A workshop with Professor Elemental (IVFDF 2013 #2)

IVFDF 2013, Saturday morning, 10:20am (a fairly civilised time): Rapper workshop with Professor Elemental.

I had high hopes for this, and wasn’t disappointed :). Lots of songs I enjoy singing along to have very wordy, slightly tongue-twistery lyrics, so playing about trying to write something similar sounded like fun. Especially with a guy who raps about Earl Grey, Britishness, and other things close to my heart*. And it was really neat to meet someone I had Heard About On the Internet in reality – here’s “Cup of Brown Joy”, which I understand is the track that kicked everything off for him and which I came across online a few years ago:

Now when I say ‘Earl Grey’ you say ‘Yes Please’ … those are my kind of lyrics!

The workshop was great. Paul (Professor Elemental is of course a persona, not his real identity …) was engaging and friendly and encouraging – important attributes for someone who’s trying to get a big group of people they’ve never met before to rap out loud in front of each other, within the space of an hour.

After a few tips (use polysyllabic words to make things sound cleverer; when looking for rhymes don’t go for the first one you think of – try and come up with something more unexpected; rhyme syllables not words e.g. “weirdo” with “beard, though”) he led us in brainstorming a subject for our piece – which ended up being about folk festivals.

After coming up with a few sub-subjects (people, instruments, dances, drinking, muddy fields) we were split into groups and given a couple of things to work on between us. The group I was in was asked to write a couple of lines each about ‘people’ and ‘drinking’. It ended up being a bit more about drinking than people … possibly because lots of things rhyme with ‘ale’ and not very many things rhyme with ‘eccentric’.

Here’s what we came up with – read it out loud; it sounds better that way:

Coming down Dance on down to IVFDF and here you’ll see
All the freaks and geeks Eclectic Eccentrics
Collected eccentrics from University
But we’re shocked and saddened by the lack of real ale.
Fail. It’s not like it’s the Holy Grail!

My tankard is empty, there’s nothing for sale
I want to get wankered, I hanker for ale
A porter, a stout or an Indian pale …

Oops, I’m astounded, I’m getting exerted
It’s queer ’cause I’m normally quite introverted
this rant that I blurted could have been averted
– if only beer from the pumps had spurted

(If you’ve got a complaint our grammar ain’t been right
It’s because we’re hammered –
complain on our website.)

It’s obviously not the most amazing piece of spoken-word poetry ever, but for 7 people who’d never worked together before coming up with something in half an hour I think we did pretty well. (And I learnt a new word – I’d never heard the term ‘wankered’ before; I understand it means ‘very drunk’.) There was, indeed, a lack of real ale (not that it bothered me personally) at the Octagon bar on Friday night – and there was one of us with an empty tankard. I think we were the only group with a prop!

Other people worked on choruses / another verse and at the end of the workshop we performed it all over a pre-recorded backing track. It was pretty awesome. There were some particularly great lyrics in the other verse as well, although  unfortunately I can’t remember any of them – they definitely had the word ‘melodeon’ in there.

Overall, it was brilliant. Now I’m home I’ve started looking up more of Professor Elemental’s work, and definitely want his latest CD (when I have some money!). Here’s a track from it:

Hurrah for IVFDF and interesting workshops :).

*I suspect, in a similar fashion to Catholic converts being ‘more Catholic than the Pope’, as someone who moved to Britain and subsequently gained British citizenship I probably esteem Britishness slightly more than many other British people.

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One Response to A workshop with Professor Elemental (IVFDF 2013 #2)

  1. Pingback: Not those, those are my time-travel trousers … | Eudoxia Friday : Thoughtful Eclecticism

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