Soundpost Singing Weekend: The Fairy Gathering Workshops

Posted: 16 Mar 19

We are excited to announce our workshops for the upcoming Singing Weekend in May. Have a read and see if something takes your fancy!

You can book your tickets now by following the link below:


Big Ballad Editing:

Fay Hield

Join Fay as she talks you through the process of turning the 6000-word Middle English story of Sir Launfal into a song to be sung. She will explore how she used ideas of content and themes, emotion and meaning, language and personalisation and of course slash and burn to whittle it into shape. You will have the chance to practice your newfound skills on a text during the session so feel free to bring along a long song you want to make your own, or you can use the materials Fay will provide.

Big Fairy Sing!:

Frances Watt

Exactly what it says on the tin - join Frances for a chance to air those lungs and come together to sing through some otherworldly group songs in harmony with each other and the little people. The sound we will make together will be magical and inspire you for the rest of the day. Just bring your selves, your lungs and your smiles.

Writing tunes for texts:

Fay Hield

Lots of song collectors were fascinated by folk song texts but didn’t bring the tunes with them, meaning there are a mass of words out there awaiting to be sung. Fay will describe her process of making new tunes for existing texts to bring them back into performance. Bring along any words you particularly like, or use the materials Fay will have to hand and have a go at writing your own tune to make a new song version that is truly yours.

Where fairies come from:

Carolyne Larrington

Hear about the different kinds of tales, songs and ballads that feature fairies and the fairy-world in British tradition and learn of some sources where you can find little-known stories. Carolyne invites you to think about the big questions that these stories ask – and answer. She'll also talk about some modern novels, stories and tv or film adaptations in which fairies and fairy-lore appear. We'll see how fairies have changed and shrunk over the centuries, and how they are reclaiming their original power and significance once more.

Songs on a theme:

Ben Nicholls

Often as musicians we want to pull together groups of songs which are thematically linked or even just find a song which is related to a particular place, event or topic. In this group, we’ll looking into methods for researching and finding songs which share a theme. The group will decide on a fairy related subject and see what can be found in terms of traditional songs and material out there in online archives. Participants are advised to bring laptop/tablet

Singing together turning the mundane into magic:

Lucy Farrell

There is something magical about a hoard singing together, so join in and create a new sound to call the otherworld. This group singing session with Lucy will focus on building techniques and range to find the spark in your own voice, and work through singing together to build confidence and skill to create real magic.

Fairies, fact and fiction:

Ben Nicholls

Using examples from Ben’s research into fairies in the RAF during WW2 for the Modern Fairies project, we’ll look into the origins of these stories and their use in propaganda of the time. It’s an interesting area as many of the references are widely available and within living memory, unlike the origins of many fairy stories and so perhaps can give us a glimpse of how a fairy story can originate. Participants will be invited to discuss their attitudes to the reality of fairies and how that impacts upon using fairy material.

What do you need to know?

Ben Nicholls, Fay Hield, Steven Hadley, Ewan McPherson

Join a panel of the artists as they ask how important the background of a song is to an audience or a performer. Should songs stand on their own feet or do they need provenance? What do audiences gain from knowing a songs background? How should that background be presented to best effect? Does knowing a songs background make a difference to a performer and how? You will be invited to ask questions and put in your twopenneth as well.

Releasing the Selkie

Terri Windling, Lucy Farrell, Fay Hield

Selkies are a magical being, sometimes seal sometimes human. In some stories one can get trapped on the land, unable to return to sea. Through this session, the group will write a cante fable with Lucy, Fay and Terri. We will explore the story of the selkie through words, pictures and discussion, then develop a storyboard and split into smaller groups to create the mythical beast. Come with imagination and excitement – confidence and skills will be provided.

Why do you like what you like?

Steven Hadley

How does a concert become more or less enjoyable for you as an audience member? Is your enjoyment the same as mine? This session invites you to think about last night’s concert and share your thoughts on what was (and wasn’t) meaningful, enjoyable, life affirming or interesting. A great opportunity to share, listen and learn from each other about what we all find interesting about this music and how it is performed.

Fairies, Loss, and the Environment:

Ewan McPherson & Terri Windling

In the 1800s, Alexander Carmichael took a trip to the Scottish Highlands and the postmaster showed him where the fairies used to live and explained why they left when the “big sheep” and the railway came. Though they have been gone some time, we still have a natural sense that some places are more magical, and closer to fairy than others. Join Ewan and Terri in a discussion to explore fairies as an analogy for mankind’s loss of connection to nature and wild places. Add your voice and see if we can find any answers or solutions.

Bringing fairyland to life:

Ewan McPherson & Andy Bell

The Modern Fairies Project has been fascinating. During the first two sessions, our minds were filled with hundreds of ideas, sparking off creative discussions and grand dreams of great works. How did we trim down these ideas to realise our project? In this world of big budget, blockbusters and ground shaking experiences, how can we make an artistic point without a huge budget and a team of hundreds? Hear about how our minds exploded and what happened next and generate ideas for organising your own artistic adventures.

Source to Song:

Marry Waterson & Ewan McPherson

Join Ewan as he probes Marry and they discus the journey of a song; from source material; be that a story, something in the news, an image, a memory, anything which provides the spark to create a song to the end product. How do you choose the poignant elements from a story? How do you forge the material once it’s been selected? Is it possible to define the point where the magic starts to happen? This workshop is not about the technical elements used to create a song, instead it provides a unique look into the instinctive, dark and secret art of a master songwriter.

Unique ways to play your instrument:

Barney Morse Brown

Join Barney on a sonic exploration to discover new and intriguing ways to play your chosen instrument. As a session musician, improviser, composer and performer, Barney has a wealth of knowledge and experience in exploring the possibilities of the cello and is keen to support other musicians on their own exploitative musical journeys. Starting from understanding the structure and sonic qualities of a single note, Barney will help you to unwrap new textures and sounds and encourage you on your journey through improvisation, regardless of your own experience.

Song writing together:

Barney Morse Brown & Marry Waterson

Through the world of fairies, Barney and Marry worked closely gaining a deeper understanding of the shared writing process, working to a brief, setting words to music and exploring the many ways these things can be done. This is your opportunity to work with these intriguing musicians whether you have song ideas, words or music or whether you come just with an interest in song writing. Working closely with you, offering ideas, helping form your own musical brief, being on hand to help with arrangements, you are sure to head home with a wealth of ideas and suggestions for your journey into song writing.

Creating musical landscapes:

Barney Morse Brown

Being closely associated with the human voice, the cello's natural ability to connect on a deep emotional level lends itself perfectly to creating emotive lines, taking the listener to the core of their emotions. Learning to strip away everything and revealing the foundation of all musical structure can be a daunting process. Working alongside Barney you will take steps to discover what is at the heart of your instrument and through this discovery, learn the techniques and ear training to place the first few building blocks to create your own musical landscapes. Improvisation need not be a scary word, let's explore!

Inspiring starting points:

Marry Waterson

How do you find something to write about? Marry will talk about the starting points and inspiration behind her own songs, from inscriptions on headstones, Aesop’s Fables and Japanese superstitions. You will then be invited to go into the wilds of Dungworth to find your own inspiration and come back to share with Marry and the group the ideas you have and all talk about how they might be developed. You will leave this session with a deeper insight into how to go about starting songs and sowing the seeds for your own compositions.

Walk to a magical to place:

Jenna Walker

Spend an hour or so taking in the glorious local countryside, walking over hill and dale to arrive at Stoneface - a magical sculpture park where a fairy exhibition will be on display showing lots of materials form the wider project. Take part in an informal group singing workshop run by Jenna where you can stretch those vocal chords along with the birds.