Rock ‘n’ Rolling with Software: Our Critical Music
September 3, 2020
Music soothes the soul. It’s also a big part of Critical’s culture. Take a rollercoaster rock ‘n’ roll journey with our three bands.
Music. The science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition which achieves unity and continuity.
You may be wondering what music has to do with a software company. Well, admittedly, the technical relationship is rather tenuous. Yet music has always been part of human life and it’s proven to have many benefits, for both mind and body. At Critical, we’ve always strived to provide our colleagues with the best workplace environments possible and to strengthen the bonds between people. Music is one way we’ve found that accomplishes just that.
The first note
People visiting our office in Coimbra for the first time are surprised to see many musical instruments in the entrance lobby. Keyboard, drums, guitar, and the rest!
Our love affair with music at Critical started four years ago. A group of talented musicians would meet two days a week during their lunch breaks to enjoy some improvised jam sessions. And anyone could join in as long as there were instruments available! This idea came from our first band, “Estado Crítico”, and it was the first step towards the formation of new bands, having more fun, and building stronger bonds.
“People enjoy getting together to play and listen to music. Many people wouldn’t have met each other and wouldn’t socialise if it weren’t for the band (both musicians and spectators). We perform with the goal of having a good time with our colleagues, vibe with others, receive new ideas, and they’re more than welcome to come and play with us!” – Estado Crítico, Coimbra
The benefits are unquestionable. It reduces stress, boosts happiness and motivation, and strengthens the overall sense of belonging and pride. Music brings people together; by playing music in a common area, you’re naturally providing people with a shared experience. One that can be used to start friendships, build a better team, etc.
Although it all started in Coimbra, other offices are now playing to the same beat.
Meet our bands
We currently have three bands in three of our Portugal offices: Estado Crítico in Coimbra, Critical Bit in Porto, and Critical Sound in Lisbon.
Our first band, Estado Crítico, was founded in 2016: “It was on Critical’s 18th anniversary. The party needed music, so we got together to make it happen. Eventually, things got serious enough for us to officialise the band - and here we are!”
The other two bands, Critical Bit and Critical Sound, are slightly more recent creations:
“It came about in a casual conversation during the inauguration of our new office in Lisbon, in 2019. We tried a few instruments and decided to go for it. We managed to recruit some more people through Skype on our Lisbon chat and thus Critical Sound was born.” – Critical Sound, Lisbon
“We formed our band at the end of 2019 during one of our lunch breaks. We started playing and singing for fun and realised that our mutual passion for music was worth a shot at forming an official band for our office in Porto.” – Critical Bit, Porto
The passion for music and how it allows people to connect with one another has given them the motivation to continue with their musical activities.
“Music allows you to free your spirit. It stimulates creativity and strengthens the sense of connection among people. And it’s also great to see the joy it brings to people who aren’t part of our company as well – for example, our security guard at the office is always happy to hear us!” – Critical Sound, Lisbon
“Sharing your passion with others brings a kind of gratification that you rarely find anywhere else. It lets us relax and improve our team spirit by bringing us closer together. After all, we are stronger together, as is clear in one of our values!” – Critical Bit, Porto
However, being part of a band requires commitment from our talented colleagues. And who would have known that we had so many talented musicians among us…
“We’ve had different band members throughout the years. We’re not sure for how long the current members have been part of the band and even that can change sometimes. It depends on members’ availability and even the context of the event we have to perform at. When it comes to rehearsals, we try to do them outside of work hours in the office, which demands a huge effort from all of us. For events, we sit down to talk about it and decide who will play which instrument, put our repertoire together, decide when and where to rehearse, and how many beers to buy! We’re looking forward to being able to do that again once the coronavirus is taken care of.” – Estado Crítico, Coimbra
“We’ve got three people singing, three on guitar, one on the keyboard, one on the drums, one on the bass, and one on the clarinet. We come up with the songs to play depending on how “playable” and “singable” they are. It’s important that everyone agrees and enjoys the songs as well, but it’s important to mention that we’re still searching for our own identity right now. We usually rehearse twice a week at the office, whenever it’s possible, and we’ll usually have dinner together afterwards. The pandemic has complicated things a bit, but we’re trying to get back together gradually.” – Critical Sound, Lisbon
“We rock the singing, keyboard, cajón, guitar and bass. Rehearsals used to happen weekly at our office in Porto, but the pandemic put things on hold. We pick the songs beforehand and adapt them to our style as much as possible, then we rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!” – Critical Bit, Porto
Rehearsing is key when it comes to preparing for the events our bands perform at, and we’re not only talking about internal celebrations. Critical Bit hasn’t had their debut yet, but Estado Crítico and Critical Sound will perform at the Brands Like Bands festival this year.
“We’ve been participating in Brands Like Bands every year since 2017. It’s a social event that fills us with pride as we take Critical Software’s name onto a new stage in the world. We’ve also been part of TV shows, like RTP’s Fabrico Nacional. Apart from that, we love to perform at our own events, like Critical’s Christmas parties, anniversaries, and other internal events like Kids’ Day or Family Day, as well as office inaugurations and the like…” – Estado Crítico, Coimbra
“They’ve been around for much longer, so don’t judge us for not having such a neat event history! We’ve performed at a recent Kids’ Day for all the children and their families. Our first official concert was at the Christmas dinner in 2019, and our second concert was our presentation to the Management Board.” – Critical Sound, Lisbon
Keep the music rolling
We don’t need to be part of a band to experience the passion for music which permeates Critical. Some of our offices now have musical instruments or rooms where people can relieve their restless fingers with a jam, practise their own music, teach it to someone else, or learn new tunes for themselves.
It wasn’t uncommon to hear music when walking into our offices or to see someone play an instrument before the pandemic happened. The love for music is another way for us to come together and celebrate our community. And we’re sure it’ll be just the same once these uncertain times have passed.