Well Versed

An Ode to trail blazers

When we look through the history of music there are many trend setters and power houses that have allowed the artist to truly express themselves, and some are more widely recognised than others. 

Whether it be contributions to technology, or compositions that help us refine our own sound, there are many fearless females that have been both in the spotlight and the shadows of the music, trailblazers who have taken the industry to where it is today. 

For International Women’s Day, this is our ode to those trailblazers. 

To start we’re taking it back, way back, to Clara Schumann: classical composer and concert pianist, and the first to perform a Brahms work publicly. To some, it may be possible to think that classical music has nothing to do with music today. Oh, how wrong you would be. 

Classical music comes from a deep understanding of the musical language, of which Clara was fluent. At 13 she was one of the first pianists to play from memory and is lauded as one of the finest musicians and composers of the romantic era. What’s more, she became the breadwinner in her marriage to fellow composer Robert Schumann, which isn’t super common now, let alone in the 1800s! 

If you want to absorb some of Clara’s skill and understand music on a deeper level, consume classical music.  It engages more areas of the brain in comparison to ‘modern day pop’ music, and from there you will have more tricks up your sleeve to write with.

Talking of pop tunes (pop meaning popular, it is not a dirty word)…

 

 

Madonna. Aretha Franklin. Mariah Carey. Carole King. They are all queens of this genre who broke boundaries and have undoubtedly taken pop to new heights in the 20th Century, forging the paths for many young female artists to follow in their footsteps.

Plagued with the ‘diva’ stereotype, many don’t know that Mariah is the writing force behind her songs, and is present every step of the process from producing to project managing to the live performance. And she does not to shabby a job too. Selling over 120million records – some may say she owned the 90’s – along side the great Whitney Houston with her vocal cords of gold.  

2018 Saw her break a streaming record with ‘All I want for Christmas’, written twenty-four years earlier in 1994. Some of you aren’t even that old. 

And who do we think of when we hear ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T’?  The one, the only, Aretha. The first woman to be inducted into the rock and rock hall of fame.  Her voice commands attention and you can hear her life story through her tone. 

With Carole King penning the hit ‘you make me feel like a natural woman’.  Carole is one of the most successful singer-songwriters, and if you haven’t yet, listen to her 1971 album release ‘Tapestry’, and you will recognise songs that have been reimagined in the years since and stand the test of time.

The proof of the path these women forged? The Grammys this year was truly taken over by people who have been handed the torch. Lady Gaga, Cardi B and Dua Lipa. 

Kacey Musgraves wins album of the year, the new arrival H.E.R. takes home best RnB performance, and Ariana Grande gets best pop vocal album. Ariana who has, at one point, occupied most of the top 10. Her track ‘7 rings’ was streamed a record-breaking 16.9 million times in a week.  She has certainly reached a new height with her latest releases and is exhibiting strength of character in the toughest of times. As is Lady Gaga, who has been open about tragedies in her past but let her art, both in music and film, overshadow any of the external drama.

These and many other women were passionate at times when it must have been difficult to be so.  We celebrate them this international women’s day and every day. They have light-the-way type DNA. Fascinating wonderful beings starting the future mosh pits and stadium sing-alongs. 

 

 

Take Missy Elliot. She has written and produced for Ciara, SWV, Beyonce, Whitney, and many more as well as crafting her own sound. Soon as you hear her say the words “head banga” you know what tune you’re in for and appropriately Get Your Freak On. 

But it’s not just those that hit the stage that deserve recognition. Almost moreso are the engineers, the pioneers, and creative geniuses that pushed music further from behind the scenes. 

They engaged our imaginations to take us on wild musical rides. Have you danced to EDM in the fields of a festival? One of the first producers of electronic sound, on machines probably larger than your body, had a hand in your gumboot dance moves. That’s Daphne Oram.  You can thank Daphne. 

Who else do we love? Hedy Lamarr. Not exactly music-based, but she invented something called frequency hopping, which was a type of guidance system used in WWII – and later the principles of it were used in bluetooth and wifi technology. Are you a fan of streaming music with your wifi switched on and your Bluetooth headphones connected? That’s our girl Hedy. 

She is in the inventor’s hall of fame and rightly so. 

The effortless creativity and ingenuity of these women is what we are thankful for – to those who gifted us with the music, with the strategies and experiments that pushed us forward. That keep us ever inquisitive and in love with the arts. 

 

 

These humans have talent and skill in common, and we know, as creatives, how influential we can be with the products and art we create. We can reach the world because of the advances in technology and music that these women made, How fabulous is that?

The road to getting to this point has likely been long – and we thank those that came before us.  Those who gifted the tools we have before us today.

Imagine how amazing it will be for the women that come after us.  How very easy the journey will become. That is why we take a moment to appreciate the pioneers. The system buckers. The Trailblazers. 

So on this International Women’s Day we say be like these women. Have vision. Take action.  Play around with that production technique. Write that song you have been thinking about and let everyone hear. Everything you need to do this is at your fingertips and we give thanks to the brilliant minds that came before and that are still with us. Write, record, and put it online with Spinnup – we are eagerly waiting to hear it and have a few things up OUR sleeve to support you along the way.

Listen to some of our own female trailblazers on the Spinnup: Girl Powered playlist