Accepted Paper:

"The community is a family and the choir is the glue": music and belonging in Gaiman  

Author:

Lucy Trotter (London School of Economics)

Paper short abstract:

This paper draws on long-term ethnographic research with a Welsh community living in Gaiman, a village in the Chubut province of Argentina to explore the role of music in creation and consolidation of social relationships.

Paper long abstract:

This paper draws on long-term ethnographic research with a Welsh community living in Gaiman, a village in the Chubut province of Argentina to explore the role of music in creation and consolidation of social relationships. It argues that whilst sheet music alone cannot create feelings of belonging, we should not deny that sheet music is created with intentionality, in social and political contexts. This has further pertinence in a context in which the composers and those who write the lyrics live and work within the community. Structure and lyrics are important and they do help in some way; the positive and harmonious portrayal of social relationships in music, especially of the relations between Wales and Patagonia provides at the very least a platform for these types of sentiments. It combines a structural analysis of music with an ethnographic exploration of music and belonging from participant observation in Gaiman music school (more specifically in mixed choir rehearsals), hymn singing sessions, musical interactions of outsiders with their community and music as therapy. Across these varied situations, the fundamental message remains the same in its association of music with positive qualities, be this bringing people together, invoking feelings of happiness, or healing the mind to create a 'better' self. Theoretically, in its acknowledgement of the power of music, it argues against the visual bias in subjectivity studies in its argument that audial medias can too 'create' social relationships and subjects.

Panel P059
"Culture in Action": Between Performance and Ethnography