Tag Archives: #halfmast

Meeting the moment 2021 #15

When love comes to town it arrives as a cloud of sound and muscle memory aides accompany the voices employed to bring forth harmonious blasts worthy of Phil Spector and any Hammond organ – that’s how I feel when a room is full of choristers swaying to the beat under the direction of the maestro Tony Backhouse. Within an hour or so, sixty voices are singing as one and each individual contribution offers a placeholder; we are each others scaffold.  The power of sound and the spaces of silence in between are all the reminder I need of the value of making room for both. 

It’s been a noisy week and at times a cacophony in public places where the ones who have loud hailers still seem to drown out those who are speaking truth to power.  A number of conversations I have been in this past week have been washed in colonisation, under written by the blood of martyred First Nations and laced with the deepest of griefs of loss of love, family, friends, land and sea.   I get to sing in a repurposed church hall with confidence, saturated in goodness while around five hundred Aboriginal people have died in custody in the last thirty years, and flags at half mast for the death of the 99 year old consort of the monarch, fly in their face. This is a tone deaf moment.

I am lost in curiosity about what might be possible if all the flags flew at half mast every time there was a death in custody, let’s start small though with the Aboriginal flag in our city square. (The square is named Victoria, and the city Adelaide, named after the consort of a monarch William IV, who on his death, having failed to produce a child the monarchy went to his niece Victoria.) Hope the Lord Mayor is reading this or perhaps someone could forward it to her?  Tarntanyangga is the place of the red kangaroo and is getting more currency over the years in its use in public signage. The space is now shaped in the Kaurna shield, and while one of the architects of the White Australia Policy Kingston hovers on the edge, I was overjoyed when the place was brimming at the seams during the #BlackLivesMatter rally in June 2020 and again in March 2021 for the #Justice4Women March knowing Kingston was not a fan of the original women’s suffrage bill. He was also the first federal member for Adelaide in the fledgling federation he helped to created.  I love these quirks of fate that turn up like an augmented fifth blues notes in an other wise predictable set of chords and scales. There are plenty of them all around us and soon as we start to tune in, its easy to hear them.

Perhaps there is potential for understanding white noise as random signals of colonialism, distracting us for seeing and hearing what it might be trying to cover up? In recording, white noise is often defined as a hissing sound, which also seems like an apt metaphor, the hissing of those who must be heard over the quiet and invisible vectors lying underneath.

Meeting these moments with a full and open heart, ears to hear all the voices and being able to make harmony from notes put together by a leader looking for the sweetest sounds is needed for these times. There is no choir director in the House, and few who are singing from the same hymn sheet of anyone seeing justice. There is a lot of static and reverb, and there are only a few in tune with what song the nation is singing right now. The sopranos have shown up, there are a few tenors and altos as well, looking forward to a few more basses joining in the chorus soon.

White noise hides

What must be heard

Tone deaf excuses

Blind eyes turned.

No longer silent.

No longer invisible.

Sobbing from graves.

Keening in corridors.

Cries from

Megaphones and microphones,

Enough is enough.

The choir is assembled,

As a jury in session

Waiting impatiently for the judge to arrive.

A leader surely on the horizon?

Chords are coming

Call and response

Ready to manifest

When the ballot box comes.

Photo by Mark Paton on Unsplash