Stories and music combine in live performance

Words and music will come together in a gig with a difference at Mareel tonight following a collaborative effort between folk musician Aidan O’ Rourke and Scottish author James Robertson.

Project 365: Stories and Music follows a year-long endeavour by Robertson, author behind The Testament of Gideon Mack, to write a short story every day of exactly 365 words.

The collection of fairy tales, memories and provocations was published by Penguin as 365: Stories in 2014.

Lau fiddler O’Rourke was given the book that Christmas, and – following a chance meeting with Robertson at Celtic Connections – later set about putting music to each of the tales told within the book.

“Each story has a succinct message which I found really enticing and inspiring,” he said.

“For a year these tunes became the punctuation and grammar of my every day.”

O’Rourke later teamed up with harmonium player and pianist Kit Downes to record the music.

Now, recordings of tunes and words have been combined in an installation ensconced in Mareel until 14th November.

Listeners eager to get some time-out from their busy schedules can throw on the headphones and twiddle the dials to choose whether to listen to stories, music, or both combined.

The music tracks have been laid down in two volumes, a selection of which are being performed by O’Rourke and Downes as part of their live tour.

Robertson said: “I love the way the 365 project has built new layers of creativity and performance on my original collection of stories.

“It’s been a total joy and privilege to work with these talented musicians, and I am still astonished that my words have provoked such a rich range of responses in Aidan’s compositions.”


Add Your Comment
  • David Spence

    • November 1st, 2019 20:41

    There is no doubt music plays a very important part of the Shetland way of life, and the bringing together of people to enjoy the beautiful sounds and feelings music invokes. It also, I feel, gives a reflection of history and a way of life many do not know about.

    Learning about a tune or song can be just as important in terms of its history, but moreover, why it was composed in the first place and the impact it had on the composer or people playing the tune on their fiddle, guitar or any other instrument long afterwards.

    There is no doubt music has one of the most powerful influences either to the individual or as a group or more due to the harmony of sound to this of what feelings it stirs up within you.

    Music, the sound psychology of emotion and feeling…….what can be stronger?

    • Jerry Falwell

      • November 3rd, 2019 12:05

      Bobis Johnson is music to the country’s ears.

  • Haydn Gear

    • November 2nd, 2019 18:10

    David, you are absolutely correct. To take your comment a little further, I would say that the Arts are capable of contributing much more to human life and activity than has ever been so in the past. We are rapidly becoming slaves to science as well as being beneficiaries of its wonderful contributions to life in its widest sense. The attempts that we see to put one on a higher plane than the other are futile. Every facet of human endeavour should be in the mix with the aim of forming rounded rather than fragmented people.

    • Peter Hamilton

      • November 3rd, 2019 14:26

      Very well put Haydn! The Arts also let people see their individual and collective issues, wants and needs from different perspectives, so also assist democracy. Expressing our creativity is also a FUNdamental part of being human, and happily there are good dancers, singers and storytellers everywhere.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 3rd, 2019 9:06

    In the relatively wealthy and affluent society of the Western World, we have the privilege of enjoying the Arts to the point of indulgence. Celebrated artists enjoying unbelievable wealth and celebrity status for contribution to society which is often meaningless. Pickled Sharks (Turner prise), transient and near talentless pop musicians, film stars and media celebrities being just a few examples.
    To claim we have become “Slaves to science ” is arrant nonsense. Science and Arts are not mutually exclusive. Much art is beautiful, far more is pretentious tripe and utter trash!!
    The Arts have their place, but to the starving poor of the third world, the diseased and religiously persecuted, the Arts are an utter indulgent irrelevance.
    If humanity is to survive and prosper an understanding of the Sciences and of the STEM subjects, is vital. Sadly our political classes are mostly in ignorance of the sciences, at every level. Their bizarre and idiotic decisions display that so well. A simple example, Shetland Island Council promotes and acquires battery-powered cars to reduce CO2 emissions. It only has, at this time, fossil fuel-generated power to charge them with, the result. an increase in CO2 footprint. How scientifically mindless and stupid.

    • Jerry Falwell

      • November 3rd, 2019 12:10

      Oh and don’t get me started on electric cars. I’ve driven a so called gas guzzler for years. I’ve not seen any so called climate change myself, yet still I drive. It still snows in winter does it not, yet the ‘green’ lobby would have us believe that it will be raining frogs by 2025 if we don’t change our ways. What utter tosh.

      • David Spence

        • November 5th, 2019 9:17

        Actually Jerry, the winters in Shetland are exceptionally mild these days.

        You can, literally, count on your hands the number of days it snows. Whether this is due to human activity and this of global warming is maybe questionable, BUT the evidence would suggest it probably is the case human activity being the major cause?

        Is there a connection, overall, between global warming and much milder winters (locally)?

        I sincerely hope global warming is not a situation where, like most progression, some massive disaster has to take place before we do something about?

  • Haydn Gear

    • November 3rd, 2019 14:00

    I would have bet my last penny that Ian would have trotted out his well worn and dusty mantra again. There is no doubt that he is the most able and informed person in the world when it comes to indicating to the human race what has value and what does not. Both he and John Bercow ( ex Speaker) have at least one thing in common. Thus far, neither has yet been offered lordships for outstanding service to the community at large. What a disgraceful omission of fair play !!!!
    Maybe there’s a touch of the prophet in his own country not being recognised.

    • David Spence

      • November 5th, 2019 13:12

      Do I detect a wee bit of sarcasm there, Haydn? lol

  • Peter Hamilton

    • November 4th, 2019 18:02

    Can the SIC backing transition to battery powered cars reasonably be described as “bizarre and idiotic”? Maybe Ian Tinkler hasn’t fully thought this through.

    The council’s decision to buy some electric cars helps to extend the necessary infrastructure across the isles, meaning Shetland becomes more ready to welcome visitors with electric cars.

    The incentives to change over will probably improve and more people will want to swap over. They will need the infrastructure which the SIC’s decision to acquire a greener fleet supports.

    Shetland’s own generated electricity can and will become cleaner overtime, so it seems a little hard to justify Ian’s claim that the council’s decision was “scientifically mindless and stupid”.

    Its still not entirely clear what self-proclaimed scientific expert Ian’s beliefs and motives are, but climate change deniers might well describe preparing for the future as “bizarre and idiotic”.

    If Ian can’t come up with a different tune, perhaps he can change the record.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 5th, 2019 12:33

    Perhaps it may just be an intelligent option to wait until Shetland has a clean, non-diesel, power generating capacity be for investing tens and tens of thousands of pounds in an electric car fleet! Especially when tunning these cars/vans produce a greater carbon footprint than diesel engine cars would in any case.. A bit too deep for you Peter? Visiting Shetland with electric cars has nothing to do with whatever transport fleet the SIC operate. After all, we have a good towage fleet, when batteries run flat.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 5th, 2019 15:09

    ” self-proclaimed scientific expert!!”, your word Peter, just graduate knowledge. Any youngster with Standard Grade science subjects would understand my points, Peter Hamilton. Clearly The STEM subjects were well outside your teaching brief. Was it “Arty subjects” you taught perchance? It is “bizarre and idiotic” to use battery cars when your power source is diesel generated. You actually increase your carbon footprint! Simples. Now ask any well-educated youngster and they will explain the science to you.

    • John Thomas

      • November 5th, 2019 15:32

      “Simples” Well that is a scientific proof Popper would have been proud of!

      I think the personal attacks on Peter and his education (of which you know nothing) only make your point stronger.

      I am a well educated youngster. I agree with you entirely. Peter is wrong, you are right. Simples.

      • ian tinkler

        • November 6th, 2019 10:54

        Second Law of Thermodynamics should even be understood by a lecturer in childcare.!!

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