location i.e. Africa, was easier to do. However, this mornings initial research lead me on an interesting journey and some decisions that I hadnt expected.

There is quite a bit of audio available, on the Internet and other sources, as sound effects but my experience over the last few weeks, creating sound design pieces for this project, has been that it is better to stick to more literal and obvious sounds. These sounds tend to suggest visual ideas more readily, which is more useful for the age group that we are working with. This morning I set about locating interesting recordings of ambient sound from amusement parks people screaming on a rollercoaster ride, laughter, some interesting music that would go along with the carnival rides but all the time listening and judging whether or not it would be immediately obvious to a child. As I said, the scenarios that I and the other artists are working in seem to demand more immediate and provocative cues. However, I feel that the sounds I was sourcing initally this morning would have required a longer listening session, which would take time, and needless to say, concentration. This approach doesnt seem quite appropriate in these situations, neither for the puppet-making sessions or the link-up performance/collaboration sessions. Anyway, the research certainly gave me some interesting new ideas for future works in this context. Always learning! So, after exploring that route for a short amount of time, I went back to the more immediate and evocative sounds associated with a funfair. I created a short piece of music, that could be looped later in video, using a circus organ sample. Short and sweet.

When it came to the link-up with Hospital E, I was met with a number of beautiful puppets (and their owners!) situated in a colourful carnival set. I was very impressed and at times a little distracted by their work! Eszther had some musicians in working with her today so there seems to have been some musical rehearsal done in advance of the link-up. I was able to watch and listen while the children performed and sang along with the musicians. I think they enjoyed showing off to me! I was honest about being situated in Dublin (last week I was in Africa!) and the falling snow outside became a good topic of conversation. I told the children that I wanted to get away from the cold snow and visit their carnival but because I was in Dublin, I wasnt going to make it to their carnival. However (hee hee), I had prepared a piece of carnival music and we could all have a dance to it. Last week I mentioned that I was finding it challenging to keep my keyboard-playing hands hidden underneath puppet costumes, stay in character and interact with the children. The pre-recorded music saved me this week as there was an organ sound in the music! I kept my keyboard switched off but my puppets danced around it, making it look like they were playing the organ! Cunning trick but certainly something a might employ in the future!

In the afternoon, Sally Maidment, Niamh Lawlor and I did a short link-up in a mult-screen room. Sallys group had been making frogs very impressive! I met Freddie the Frog from Thailand who was red. Thinking back, I have a feeling his name was Reddy and I just couldnt hear him clearly. Niamh seemed to have a number of children with her and a really nice set. I had a quick chat with Niamhs group as they were hell-bent on showing me the snow from their hospital window. Doing the group link-up is quite challenging as its hard to hear what is being said when everyone is trying to talk/perform. I suggested the old favourite Twinkle Twinkle and everyone joined in. So, the music seems to work well to create unity for the link-ups.

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