Science songster interview #3: RB Morris

Continuing with our survey of participants in the NIMBioS Songwriter-in-Residence program, here’s what RB Morris had to say.

SAS&M: DESCRIBE YOUR CURRENT WORK AS A SONGWRITER/MUSICIAN IN A SENTENCE.

RBM: Armed with an acoustic guitar I eek out a livelihood performing the songs I write.

SAS&M: TO WHAT EXTENT HAVE SCIENCE AND MATH BEEN IMPORTANT IN YOUR LIFE?

RBM: Too broad a question to truly answer since science and math play into our lives in so many ways. But other than the residency with NIMBioS math and science have never been a part of my professional life.

SAS&M: WHAT FIRST PROMPTED YOU TO THINK THAT COMBINING SCIENCE/MATH AND MUSIC MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA?

RBM: The fact that I was offered a residency to do so. However, I have always felt that combining disciplines or comparative studies is a productive endeavor and in the genral direction of all ‘education’.

SAS&M: WHAT SPECIAL CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES ARE THERE IN WRITING SCIENCE- AND MATH-BASED SONGS, AS OPPOSED TO WRITING, SAY, LOVE SONGS?

RBM: Writing about science and math generally deals more with facts than emotions. But having said that, a writer can certainly approach the subjects of science and math from an emotional perspective. If you take a broad enough view all these subjects have the same requirements to be used as a theme for a song.

SAS&M: HOW DID YOU SPEND YOUR TIME AS A NIMBIOS SONGWRITER IN RESIDENCE?

RBM: By being present among the scientists, talking to them about their work, learning their passion and commitment to their work, and absorbing information from them on their fields of study. Then trying to find the songs that could come from this.

SAS&M: WHAT WILL YOU REMEMBER MOST VIVIDLY FROM YOUR TIME AS A NIMBIOS SONGWRITER IN RESIDENCE?

RBM: The people themselves and getting to know them.

SAS&M: DO YOU FEEL PARTICULARLY PROUD OF ANY PARTICULAR SCIENCE/MATH SONG(S) THAT YOU’VE WRITTEN? WHY?

RBM: I feel good about the song I wrote called ‘Science for the People’. I felt like I was able to approach the subject of ‘science’ and its broad use in our modern culture from a layman’s point of view, from one who depends so much on science and various technologies for his every day existence while understanding little about them. In this way I hope to reveal to the genral public how important science and scientists are in our life.

SAS&M: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SCIENCE/MATH MUSICAL PIECE OR ARTIST, NOT INCLUDING YOUR OWN WORK? WHY?

RBM: There was a book I read some years back called ‘Godel Escher Bach’ [by Douglas Hofstadter] that myself and other artists friends passed around a lot and used as a reference. I was greatly impressed and informed by the book because of its comparative study of science, music, and art.

SAS&M: SOME PEOPLE THINK THAT MUSIC CAN BE A VALUABLE TEACHING TOOL, WHILE OTHERS FIND SUCH NOTIONS LAUGHABLE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?

RBM: Music is obviously a powerful tool for teaching and inspiring people. I have taken note of studies where music is used to help children learn and retain knowledge.

SAS&M: ANY OTHER COMMENTS?

RBM: I think the recent trend to combine science and the arts in various studies and collaborations is essential for the growth of our society and humankind in general.

This entry was posted in interviews. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *