The project's reception has been warm. Opinions coming to us are always differently interesting. We have been noticing that the general attitude towards the whole thing is of a type of deep curiosity, which delights us immensely, but there is a problem. 'Where are all the women?'.
In Rodrigo's piece, only a third of the participants were women. Now, in Sara's piece, the same seems to start happening - or actually, it was actually getting worse - in terms of gender representational equality. Because of that, we decided to pay more attention to the phenomenon, challenging it formally. We gathered a bunch of contacts, and talked to the right people so there we went, discovering that women are in fact plenty (and fantastic), but that they, for some reason, do not simply pop up within the group of contacts we intuitively bring up or, alternatively, are exceedingly not the first ones taking the initiative to come to us and asking to participate. We have noticed that there was a clear difference in the way each of the genders finds its social expression in the field of music. A certain 'magic veil' makes of many women and their work something mysteriously translucid.
In 'The state of things', a piece based on interviews with participants, Sara has been discovering that there is really an unbalance in genders in regards to questions of access to formal learning experiences and professional development. The impediments manifest themselves since infancy and last long, producing consequences, which get indeterminately reflected in the lives of several women. Some of the female participants told us already of memories (that in normal contexts don't usually emerge as conversational themes), about this or that opportunity of getting involved with this or that kind of music being actively and consciously negated to them. The most common case is that of women with brothers who, whilst the brothers were part of some sort of formal musical activity (such as a local philharmonic band), females had to stay at home learning the domestic skills.
With a critical and not conformist attitude towards the real state of things, Sara decided to discover it, as much as to modify it with a positive feminist action. We have noticed that a simple attention paid to the problem, already changes the behavioural matrix of our community before it. The tendency is to naturally find super interesting women, whose work (and even their own existence) we did not know about. They sprout up to us here at PIPINOIR and say 'are you looking for women? do you want me to ask these female friends of mine?'. The difference in number maybe was not the problem so much. The problem lies more in the silence that we cultivate every time a huge injustice is dressed up as a small and simple fluke event.
Today we had Lídia Araújo, Marta Capelo and Helena B. Camacho. Lídia, from Ponta do Sol, but with lively memories from her childhood spent in Venezuela, revealed to us the distance she maintains from the sonic world of Funchal. Not without some reluctance in regards to her upcoming performance, she guided us through the tenebrous memories she kept of the disastrous events recently caused in this city because of water and fire. Amongst musical memories, Marta taught us about metal energy and about how we can help our lungs being the healthiest possible! This, pertinently through didactic songs of her authorship. Helena was incredibly succinct and productive content-wise. We found ourselves having recorded a full compendium of songs, memories and sounds in such a short time period and, as soon as we knew, the interview had finished. She even sent Sara to peek at the nosy gossips of others at Barreirinha [a famous private beach in Funchal], for that was one of her adolescence's sonic memories.
In respect paid to the new equilibrium, there were men as well! We had Tiago Castro in the morning, who informed us about the victory that our Rajão has been accomplishing there in the lands of Lisbon's academic bands. In the beginning, they did not want him to play that 'little thing', out of format, that is neither a cavaquinho [Brazilian relative instrument] neither a ukulele and surely is no guitar… Now, and this is after some long persistence, everyone wants to learn how to play and compose for that interesting instrument. A certain mystery is there in its reentrant tuning system that is able to convince anyone with minimum curiosity.
Paulo Gouveia told us about his jazz trio 'Dona Zica', and about the arrangement, which they have made of the (now retro) game 'Sonic'. We also discovered that he learned the drums, practising rock rhythms alone, in the rehearsal place of his older brother, Filipe. Every time the older guys would stop playing, there went Paulo, because only then the room would be left for the 'children'.
Recording stills selected by Sara Rodrigues and Rodrigo B. Camacho
Photography by Sara Rodrigues