Noise Workshop

In 1998 Universal Joint, in conjunction with several other motivated individuals, developed and implemented a series of music making workshops. These workshops were originally aimed at young women who may not have previously had the opportunity to partake in the joy that is jamming. The success of the inaugural session was such that the original concept was reworked so as to create a format that provided for the development of seasoned musicians and beginners alike.

"We wanted non-musicians, especially the young women in our community who attended gigs, to know how good it feels to play loud music with your friends. There is nothing like it. We felt that in order for people to really experience that feeling, we needed to provide them with an ideal environment', says Elise.

That ideal environment was created for the first time at Palmerston North's community-recording-studio-cum-venue, The Stomach. The workshop took place over the course of a whole day. Refreshments were provided in the form of tea, coffee, and herbal teas, and participants were asked to bring food for a shared lunch. This helped establish a congenial atmosphere from the outset, and more importantly helped maintain participants' energy levels for the day. Emphasis, in terms of playing, was placed on listening skills. Preliminary lectures discussed the myth of prerequisite musical knowledge, and the safe use of powered musical equipment. Participants were introduced to a wide range of radically altered musical instruments (guitars with few or no strings, musical toys, and a wide variety of percussion conglomerations, mostly), and then set loose to play (with just the slightest hint of guidance from the Joint).

Elise reflects, "The result was mind-blowing. We had 25 women, most of whom had never picked up an instrument before, jamming together. We had vocal microphones set up and people just jumped up and improvised vocals, and everyone played TOGETHER almost the whole time. I sneakily recorded that first workshop through one condenser mic set up in the corner on top of a cupboard. All together around one and a half hours of music was recorded. You can hear the intense energy, even in the recording. I edited out the dodgy bits later on and ended up discarding about 4 minutes worth of stuff. That's pretty good - I bet most recording sessions don't end up with such a high percentage of worthwhile material!"