The planet of instruments


How do we become our own sound/sonic experts?

How does the Moon Arkestra combine care work, interdisciplinary music & performance, decolonial and queer collective consciousness and play to whistleblow the Tour de Moon Convoy?

How have the Arkestra’s instruments become tools for radical truth-telling in its journey on the Tour de Moon Convoy?

 Project Description/Abstract

Instrument  (Merriam-Webster, 2022)


a device used to produce music

also : a singing voice


especially : one designed for precision work

a means whereby something is achieved, performed, or furthered

: one used by another as a means or aid :

In this project, Vee seeks to uncover the Moon Arkestra’s capacity for radical truth-telling through the instruments its members embody and play. “What’s your instrument?” highlights how each respective member of the Moon Arkestra has created new gateways for becoming sonic experts.


The Arkestra’s instruments  act  as communication channels for the expression of identity, personhood, cultural memory, political action, a care ethic as well as music’s relationship to whistleblowing. 

This project is interested in exploring how we reckon with our truth-telling powers; how we understand our resourcefulness, our limitations, our singularity within a collective setting, and our varied relationship(s) to the power structures we find ourselves confronting. 

For the project, each Arkestra member was asked to reflect on what they consider their instrument(s) to be, what they feel they can communicate through their instruments and how they were able to actualise new relationships to their instruments in the space of the Arkestra.

The responses are translated onto a map, tracing Arkestra’s sonic journey. Alongside the Arkestra’s responses, the project also taps into the vast archive of sounds, audio, text and visuals recorded during the Tour de Moon Convoy.


Eeshar (Newcastle, 2022)

“I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had the santoor […] Essentially, it’s become my identity. If people know me longer than 5 minutes, they’ll know that I play an instrument called the santoor. It’s how I find meaning in being here […] The santoor is like a tool for me to find that meaning, my place on this planet”

Fraz (Southampton, 2022)

“As a composer, I often think about the audience as an instrument. I think that a lot of composing is not only inviting instrumentalists and musicians to create sound but inviting an audience to listen to that sound […] and perform the music inside their head.”

Christopher (Southampton, 2022)

“It’s okay to feel pain. Most of what I’m saying is, at least so far…what I’ve been writing about is the acceptance of the subtle pains we feel [..] and making peace with these pains.”

Kingali (Southampton, 2022)

“I just get on the feelings. I just feel the surroundings […] What I feel with the instruments around me is speech and rhythm […] I’m also an instrument, I can be that power for you”

Samar (Hackney, 2022)

“I feel like my instrument is my voice, my body, the bass, different electronic instruments. I also really enjoy picking things up and seeing how they can become instruments, producers of sound […] What inspires me is really building a practice with myself,  staying grounded or rooted in what I’m doing”

MayaLae (Hackney, 2022)

“My number one instrument is my voice. I’ve been recently exploring percussion as well. That feels very bodily, it feels a lot like dancing […] It just reminds me that music is what my body wants, what my body needs.”

Mango (Southampton, 2022)

“I think one of my favourite instruments is using Kapampangan, which is my family’s native language […] It’s another form of my consciousness and my brain. It’s such a rare language [..] so for me, in musical spaces, if I’m jamming with people or working on a song, I feel like Kapampangan is my favourite; it’s like archiving, keeping this language alive with the people around me.”

Zoe (London, 2022)

“My instruments are myself Zoe, my cello Chloe and my bow, Bowie. We are inseparable, even though sometimes, I chose to express myself without Bowie and just with myself and Chloe. This looks like knocking on the hollow body of the cello. It involves plucking or making noises through other means – without the boe – which is how the cello was originally designed to be played. “



What does it mean to actively listen? For me, it’s about the way we attune ourselves to the everyday; the way we sync with the vibrations of our body, of old and new relationships becoming; and how we process that moment that is the present. 

For the Moon Arkestra, it was really important that we listened. During our online lectures, our rehearsals and performances, we were always listening. During our sound checks, we were trained to hear our sound and understand its energy. According to Tina Campt (2017), to look and to watch is to perceive at only one sensory level. In her practice of listening to images, she finds ways of tuning into sonic frequencies of affect that assemble ways of seeing, of feeling, of being affected and being moved (Campt, 2017). Opening our ears was how the Moon Arkestra encountered each other – how it embedded care, time and reciprocity in its collective movement. For our music, listening helped explore the liberating power of a song, a track, an ensemble; of words feeling a page, of instruments colliding, of movement and improvisation building with shakers, strings and horns, bass guitar and drum, a hum, a rhythm, voices, chaos pads and loop pedals there together.


Before joining the Tour de Moon Convoy, I was really curious about improvised performance in music. What does it feel like? How do people enter into dialogue with each other’s artistic expression and what’s at stake when you surrender to change? 

Ajay Heble (2010) describes improvisation “as a trenchant model for new forms of social mobilization that accent agency, collaboration and difference”. In their reflection on improvisation, Heble looks up to Sun Ra, Astro-Black philosopher, composer and improvising artist (Heble, 2010). Sun Ra has definitely been a key reference in the Moon Arkestra’s journey. For Heble, Sun Ra’s improvising practice – his search for “Somewhere there”  that refuses oppression and being subject to state and institutionalised violence – embodies a manifestation of the possible. 

I believe that the Moon Arkestra’s improvising practice is a form of whistleblowing. The Arkestra moves away from the assumed and the scripted.  We weren’t interested in feeding dominant narratives about music and its production. We didn’t join the Arkestra to make “quality” or palatable music. We weren’t interested in playing within specific genres. In fact, our critical engagement had us refuse those boundaries and borders around music.

Our music &  improvised  performances incorporated all forms of expression and instruments available to us, honouring the various musical and rhythmic traditions we found ourselves respectively rooted in. Our improvising practice was grounded in our knowledge, curiosity, playfulness and discipline. Our improvising practice was an act of care. We showed love for each others’ learning and educational experience; we showed up for each other during our performances; we showed strength and support in times of vivid uncertainty. In my experience, I was able to express the possible without fear of the unknown. I wrote on improvisation because I wanted to be « there » in the dialogue and changes I was experiencing throughout Tour de Moon. In these ways, improvisation was a guiding force for unlocking the Moon Arkestra’s truth-telling consciousness, in our journey for collective-building and radical-music making.


Mapping the Moon Arkestra’s sonic journey is a way to remember, honour and learn from our travels on the Tour de Moon convoy. For many of us, this was quite a unique experience. Therefore it was important to record what happened, the moments that marked us and what’s changed in and around us. I used my zoom recorder and my phone to record the Moon Arkestra’s gatherings/discussions, rehearsals and live performances. I thought it was the best way to document the Arkestra’s practice(s) with instruments and how we become experts in our sound. Loads more has been recorded through video, photography and writing.

This map is an archive. Archiving has me concerned with how I remember the things and events that are relegated to the past, how we enable matters in History to speak as they live continuously in our lives – how we live in remembrance of our past lives (Echoing beti, 2020). This map is a way to live in the afterlife of Tour de Moon – to stay connected, to check in with ourselves, to enjoy our learnings and continue imagining possibilities for myself and others in this experience. This map is not static – as time passes, as circumstances change once again, this map will take new shapes in our consciousness.

Moon Arkestra Sonic Journey 

Just improvise, claim yourself (Tour de Moon, 2022)

Words by Vee, Samar, Lae, Mango (Untitled)


The future is always with us.

It is never dying

With each trying breath

Horizons be, multiplying

I see you, looking at me, looking back at you

And time ain’t lost on us loving

We’re in our future already alive, living and resting



Remembering what ease can be

Floating down everchanging flows

Trusting in the unknown 

Finding ways to hold each other close

Speaking without words

Feeling the infinite divinity of the stars

Our blood and bones find solace



Flesh on flesh on flesh

We multiply to fight the division

Swelling with the rage

And back again

To home

To be – with home



If we used our blood as holy water 

And our spit as glue,

And our limbs as bridges

Would you cross with us to a new world?

If we do not know,

We make poetry

In the winks signalling

Our hearts to pulse

In the hugs that press your lungs

And our lungs together

Colliding, cleansing toxins 

Rise and fall on me

Lay your brain on my limbs

Place the map of your grief

Traced on your palms in mine

So we can navigate a way out together                        


  •  Performed in Newcastle 29th May 2022



Abdurraqib, H. (2019)The Paths of Rhythm. In: Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest. University of Texas Press, pp.3-13.

Burin, Yula and Ahaiwe Sowinski, Ego (2014) sister to sister: developing a black British feminist archival consciousness. Feminist Review, No. 108, black british feminisms (2014), pp. 112-119 

Butler, Octavia (1993) Parable of the Sower. 1st ed. New York: Warner Books.

Campt, T. (2017). Listening to images. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Heble, Ajay (2010) “Why Can’t We Go Somewhere There?”: Sun Ra,

Improvisation, and the Imagination of Future Possibilities. Canadian Theatre Review, Volume 143, pp. 98-100 

The Barnard Zine Library (2021) Natural Rhythms: Sound, Zines, and Documenting a Journey with Listening. Online workshop facilitated by Nicole Misha (April 7th 2021)