Outside my comfort zone

I haven’t been to very many rock concerts. It therefore came as rather a surprise to find myself at the Oasis concert in The Roundhouse last night, the final gig in the BBC Electric Proms . It was even more of a surprise that I was on stage, performing alongside Noel and Liam and the rest of the band. Well, I say “alongside” but actually I and the rest of the Crouch End Festival Chorus (CEFC ) were placed somewhat to the back of the stage. If you have good eyesight you can just spot me a few times on the BBC video . I’m the one in the middle row with the orange shirt and the shiny head. [Note – video only available for 7 days. It’s about an hour long. The last 5 minutes is the best].
I have to say that the Roundhouse looked magnificent. I kept wondering if I had somehow strayed into the Large Hadron Collider.

The music was rather different from Bach, Stravinsky, Elgar or Adams, CEFC’s usual territory. It was certainly outside my immediate comfort zone. The volume level was the most obvious difference. At times it was almost at the level that causes pain, but also created a physical exhilaration. The method of sound projection we used was also rather different from our usual technique. Instead of drawing ourselves up, summoning all the strength in our diaphragm muscles and resonating in all cavities with as much force as we could, we each had a personal microphone headset and had to trust in the sound mixing desk to ensure we could be heard at all. We could barely hear ourselves let alone our neighbour. Interestingly, the band said they said they were playing more quietly than they ever have before!
It was an exhilarating and memorable experience. Outside my comfort zone, but probably also outside the band’s comfort zone if truth be told. We and they learned something new about music, and shared our skills and experience to create something that neither could have managed alone.
I am a great believer in treading outside my comfort zone. This blog is living evidence of that – it can be scary to release a post into the NN community. I think that data curation is also outside my comfort zone, but it has a strange fascination perhaps because of that. Can I , and fellow librarians, find a means of projecting a librarian’s voice and perspective into the high volume rock and roll of data creators and data scientists? It depends whether they are ready to listen to our quieter voices, or find a means to feed us into the mix. And it depends on librarians’ readiness to walk onto that scary stage and start performing.

About Frank Norman

I am a librarian in a biomedical research institute. I've been around a few years, long enough to know that exciting new things fall into the same familiar patterns. I'm interested in navigating a path for libraries as we move further from print to electronic resources to open research, and become more embedded in research workflows.
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8 Responses to Outside my comfort zone

  1. Sara Fletcher says:

    That is very cool. I have been to many rock concerts and would love to have been at that one! Interesting to hear about it from a different angle (on the stage, no less!).

  2. Stephen Curry says:

    Love the metaphor Frank – scientists the new rock-stars. Now, let me see if I can sell it to my kids.
    Am nevertheless puzzled by the distinction between ‘data creators’ and ‘data scientists’. Do the former just make stuff up?

  3. Maxine Clarke says:

    I still haven’e been to any (rock concerts) – I have this idea that reading your post is a far better substitute than the actual events themselves 😉
    However last night I did find myself at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet, which I enjoyed – and the presence of David Tennant (a.k.a. Dr Who) as Hamlet was, possibly, fairly close to the rock-concert experience? 😉

  4. Matt Brown says:

    I wonder how many librarians can say they’ve shared a stage with Oasis. Incidentally, I live across the road from the Roundhouse, but have never been to a concert there for some reason. Did you get to see the bowels of the building? The old turnstile room beneath the auditorium is impressive.

  5. Frank Norman says:

    Maxine – If David Tennant was using some Whovian device to amplify his voice to painful levels, then it might have been a bit the same. Or if there were extreme levels of security at the theatre (ticket holders required photo ID to get in).
    Matt – Our dressing room was below and I did go along to The Hub, which is I think was the old turntable room. It was spooky – and very easy to get lost there as all corridors leading off it look the same.

  6. Frank Norman says:

    Stephen – See my previous post for more explanation about the data stuff. It comes from a new JISC report on the subject; they have identified four categories of people who do stuff with data.

  7. Maxine Clarke says:

    The only “security” was that the RSC sent everyone (well, me anyway) an email before the production specifying that photography or any form of recording was not allowed. This was clearly because DT was in the cast, but being very politically correct and anti-star system (all cast lists in strict alphabetical order, etc – very hard on Ephraim Zimblast Jr) the email mentioned no names.
    At the end, some entrprising young ladies in the audience threw red roses at him (DT). He put one in his teeth and presented the other to Gertrude (the remainder fell short). Pretty matinee-idolish, though I am sure nothing like as free-spirited as your experience.

  8. Sara Fletcher says:

    Just been watching this on the red button, I think I saw you a few times! looks jealous. Oasis are a band I first saw at the Newcastle Riverside with about 200 other people, seeing them now makes me feel very old!

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