Writing with scientists and songwriters from Devon and beyond in the beautiful surroundings of Dartmoor is a memory with some wonderful contrasts. Balanced against the somewhat negative science messages of how climate change will be detrimental to the natural world, are an array of inspiring and positive stories of how people are joining together to make a difference. In all of this, there is a stark conflict between how we engage with talk of global changes, compared to the emotion that is generated from an individual character’s tale. Even the weather joined in, changing our mood from a hot summer’s day writing under nearby trees, to a subtly darker spirit that came with torrential rain and composing in shadowy corners. I feel very lucky that life enables me to pursue my dual passions for mathematics and music, but I learned a great deal watching scientists and songwriters questioning each other and developing songs that combined real science messages with real people and real life.
What struck me most was that the song-writers had a great desire for new inspiration, not that they are lost for ideas, but somehow the themes associated with science research, and even individual words, sparked off their imagination in new and exciting ways, as they wove their chosen morsels of climate science into some beautiful songs. Someone asked Peggy Seeger, at a recent Q&A session in Sidmouth, why aren’t songwriters writing protest songs anymore? Well I think the answer is that they are! They’re singing out loud and strong about many important topics, and they’re hungry for further knowledge to inspire their work, but like all the previous “greats”, we just need to seek them out and help them to the stage.
Senior Scientist at the Met Office, free-lance singer-songwriter and Climate Stories Songwriting Lead