Accepted paper:

Speaking the rhythms of the past to life


Sarah Buckler (Robert Gordon University)

Paper short abstract:

Using material gathered over 8 years working in ex-mining villages in N E England I show how past aesthetics are embodied in places and people in a way which keeps them present, physical and experienced by residents yet unimagined and un-engaged by the discourses of policy makers and planners.

Paper long abstract:

Music has always been integral to the lives of those in the coalfields communities of north east England - the rhythms of brass bands and folk reels became embedded in the daily activities of those who worked there, giving expression to the tensions, conflicts and commonalities of a life balancing the demands of mines, mine owners, family and community. Two musical traditions weave their way through the lives of residents past and present; the formal and more rigid style of the brass bands along with a somewhat earnest moral tone and the playful, improvisational style of folk with its air of resistance, rebellion and community support. Today, alongside gradual erosion of mines and livelihoods, an industrial de-development, the music has faded into silence yet the rhythms remain, echoed in people's speech and their sense of being in the world. Contrasting aesthetics of conformity and resistance run through the talk of residents and play out in their lives in unanticipated ways but are not incorporated into the discourses of 'community development' which imagines a unified future. It is an ethnography of both presence and absence, music and silence, memory and experience.

panel P44
After development: critical aesthetics of past futures