On World Mental Health Day 2020, Intercultural Roots launched a captivating global project called Ripples. Ripples is an ongoing project that began by commissioning 7 initiating artists from 7 different time zones across the earth alongside members of the public to share artistic responses to the question “what matters to you?” Throughout the late Autumn and Winter of 2020 there were five specific release dates and times for participants to publish their responses. I (Will Crawford, Founder of quietnote) was honoured to perform from a public role alongside the seven initiating artists based all across the world.
“RIPPLES is responding to the various challenges that we as individuals have had to face especially during COVID-19. Many people’s lives have been affected and although we are “in the same storm we are in different boats.” *1
“Intercultural Roots came into existence 3 years ago with an innovative vision: to bring together practitioners, artists, scholars and teachers to create collaboratively and develop their practices for health and social change.”*2
I had personally never been involved with something so far reaching and at a time of isolation Intercultural Roots found the perfect way to connect and bring together a world-wide community of artists. I found that the cultural variety alongside the artistic variation in the responses was inspiring. It became a highlight of those autumnal and winter months to wait patiently for the upcoming deadline and then to watch and indulge myself in the responses of so many artists.
time was my own response to Ripples. I knew from the beginning that my response was going to be a musical composition on my primary instrument, the classical guitar, but at first I was unsure of exactly how to go about it. When I was reflecting on the question ‘what matters to you?’ alongside the specific release times I realised that I wanted to make a connection between the two. Thus, time was thought into creation – a five movement piece where each movement captures the feeling that resonated inside me at each release time. If you have an account to quiet note you can read specific meditations and visualisations for these pieces. If you don’t, not to worry, you can still read about the compositions and listen to them below. If you would like to access the meditations sign up for free below!
What matters to you? On this day I wanted to capture simplicity
Simplicity may seem an odd choice to relate to sunrise, which in itself is a complex kaleidoscope of colours. However, the feeling I am trying to capture is the serenity of watching this wonderful event take place first thing in the morning, wherever you are in the world, and just allowing yourself to be present whilst being washed in the first rays of morning light. A moment in time when the rest of the day is undecided and life can, just for a moment, seem simple. Allowing ourselves to take forth this feeling of simplicity into our day helps and enables us to find more peace in our busy lives. Using only a handful of chords and a single rhythm I try to capture this idea of simplicity.
What matters to you? On this day I wanted to capture calm
This piece is inspired by the peace and calm of a warm afternoon. Even though the sun is at its highest and strongest point this often causes the earth and its habitants to retire into the shade or an afternoon siesta, creating a beautiful contrast of high and low energy. This is also portrayed musically through a soft tone on the guitar as well as keeping a quiet and soft dynamic (volume) range.
What matters to you? On this day I wanted to capture gratitude
How often do we say thank you to the sun? This movement is trying to capture the gratitude that I feel for the warmth and energy the sun delivers to our planet every day. Without the daily energy of the sun life on this planet could not exist. This piece is also a farewell to the sun at the end of the day, as she graces us with the beauty of a sunset.
What matters to you? On this day I wanted to capture mystery.
Mystery creates interest, excitement and sometimes fear… Through this movement I wanted to capture the secrets of the midnight world, a place which remains hidden to day-time creatures. Through the use of strange harmonies I allow the guitar to paint the sound world of the dark November midnight. Mystery lies all around us – the trick is knowing how to find the mystery in the plain old every day.
This project created various challenges for me along the way, one of them though was the publishing time, in this instance I actually fell asleep and missed the publish time and had to quickly upload it first thing in the morning! Whoops…
What matters to you? On this day I wanted to capture wonder
At the time of publication, the planet was in the middle of a rare celestial event with Jupiter and Saturn merging in the night sky; the universe once again showing us that we are all a tiny part of a wondrous and infinite cosmos. Sadly, where I was living at the time the night sky was covered with clouds and I was unable to see the aligned planets. This piece signifies two endings, it was the end of the long nights, as the 22nd of December would be the first day in which the days started to grow longer once again. The second ending was the closing of this musical suite and thus my small contribution to this global project.
“The things that I think make this project exciting is the diversity of the artists, the possibility of a global conversation with a focus on local voices.” *3
Ripples for me was a chance to keep the enjoyment and energy of new exciting adventurers and collaborations alive in a time where nearly all of this had been taken from the world. Ripples provided a COVID safe way to become part of something much bigger than just myself. It fuelled my inspiration and gave me a wonderful direction of composition, something which I know many artists were struggling with during the pandemic. Like many artists I take a lot of inspiration from nature and becoming locked up in my city centre flat meant in some ways I became cut off from large outdoor natural spaces. However, I found new connections to all the artists involved in ripples; one artist, Takumã Kuikuro based in South America, Brazil moved me deeply with his passion for film and bringing alive the urgent and upsetting messages of the native indigenous villages.
Steering Group Member Dr Elizabeth de Roza (Singapore) said “Ripples seeks to connect people and asks a fundamental question ‘What matters to you?’ In times like this with COVID-19, where in some countries, people are separated from their families and some are isolated – it is important for us to pause and reflect and share our sentiments – so Ripples reaches out and connects people – bringing communities together so that we don’t feel so isolated & alone.” *3
Steering Group Member Shabari Rao said “The things that I think make this project exciting is the diversity of the artists, the possibility of a global conversation with a focus on local voices.” *3
Intercultural Roots’ Executive Director Dr Alex Boyd said “We’re grateful to all those who have cocreated Ripples and the support it is gaining all over the world. It offers a chance to deeply listen and learn from one another, the start of a conversation that will hopefully bring us closer to address some of the anxieties and issues we face today such as inequality, injustice and the climate crisis – and celebrating those things that bring us joy and love in our lives.” *3
If you are interested in finding out more about Ripples or Intercultural Roots’ work, then check out on the following links:
Click here to get in touch with any thoughts or questions. Intercultural Roots has granted permission for the text and images from their website to be used in this article.