Last week I posted about the THRU YOU project and the delicacies of it’s youtube mash-ups. Well today I discovered a similar amazing project called “Playing For Change” produced by two film-makers (Mark Johnson and Jonathan Walls) who traveled the world during many years with loads of audio equipment in search for little-known talented buskers. Mark and Jon’s idea was to record street musicians from all around the planet playing a single track of a song, and then mixing all the tracks together to obtain a fully produced version of the song.
The result is truly amazing:
This song, called ‘Don’t Worry’, was written by Pierre Minetti (the French guy you see at the beginning of the video) and performed by at least 20 musicians from India, Spain, France, Congo, South Africa, the USA and the Netherlands.
Here’s a beautiful cover of Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’ performed by 37 musicians from the Netherlands, Brazil, Spain and Russia, among other countries (8 millions views on YouTube since November).
Playing For Change isn’t only about the music. The whole concept is based on communicating a message of peace, harmony, and reunion. The idea behind ‘Playing For Change’ came to Mark Johnson when he saw 2 monks perform in the NY subway. Amazed by how the audience, a crowd of people who had never met before, was hypnotized and focused on the same music, Johnson started recording buskers in different US cities.
It occurred to me that here is a group of people that would normally run by each other, but instead, they’re coming together. And it’s the music that brought them together [...] The result (of Playing For Change) is a movement connecting the world through music. [...] Just thinking in my mind… what would be unique instruments to juxtapose against each other that had never been heard before: a talking drum and a tabla, they’re very similar but they never really come together, or a sitar and a dobro, very similar but how often do you hear them play together? The idea was to go to places that would have some sort of instruments that they could add to the spectrum of the global music that we were trying to find.
Playing for Change created a foundation that actively engages in humanitarian projects. They are currently working on building a music school in Gugulethu, South Africa as an alternative to the violence the residents face daily, along with an online platform to help promotes its future student’s music. The PFC foundation is also rebuilding Tibetan refugee centers as well as an arts center near Johannesburg.
Whats more. PFC project is releasing a CD/DVD package and documentary called “Peace Through Music” in April 2009 through Hear Music (Starbuck’s music venture). The film includes Bob Marley’s “War/No More Trouble” featuring U2′s Bono, and “One Love” played by 35 musicians accompanied by Manu Chao amongst other songs. (“Peace Through Music” is PFC’s second movie: their previous film, titled “Plating For Change: A Cinematic Discovery Of Street Music” was released in 2005, and is currently available through Netflix).
You can pre-order the packages on PFC’s website here, and also buy “Stand By Me” and “Son’t Worry” on iTunes.
PFC is also organizing gigs as well as planning an international tour with some of the musicians from the films (they even played at SXSW last week). They call upon the help of volunteers, musicians and donations to grow their community with hopes to spread joy, enlightenment and peace throughout the planet.
We live in very exciting times maybe, but they are equally as cynical. The sentence above is easily perceived as an overly-optimistic and puerile vision of today’s world, yet it fully corresponds to Playing For Change’s tone and ambitions. Such positivism is something we seldom come by these days… The quality of their concept, the sheer amount of work and risk injected into the project and the activities of their foundation really makes me want to believe every word of it.