Spatial Awareness While Worksonging

One of the biggest factors in making songs work in the field is the architecture of the space you’re worksonging in.

Here are some things to think about:

  • What are the noises around you? (this connects with the idea that music is organized sound) Are there trucks, airplanes, birds, tractors, irrigation?
  • Is it windy and will that carry the sound away from you?
  • Is there a building / space you could do this work in that would make it sound better?
  • Large open spaces take the sound and it floats away so you have to be louder.
  • What time of day is it? (Sounds carry better in the morning when it is calm and more humid)

Most people aren’t lucky enough to have the chance to choose where they’re singing, but if you are, consider these things.

If you aren’t, you might be able to choose whether or not you want to be worksonging at any particular moment. If so, choose:

  • early morning, late afternoon
  • smaller spaces and smaller fields 
  • calm days
  • quiet neighborhoods
  • barns, old churches, wooden spaces, echo-y spots
  • forests: the canopy of the trees bounce sound back at you

Probably the thing you have most control over is the types of projects you are doing, whether or not you are going to song while doing them, and what songs you are going to choose. One of the toughest things to do is to match the type of song to the work.

Close together vs. Far Apart

To simplify this challenge, I try to think about “close together work” and “close together songs” and “far-apart work” and “far-apart songs” and then match the songs to the work.

Close together work: - Shucking Garlic - Bunching and cleaning produce - Weeding - Teasing wool - Shelling beans and peas - Any high tunnel work - Planting - Hoeing multi-row crops - Harvesting small, tight crops like radishes in large amounts

Close together songs: - Tight rhythms - Harmony-rich - Call and Response - Complex lyrics or rhythms - Complex melodies

Far apart work: - Trellising - Harvesting most crops and anything in small quantities - Mulching - Hoeing single-row crops

Far Apart Songs: - Open rhythm - Simple melodies - Ballads (Long form, story songs, simple chorus or no chorus) - Field Hollers - Yodels and Yootzes