Performance group: Guy Daws, Lottie Scraton & Ophelia Neville
We met to discuss ideas for the topic of our song and Guy suggested writing about the refugee crisis. We decided to write from the point of view of one refugee on their journey and use our music to represent that journey in some way. After having visited The Jungle in Calais last year, I really wanted to get across the kind of imagery I saw through our lyrics & as a group we are all interested in raising awareness of the current refugee crisis.
The actual lyric writing for the song felt quite slow. This may be due to a lack of confidence within the group or different writing styles we might have. I would have liked to have had more constructive, healthy discussion with all our ideas so they could be the best thought out lyrics possible, not just 1st draft kind of lyrics: I was surprised as a lot of my ideas were taken on straight away when actually I knew they could be improved. I came up with some rough ideas for a full first verse and second verse which were taken on straight away, with the only changes being made to two lines at the end of the second verse. I struggled with this as I was hoping for a lot of feedback and other ideas that we could use to form a more well thought out lyric. The same happened again when I suggested the lyrics for the bridge.
In terms of the melody, it came after I was inspired by the Syrian national anthem. I thought we could start the song in quite a major fashion very similar to the anthem and gradually break it up emphasising the minor notes to represent the refugee becoming further and further away from their country and home. With the key of the song as D Major, we decided to start on the B Minor chord using the B as a pedal note throughout the song on the piano which emphasises the melancholy feel of the song. The dissonance of the pedal note with the D chord again, creates an unnerving, eerie element to the song. Musically, we didn’t want to overcomplicate the song or make it too full: simplicity and space being key, as typically refugees may have lost family and friends and can be quite lonely. My piano playing (in the higher octave) would echo Lottie’s piano playing, whilst Guy’s electric with his reverb and delay pedals, an echo of our combined piano playing, would create layers and texture amongst the simplicity.
We decided on the structure for the song quite naturally whilst in a practise: a structure to naturally show the story of the refugee. We decided that any harmonies would come in on ‘home’ to represent the community and family that was at home but now has gone leaving the one lone voice. The overlapping of voices of the bridge & chorus towards the end represents the confusion a refugee may experience and the emotional conflict of missing home, searching for somewhere new and experiencing hardship.
Our song title ‘33°30’ is derived from the geographic coordinates of Damascus, Syria’s capital. The latitude coordinate is 33°30’36” N. To simplify we use 33°30.
Once a beautiful mist settling on the hills,
Now clouds of smoke drowning the air,
Once a playful ground of children’s laughter,
Now a blanket of rubble
The pounding waves of conflict
(and) The crippling sounds of war
My ancient town is falling
Now its obsolete and poor
All I have is a photograph
Of a distant past
Of the place that I called home
That I called home
I’m searching for a new place
Where I can start again