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rpm challenge 2019

RPM Challenge 2019: New Horizons

Portsmouth Public Library
175 Parrott Ave.
Portsmouth, NH 03801
United States603-427-1540

Everyone is invited to make an album in a month when the 14th annual RPM Challenge kicks off Feb. 1, 2019.

This February, the annual RPM Challenge returns to the Seacoast for a month of music-making, connection, and celebration. New this year, the Portsmouth Public Library is co-hosting local RPM events to spark creativity, answer technical questions, and even help participants find the gear they need to make the album of their dreams.

RPM launched 14 years ago, and in that time, more than 80,000 songs have been created by tens of of thousands of musicians from all over the great orb of the world. Fourteen years is also how long it has taken NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft to pass through the great disc of our solar system, and both it and the musicians of RPM now stand poised to begin exploring the great unknown that lies beyond. We’ve all learned a lot along the way, but will it be enough to prepare us for the strange new discoveries in the deep space of our souls?

As the start date approaches on Feb. 1, musicians of Planet Earth are signing up at www.rpmchallenge.com to make an album, start to finish, in the month of February.

“If someone likes music and wants to learn how to write a song, record a campfire jam or whatever, the RPM team wants to help. You don’t even have to be a ‘musician’ to participate in the RPM Challenge. It’s just about making something new that is your own,” says Jonathan Blakeslee, musician and owner of White Heron Tea, and also an RPM Portsmouth participant and organizer. “Having personally participated in seven RPM Challenges, some of the most fun were those where I joined forces with people I didn’t even know that well. We often created some pretty cool music. In all cases, we had a blast!”

The idea began as a creative challenge to the Seacoast music scene – what if you made the commitment to record an album in 28 days, just because you can? That’s 10 songs or 35 minutes of original material, written and recorded during the month of February. To date, the RPM Challenge has resulted in the creation of an astonishing 80,000+ new songs from around the world. The music spans every genre—from electronic to experimental, from hip hop to heavy metal—and represents the work of all types of musicians: aspiring youth, longtime local bands, hobbyists, students, and closet musicians.

The programs at Portsmouth Library are designed to stoke the creative fires of February. Learn more online at www.cityofportsmouth.com/library/news/rpmchallenge.

  • The Craft of Songwriting: Songwriter, performer and musical educator Scarlet Keys will be at the library to talk about her new book, “The Craft of Songwriting: Music, Meaning and Emotion” on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. and welcome questions from novice and experienced RPM musicians.

  • Gear Up! An RPM Kick-off Afternoon, will feature a gear swap, recording engineers to answer technical, questions answered by long-time RPM participants, and resources available from the library. The whole community is welcome for shopping, browsing and conversation. The event will take place on Sunday, Jan. 27, from 2-4 p.m.

  • Lyrics Workshop with Guy Capecelatro III will help you find new ways of generating songs without waiting for inspiration to show up in the room. There will be prompts, and time to put pen to paper, on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m.

  • Drop-in Art: Make Your Album Cover: Look through tons of inspiration, then use drawing and collage materials provided by the library to create your very own album cover. A scanner will be available so you can make your art digital! Saturday, Feb. 16, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

The RPM community has become a vital part of the annual experience locally and globally, as musicians help each other to the finish line. With hundreds of musicians all working alongside each other, groups that might never come across each other in the regular world can meet, share ideas and collaborate through the site at rpmchallenge.com, bringing fresh perspectives and new insight into their own music. Personal connections made during the event have endured long after February ends, giving musicians a group of like-minded people with whom to share their artistic life.

Over the years, the RPM Challenge has been covered on NPR’s All Things Considered, on music web sites like Pitchfork.com, and many U.S. and Canadian radio programs. It also remains a grassroots phenomenon, celebrating the power of homegrown music in local communities everywhere.

Every February, musicians are reminded that they could choose to hibernate, or they could choose to write a fistful of new material and get it recorded alongside other like-minded musicians from all genres and walks of life who will come together with a common goal: to set aside any obstacles to producing music for the month of February, and to find themselves on March 1 each holding in their hands a new CD of their own original work that they would not have made otherwise.

There is no fee to participate in the RPM Challenge, and signups are open throughout the month. For those who finish, the community will celebrate with an RPM Challenge Listening Party takeover of White Heron Tea on Saturday, March 9, from 5 to 8 p.m.

For more information, to see the participating bands, or to read the whole text of the challenge, go to rpmchallenge.com.

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