Resonate Crossover Sessions

Project co-ordinator Rory Donaghy on the Nerve Centre's community recording project for UK City of Culture

What is the Resonate project?

The Resonate Project is a year-long music project with three main goals: to document the musical life of the City of Culture year, to create access to recording, and to facilitate new musical collaborations. All the recordings from the year will be put up for streaming on an interactive website so that the public can get a flavour of the many musical lives of the city.

Is it purely a UK City of Culture initiative, or will it continue to run beyond 2013?

It is primarily a City of Culture initiative but feedback from participants has been so positive that we are currently looking at elements of the project that we can run on a more regular basis.

What has your involvement been with the project?

I am project co-ordinator and also one of the recording engineers, but I frequently find myself wishing I was a musician on the other side of the microphones, such has been the enjoyment of participants and the quality of the music produced.

The project has produced various recordings to date, including a recording of 'Noreen Bawn' by 73-year-old Derry~Londonderry native Kathleen Tracey (listen below), and the Crossover Sessions (listen above). Who was involved with those recordings?

Many, many musicians, both professional, semi-pro and amateur have been involved, often working together on the same piece of music. It has been these interactions between novice and veteran, young and old, that have been one of the most rewarding aspects of the project. It helps keep everyone fresh.

What have the sessions been like thus far?

Often brilliant, sometimes challenging, but never boring or safe. The untried nature of the experimental recording projects and one-off gigs that are our primary focus create a unique creative atmosphere, which has been inspiring for the paricipants. And for the most part the musicians and staff have left with a big smile on their faces saying, ‘We have to do this again!’

The quality of the songs produced is remarkable, both in terms of composition and production. Can you tell us about the process of recording them?

For many of the projects we asked the musicians to come along and bring nothing to the table but an open mind. This can be a risky approach, of course, but it has led to a fresh approach to composition for almost everyone involved and immediately dispenses with inhibitions or protracted deliberation.

If it’s good, it goes in the arrangement. If it’s not working, we move on and try something else. We have also tried to be as flexible as possible in our technical approach, using various acoustic spaces and recording techniques to try to keep the sonics interesting as well.

What has been your personal highlight of the project?

Working with eight local DJs and electronic musicians during the Celtronic festival in June, and hearing how they naturally evolved into a coherent musical ensemble over the space of three days, to the point where they played an impromptu live gig. That was something truly amazing.

How can people get involved in Resonate in the weeks and months ahead?

We periodically have call-outs online and in local press to recruit musicians for the collaborative projects. We also advertise to the wider public for our occasional pop-up studios in various locations around town offering free access to recording. The next round will be in December. Visit the Resonate website for more information.