Keaton Henson with Britten Sinfonia: The science behind music and emotions

9 AUGUST 2018

After three years of crafting, Six Lethargies was finally delivered to us in shape of a multi-sensory show.

The fact that Keaton Henson battles with anxiety isn’t exactly a secret at this point. With only 32 live performances in his entire music career, Six Lethargies finally gave him the power to share his story without having to perform. The six-part composition explored themes of mental illness, empathy and human connection. The story was handed to Britten Sinfonia, which would later be told to us on a multi-sensory show at Barbican Centre on the 20th July.
Selected members of the public had their emotional levels controlled by biometrics, and the results were translated into what, at some point, turned out to be a lighting show.

People were making their way to their seats and it was obvious that there was still some confusion. Every once in a while you could overhear a “You think they will play some of his older music?”, clearly showing some members of the audience had no idea what they were about to witness. Unfortunately for some, the Orchestra walked into the stage and, out of 37 musicians, none was Keaton Henson.

According to Keaton, the first piece, Initium, was “an ode to something different” meant to have “space to breathe,” and the public reacted accordingly. There was only one strong light hovering the Maestro, and, if we disregard the cellist that knocked over her music stand, there were no abrupt changes. 
The concert definitely reached its peak with Trauma/In Chaos and the Unease Concerto. The fast compasses, low and high notes, staccatos and strong vibratos, left Barbican Centre in flashing lights. The two most intense pieces transmitted a feeling of uneasiness, followed by two strong red lights pointing directly at the audience. The auditorium looked like a scene taken out of a psychological thriller. 
Thomas Gould, the first violinist, was playing so aggressively that the couple sitting next to me whispered: “I think he is about to break that violin."

Contrasting to the previous representation of trauma and anxiety, On Sorrow portrayed a sense of hopelessness. This “requiem for depression” filled the stage with a pale blue light, which only grew stronger on every note transitioning to Breathing Out. This final part of the composition started to display signs of hope, and the public definitely felt that as the lights got warmer and stronger, ending the act in a full circle, with only one light hovering the maestro.

Disregarding the random clap here and there from a clueless member of the audience (who assumed a part had come to an end every time the musicians stopped playing), the public was silent and very respectful, letting the symphonies take control over their bodies and mind.

At the end of the show, Keaton himself went on stage to thank everyone. The tears in his eyes proved how emotionally invested he had been throughout the night. His question “If I write how it feels to me, will it make you feel the same?” had been answered.
Emotions can indeed be transcribed to music and, most importantly, shared with others.

Saal Digital UK - Photo book | Review

4 AUGUST 2018

Saal Digital UK - Photo book | Review

As many of you surely know, a few months ago Saal Digital was looking for photographers to test their products and printing services. The company would give out a voucher in exchange for a review of a product of your choice. This would be my second time using Saal's services, so I chose the 15x21 photo book.

Saal Digital is a professional photo lab specialized in high-quality photo products, including photo books, photo prints, calendars, etc, so, as expected, the photobook I ordered had the high-quality printing and binding. The images were sharp and true to their colours which, if you've ever tried to print pictures before, you know it's something hard to achieve.

Saal's services are something I would definitely recommend, whether you need a photo book, a poster or a new business card.

Saal Digital Portugal - Álbum digital | Review

19 JANUARY 2017

No passado dia 9 Janeiro encomendei um álbum digital através da Saal, uma empresa de impressões fotográficas alemã já conhecida por muitos pelos seus anúncios nas redes sociais. O objetivo dos anúncios seria encontrar fotógrafos para testar os seus produtos: álbuns digitais, calendários, quadros e entre muitos outros. Após ler o feedback da Cláudia decidi arriscar e testar por mim mesma.

Encomendei o álbum quadrado 19x19 composto por 26 páginas em papel fotográfico mate e capa brilhante. Um género de coffee table book, pequeno, mas ideal para um portfólio físico facilmente transportável.

O processo de criação do álbum é simples e bastante rápido graças ao software que não só é prático, mas bastante eficaz. Existem já layouts pré-definidos que ajudam quem não é designer friendly.

Quanto à impressão, os pretos nas imagens são ligeiramente escuros, no entanto, não é nada alarmante e que não seja compensado pelas cores brilhantes no resto da fotografia.

Com preços acessíveis a partir de 19,95€ e um prazo de entrega entre três a cinco dias, os álbuns da Saal são, sem sombra de dúvida, o novo melhor amigo de qualquer fotógrafo.


A Tuesday night about Pleasure

28 June 2017


From ghost stories to broken amps and acapella covers, the concert was far from perfect – which also made it one of the best I have ever experienced

About 2 weeks ago I headed to Oxford Circus to watch Sondre Lerche and his band perform at The Borderline. For those who have never heard of Sondre, he is a Norwegian indie rock/jazz(ish) musician that has just released his 8th studio album, Pleasure. The new record features a varied number of styles: while I Know Something That’s Gonna Break Your Heart reminds us of the psychedelic rock of Tame Impala, songs like I’m Always Watching You or Soft Feelings give us more of an 80s disco vibe.

I’ve been a fan of his work for a while now, so to finally see him perform live got me really excited as from the moment I bought those tickets (yes, tickets. I somehow managed to drag a friend with me (thanks Rita)).

Anyway, as I was saying, I went to The Borderline and, just like always, got there way too early. The opening act only started at 8pm, as the shy keyboard player Alexander Von Mehren walked on stage, accompanied by David Heilman (the drummer) and Chris Holm (the bass guitarist). The feeling that they were as excited to perform as we were to watch was eminent on the smiles they all carried. The three played some tunes from Alexander’s album, Aéropop and, as they were doing it, Alex explained the thought process behind each and every song he wrote. With funny lyrics that talk about Norwegian politicians and winter, the hour passed as if it had only been five minutes.


When the time came, everyone had already forgotten the actual reason we were all there. The trio left the stage wearing bigger smiles than the ones they walked in, knowing they were coming back to a crowd that will happily welcome them once more. The time that separated Sondre from us was getting shorter and you could feel the excitement and enthusiasm sinking in the room as the minutes passed.

Everyone walked back to the stage, but there was still no sign of Sondre. The band then began to play what seemed like an odd beat with a lot of drums. “Soft Feelings”, I whisper to my friend. You could see everyone’s head turning round to see where he would come from. Jokes on all of us, he came from right behind the stage curtain.

With his very own dance moves, Sondre performed Soft Feelings and Legends with passion and dedication, as if it were the first time. Everything was going according to plan when something very unexpected happened: right when he was about to start Phantom Punch (his most punk rock hit), the amp broke.

And now what?
We all had the same question.

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To keep us distracted and entertained, David, the drummer, told us some ghost stories about the hotel room they were staying in. The tension was still noticeable but everyone was laughing and enjoying the uniqueness of the moment. As they realized they weren’t going to be able to fix it themselves, they had to call someone. Even though everything seemed to be going down, Sondre didn’t quit right there, and so sang acapella. That’s when I knew, not only was he talented as a musician and music producer, but also as an artist.

The amp couldn’t be fixed, but the show couldn’t stop either, so some sort of “technological revolution”, as David Heilman proudly called it, was made and everything went on like nothing had happened in the first place. The remaining setlist had the regular amount of Pleasure, a bit of Please and a taste of Two Way MonologueTo wrap the night, Sondre, by himself, presented us with an acoustic version of I’m Always Watching You, a performance that sent shivers down every single person’s spine in that audience.

Shortly after that everyone got kicked out of the venue by the security guards (who were just really doing their job, no hard feelings) and, even though we barely had time to talk to Sondre or the band, I’m sure we all went home with an overwhelming good feeling and our hearts full of pleasure.

Are the Oscars genre biased?

12 MAY 2017

Are the Oscars genre biased?

Since the Oscars first premiered, they have always been known for their presumably biased choices. However, movies can also help with that matter

The Oscar bait, a well-known term by the film community, is what we call a movie that appears to have been produced only for the sole purpose of being nominated for an Academy Award (commonly known as an “Oscar”).

When a film wins an Oscar, the profit made is beyond imaginable. According to IBISWorld the best picture for the last 5 years has had an average budget of $17 million, and a profit of $82.5 million at the box-office. These numbers could easily influence producers on creating something that is believed to have a higher chance of earning a nomination. Let's take the example of Damien Chazelle, the young film director from LA. Damien had written La La Land previous to Whiplash, however, he knew that a musical like that would only ever see the light of day with a bigger budget. With that being, he wrote Whiplash that, not surprisingly, ended up being nominated for best picture in 2015, which gave him the exposure and funds to finally start producing his dream musical, La La Land.

It is possible that Damien knew Whiplash would be nominated because of the Oscars' genre bias. When asked if the best movies win, Thelma Adams, a film critic, laughs and says "God, no, that's the simple answer. American critics are biased, they are majority white and are looking at movies through a highly educated, professional class, white male lens." Movies like Whiplash, serious dramas with weighty inspirational themes are the ones that are most likely to win, even though real-life inspired events and blockbusters also have a very high chance of being nominated. On the other hand, the least likely to be nominated for best picture are foreign-language films, only having 3 nominations since 1973 which are Life Is Beautiful (1997, Italian), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, Taiwan), and Amour (2012, French.)

It is more than clear that the best films don't win the Oscars, but how far will the Academy go? In the last 13 years, 62% of the nominations were dramas, from which 61 ended up winning. Every best picture winner since 2010 has fallen into one of two camps: they have either been a real-life story about characters who battled some sort of adversity or injustice (Spotlight, 12 Years a Slave, Argo, The King's Speech), or else they've been the film industry (Birdman, The Artist, Argo again).

Whoever wins the awards, there is one thing we can be sure of - the Oscar brand is real. Movie directors and producers that know how to get to the 500$ golden statue will profit from it, a lot.

Written and designed for Digital Journalism II
(BA) Journalism at London South Bank University