Ghost Notes

The untold stories & rhythms of the Underground Railroad

“Standing, sitting, leaning forward, not like Jarrett whose hands never leave the keyboard, but rather attacking the keys from a distance, from high above, as only Thelonious Monk could do. The notes he played must have weighed over two hundred pounds! Bang! Bang! Or sometimes they weighed only a few ounces and were so faint that the transcribers refer to them as ‘ghost notes’ — phantom notes that come to haunt the keyboard from time to time.”

Ghost Notes

The untold stories & rhythms of the Underground Railroad

“Standing, sitting, leaning forward, not like Jarrett whose hands never leave the keyboard, but rather attacking the keys from a distance, from high above, as only Thelonious Monk could do. The notes he played must have weighed over two hundred pounds! Bang! Bang! Or sometimes they weighed only a few ounces and were so faint that the transcribers refer to them as ‘ghost notes’ — phantom notes that come to haunt the keyboard from time to time.”

Ghost Notes Series Overview

The Ghost Notes Series cultivates community through multicultural arts experiences that explore the unsung people, places, and events of the Underground Railroad. Our events and workshops are inspired by New Orleans’ style second line brass band parades, in which people moving differently together to a common rhythm have fun, let go, overcome barriers, and unite in new ways. Brass bands in America were ubiquitous at the turn of the 19th century and helped bridge African Diasporic culture across fluid borders, memory and time.

Our team facilitates second line parades in areas important to the history of the Underground Railroad, pairing a visiting brass band with a local group to honor a historic figure of the Underground Railroad along with a contemporary figure who is carrying on the Fight for Freedom. We work with local institutions to plan the events and parade-centric workshops to develop programs that are rooted in place and allow for community to express self and story through various artistic modalities. The works generated from the parades and workshop series become a part of our digital and physical exhibitions. In our twenty years documenting the parades of the African Diaspora we’ve found art created and shared by the people for the people in the streets galvanizes minds and shifts paradigms – we’ve witnessed communities coming together through inclusive education, focused engagement and shared creative energy. The Ghost Notes Series harnesses this energy into a kaleidoscope of living art, activating participant reflection, innovation, and pathways to positive change.

Black Canadians celebrate emancipation day in Amherstburg, Ontario in 1894. Photo by Andrew Merrilees/Library and Archives Canada.

Bust of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Black abolitionist, feminist, and publisher, by sculptor Artis Shreve Lane in the British Methodist Episcopal (BME) Freedom Park – Chatham, Ontario

Melodius Thunk Services / Ghost Notes Elements

1. Live Parade Production

Melodius Thunk brings the art of the Big Parade to your streets. Our parade expertise and connections to some of the best musicians from around the world allow us to produce transformative experiences.

2. Video Production

Through interviews, storytelling and action footage, Melodius Thunk produces video content highlighting the music culture of the event: rhythms, instruments, dances, parade pageantry and origins of the sound.

3. Audio Production

Melodius Thunk provides a video documentary and music soundscape recording of the Big Parade complete with podcast style interviews of musicians and participants, allowing them to tell their own stories in their own words.

4. Web & multimedia packages

Online presentation of content – websites & landing pages that integrate with partner / sponsor websites. These sites utilize our video, audio and written content to create immersive experiences, acting as cultural hubs and experiential educational tools. Our online presentation of content also offers powerful brand-association opportunities for partners, sponsors and benefactors.

5. Education & Workshops

Illustrated with interviews, stories, photographs, video and sound recordings from the sonic jewels of the world, Melodius Thunk founder Nelson Eubanks leads a discussion on how different global communities come together to celebrate, commiserate, protest, preserve and perpetuate their cultures through the movement and sounds of the world’s big parades. Our team facilitates experiential parade-centric workshops including Field Recording, Dance, Writing, Photography, Videography Community Art and Murals. These programs can be customize for all ages, including children, high school and college students.

Parade Stops: highlighting the unique flavors of cities and neighborhoods

Anonymous streets become vibrant theaters of moving art as the big parade rolls through. Around the world, the parade Stops are jubilant parties in their own right. The parade Stops last between 30-45 minutes before the parade moves onward. A standard Stop package provides a DJ, music, food and drinks which allow opportunities for local brick-and mortar sponsors, national partners and benefactors to embed into the experience.

Ghost Notes Series Street Art

The participatory art of the second line style parade harmonizes with the peoples’ street art. In music played in the streets for the people, by the people, murals and street art become an important backdrop that tells a visual story to accompany the sonic story. We can provide a mural artist who specializes in community-based mural projects and/or work with local mural groups to develop a mural rooted in the Ghost Notes parade event and local history.

About Melodius Thunk Productions

Melodius Thunk began before hurricane Katrina as a community project in the Crescent City by a small group of New Orleans artists hoping to record the Sunday Second Line Parades. Over the years we’ve grown as we’ve ventured round the world into other sonic communities filled with like-minded folks enamored by the exhilarating sounds of music in the street. In our collective travels we’ve found beauty and wonder follow vibrant sound through dance, costumes and stories, with each sonic event presenting an occasion to showcase the unusual and spectacular.


For more information contact
Nelson Eubanks:
sonido@melodiusthunkproductions.com

Work Samples

WEST PHILADELPHIA / DREXEL UNIVERSITY

In the fall of 2016, we partnered with Writers Room a community outreach program of Drexel University’s Dornsife Center for Community Partnerships. The NEA Big Read event centered around Zora Neale Hurston’s life and work, featuring talks by Zora Neale Huston scholar Dr. Cheryl Wall, flash-fiction writing, dance programs and field-recording workshops. To kick off this multi-week program, we produced a 2nd line parade featuring the West Powelton Drummers, a West Philly community drumline with 25+ years serving the community. The 2nd line went from a theater at Drexel, through the streets and ended at a community center where they performed alongside a college jazz band.  The short video we created captures the essence of the event that strived to close the ‘town-and-gown’ gap between the university and it’s neighboring community.

HISTORIC SOUNDS

The Down by The Riverside parade on November 26, 2005 was the first big 2nd line after the horrors of Hurricane Katrina. This soundscape features the Hot 8 Brass Band in the foreground and from time to time, at rests, at breaks, the To Be Continued Brass Band in the background. The track start with Black Men of Labor’s Fred Johnson giving homage to the fallen Mardi Gras Indians Big Chief of Chiefs, Allison Tootie Montana and a singing crowd trying to let go and be free all along the way.

Hot8 Brass Band

CONGA SHORTS

Melodius Thunk spent several months in Santiago de Cuba in a quest for the different mythical rhythms of the conga parades, conducting interviews, recording parades, and producing art shows with local conga groups.

See more of the Conga Series Here