Resonances - music of the past in the making of the future
Paper short abstract:
How much give does the past have in the making of a future?
Paper long abstract:
"We need to invite more people in." The urging voice of the rector marked the beginning of the parochial meeting where the future of the church was to be discussed. His deep concern was echoed by a member of the congregation whose contribution punctuated the tension of this 'traditional', middle-of-the-road parish church - "if we continue without making any changes, this church is going to die". In the context of declining numbers in 'traditional' Anglican churches ensuring a future means having to critically and creatively engage with the past. My paper draws on an ethnography of a traditional, middle-of-the-road parish church in London to explore how music both affords and limits the articulation of past, present and future. I illustrate that music style and practice in this church afford various dimensions of the past - tradition, collective memory and personal histories, to converge, thus shaping and cultivating particular affective resonances for established members of the church. At the same time, these affective resonances become problematic in the efforts to incorporate new members, so as to ensure a future for the church. By looking at discourses and practices of church music, I explore how the drive and necessity to promote change, while agreed upon by both church leadership and members, is in fact punctured by affective manifestations of the past. What kinds of future are then possible? How much give does the past have?
Time and tradition: theorising the temporalities in and of cultural production