Though "poverty" is usually thought of as a lack of resources, there is really great wealth in it. That is, there is a great wealth of poverty. Also, netlabels, social media sites and other networking and sharing resources have allowed poor artists like me to distribute a great deal of music.
Of songs that deal with sounds or feelings of poverty, I have written literally hundreds, perhaps thousands. Most are, appropriately enough, available for free online to download or to stream.
I would suggest that sites like Archive.org make it possible to share in the bluesy reality of poverty by tapping into a gigantic body of material created by those in poverty and potentially to be enjoyed by them or by anyone interested, for free or at minimal expense.
Let's not think about what we don't have-- let's think about what we have so much of. Let's share, correspond, commiserate. Transcend.
Most digressions on sound from my life on food stamps were facilitated by myself. However, the "Particular Streams Remixes" series, of which I just released the third part, ask other artists to step in-- to take the sounds I collected over those years and to remix them.
A general reaction to these sounds is that people seem to like working with them. The am radio drone, the hammer hitting the bedpost, the shouts of the neighbor kids as they played on the concrete slab out back. These sounds seem very generative. Due to texture, percussion, and lack of tuning, they are very easy to combine with one another, and I was pleased and impressed with the results of "Particular Streams Remixes 3".
It's a bit like asking people to come and visit one's apartment, and to re-decorate:
"The Music Of Poverty" Part 5-- Recently I have been sharing some of my sound works from my years as a bachelor at a South Saint Louis Apartment.
Over the weekend, I went back to those sounds, and created a new work. While older works emphasize depression, isolation, and dismal living conditions, for this new work I tried to add energy and movement,
One technique I used was to take metal banging sounds I had recorded and to use them as driving percussion elements. I also used more ambient sounds (like a grainy drone I recorded from a radio) by digitally processing them until they sounded more textured and attenuated.
"Industrial Disctrict" is the old music from Brannon and Chippewa hyperdriven-- re-visited and re-purposed into something more active.
You can preview the piece, and order the entire album it is part of ("Morning City"), here:
Perhaps the most extensive phonographic essay on my barely functioning apartment back at Brannon and Chippewa is "Cavern Of Tile". This longform piece was composed using glurp (or "water") sounds harvested exclusively from this location.
It's interesting that many who should most conserve water are stuck in situations where toilets always run, and faucets always drip. The main sound in this piece was created from a mechanical failure-- my espresso machine began to malfunction, and I recorded the resulting sound of water and steam escaping.
Those with enviromental proclivities may be upset to hear about all of that waste. I can only attest that, when life gets bad enough, concerns such as the environment tend to fall by the wayside. For example, a person who needs a car but can hardly afford one would probably not obtain a hybrid or electric car (until these become more affordable).
Listening to this piece reminds me of the cold nights, space heater barely reaching my bed, when I would huddle under my comforter and listen to my toilet and shower having a perpetual conversation done in watery tones.
Times have improved for me, having found a wife and better employment. But I won't forget my 10 years at Brannon and Chippewa.
One main reason is because I have such a rich audio chronicle of those years. Phonography was a good choice at that locale. I was able to compose complete pieces using only lightly processed apartment sounds.
The espresso machine created a textured drone. The sink made a percussive flourish. Rusty nails in a can, ice cubes in a dirty glass-- all were made into instruments.
I discovered, strangely enough, that my old beat-up microwave sounded like a female choir when recorded (truth).
I composed my music for myself, and thousands listened. Between just "Nocturne" and "South City Spring", there were over 17,000 listens. Some perhaps were horrified, some could relate.
I played my music for the mice, who jumped like their feet were on fire when I tried to catch them with a popcorn bag. I played it for my neighbors, whose sounds were captured therein. And, I played it for thousands of others, many of whom I may never know.