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Community Music Project

Community Music Project

This project is a continuation of another project where songs written as part of the Parallel Lives project, a community music project in which we try to bring together long-term Torry residents and people from Central and Eastern Europe who live in Torry through songwriting and singing.

We’ve Left Oor Hame in Aiberdeen, on the melody of Burns’s A Man’s A Man For A’ That, has been written people born and raised in Torry. Many of them have worked in the fish industry themselves or have family members who have done so. The song was written over the course of two workshops. In the first workshop we explored how herring girls might have felt about moving elsewhere to work in the herring industry, the community they moved to, home, and fellow herring girls. This inspired two members of the groups to write a number of verses that were then revised and added to by the full group in the second song writing workshop.

We Came Here For A Better Life, on the melody of Lothian Hairst, has been written by me, based on the experiences of a group of Polish and Czech mothers. Some of these participants arrived in Torry only a few months ago, others have lived here for over five years. They welcomed me to two of their mother-and-toddler sessions and were happy to share their experiences of moving to Torry, and their feelings towards home and fellow people from Central and Eastern Europe.

Though the stories of herring girls and people from Central and Eastern Europe vary, they have even more in common. The song We’ve Left Oor Hame in Aiberdeen tells the story of young women moving to Orkney to work in the herring industry as part of a quest to become independent and a desire to see new places and meet new people. At the same time they missed home, and in particular their mother, and were highly aware that their family needed the money they earned. The Polish and Czech mothers describe the tension between moving to Scotland with their children to reunite with their husbands while at the same time leaving behind their family in Poland or the Czech Republic, and thereby an important support network. Yet, in moving to Torry they’ve found a well-paid job, an attractive place to live, and a good school for their children.

Herring girls and people from Central and Eastern Europe thus share the experience of moving elsewhere to work, but whereas herring girls would return home after the summer, most of the people from Central and Eastern Europe intend to stay. Whether they stay for a long time or not, their migration is an economic migration involving the excitement and challenges of living far from the home, feelings towards home, fellow migrants and the community they’ve moved to.Community Music Project

Keep checking the blog for updates and details on future events related to this project.

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