Call and Response
Brighton’s stony shore saw us collect at music college, a roomful of ripped jeans reflected in the tall walls of an old dance studio, nervous silence accompanied by tinny noodling on unamplified electric guitars. Of all the exercises we learnt to enjoy, Call and Response was a favourite: one led improvising through the scales and another echoed close behind, climbing, falling, mimicking, mocking, shadowing, rocking. On Brighton’s stony shore we collected by night to swap stories and discuss our favourite artists, those pioneers who inspired us to follow, to mimic, to audition.
The moon, heavenly pale conductor who played the pebbles with her wet orchestra of waves as we sat breaking into bands; she saw the quiet crowds years later at Bestival, watching windswept from beyond as Björk and her choir lulled us emotionally, hushing with instinctual harmonies mysterious yet familiar.
Time goes on and jamming is rare amongst fleeting days packed with dreary demands and due dates. The hail-fall of the keyboard taps a more persistent sound than the evasive blue lilt of the guitar and craving connection it’s left for wonder, can a writer improvise alone? Without the immediate commands and probes of a partner, off what art can we bounce, on which shores does inspiration still break? Call and Response becomes a song played by different players: we look again to those pioneers, returning to the source of our inspiration.
The moon sails steady and illuminates the many paths that lead to the sea.
Guest post by James Bruce May (MA Creative and Life Writing, 2011). James’ short story Cosmothology, based on the Call and Response exercise described above, is dedicated to and inspired by Björk’s Cosmogony. You can read it in Issue 4 of Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, produced by the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies Program at Western New Mexico University.
James currently lives in London with his girlfriend and his guitar. His work appears in journals including HARK Magazine, The Treacle Well, Word Bohemia, The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Fat City Review, The Puffin Review, The Stare’s Nest and Gravel Magazine.