From 2003 to 2004, Pulse was a social action research music programme that used music to engage with vulnerable youths aged 14-18 and divert them from risk-based behaviour. Identifying issues surrounding ownership of social zones within East Oxford, the project aimed to help break boundaries between groups through collaboration and music creation. We worked with young people from a variety of at-risk backgrounds, including individuals excluded from school or placed on youth-offending teams, and from refugee or asylum-seeking backgrounds as well as culturally diverse youth.
The programme was delivered in two phases, Pulse 1 presented a series of ongoing youth music programmes. Young people were encouraged to record, mix and then present sound-maps to their peers and their community. Four groups of young people worked over a number of weeks to record or sample music and sounds from their environment, layer and mix this in the studio, adding beats to the tracks. This music formed a map of their fears and frustrations, and then found positive ways of overcoming this to express their ‘sense of place’.
A CD of the sound-map tracks formed the centrepiece of a live event at the Zodiac in December 2002. Using club-style promotion designed by the participants, the final event at the Zodiac provided peer education to the audience as well as bringing positive messages to the wider community.
Pulse aimed to creatively empower the participants, encourage the development of new skills and improving their existing skills, while contributing to self-development and creative confidence.
Pulse also led to later programmes, Roots Up! and then Word Up!, seeing Fusion Arts offer music programmes for young people well in to 2012.