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The Story of 'Pacha Mama'




(from the INSIGHTS album released in 2022)

The idea of writing this song in Spanish originated with its title. Pacha Mama. Peruvian Dominican Theologian Sister Mila Diaz Solano explains:

Pachamama is not a goddess or an idol. It expresses a relationship. Pachamama outside of any indigenous religion is a Quechua expression rooted in two words - PACHA which means Earth, and Mama which means Mother.

I had written the original lyric in English, but it didn’t seem to sing or flow in a way that felt right. At the time, I was doing a year of Spanish at an Adult Ed class. My teacher was Spanish and living in England. When the course ended and I had written the lyric in Spanish, I went to visit her to check through my translation. She was a good choice because not only was she Spanish, but also a pianist. That meant she could judge whether what I had written, and the emphases I had on certain words worked in their musical context. I was very happy when she gave it all her seal of approval.

The words are all coming from the voice of Mother Earth. She is expressing her feelings for the children who inhabit her, asking them to see her heart and see the depth of love that she has for them by providing them a home:

‘Mira mi corazon

Una eternidad

Dificil es pedir mi amor’

And then she describes herself to her children so they realise that in fact she is a living, breathing entity (Eng. translation):

“The sea is my shawl

The forest is my skirt

My wavy hair are the rivers and waterfalls”

She speaks many times of the ‘opportunities’ that we have to do the right thing:

“It is with a clear mind

That I give to all (my) children

So many opportunities...’

It’s Love right there. She is not passive, but actively sustaining our lives on earth.

When Pete and I met, we realised that one of the things we always did as musicians was to create our own original music. This is in fact what the end game of the Creative Process is all about. The ability to create something original - to birth something new into the world thus adding to the rich and diverse differences that already exist. Repetition of things that have past in perpetuity is jaded and ultimately creates a crystallised stagnation. But to birth something new is to bring something fresh and alive into existence. This is easily seen in the reaction towards a newborn baby, the ultimate symbol of new life.

The creation of new music, the putting together of notes, melodies, chords and parts is one of the great joys of the process of songwriting. And this song is certainly not short of musical ideas!

I was able to create my own salsa piano lines (without having played any salsa-style piano before). I found this immensely enjoyable. I also loved the 7/8 rhythm of the chorus, the modulations, the dynamism of the song in general.

But the best part for us both was the blast we had working and playing what we called The Party Section at the end of the song. This was the Mother Earth, after expressing her heartfelt sentiments, saying to her children, ‘Come on, now - let’s have a Celebration and celebrate what we share together!’

And nothing says ‘party’ or ‘celebration’ or ‘unity’ or ‘friendship’ like a chant. Everyone joining hands, dancing together in celebration of the blessing of the life we have each been given on earth, and having a great melody to chant in unison!

That is the gift of Pacha Mama - who keeps on giving, and will continue to do so until we finally wake up and smell the roses.

Check out our video where Yas talks about Pacha Mama

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