Was musIcal

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Was musIcal

••• •Music-making in an English townRuth FinneganOpen Unillersilynw 'itlll f1/ ,/WUN-.r,,.,, of Ca ... bi/4tltJ "iN IIItd NilGil_uw, of booh-.. " .. tnib,H~, VIII ill /1JI.1Jw Viti_Sill ....... ,",,'"MIl pvbIWwd COfIIlrenlf .... fyJIM,/J&4.Cambridge University PressCambridgeNew York Port Chester Melboume Sydney


local musicA choir of local residents - men , women and ch·ld I ren - fil· e In speCI3 . Icostume on to the platform for their annual concert accompanied by visitingsoloIsts . and . an orchestra of local amateurs . A I·azz an d bl ues group p I ay [0enthus,astlc fans over Sunday lunchtime in the foyer of a local leisure centre.A brass band of players from their teens to their seventies thunder outChristmas carols beside the local shops, making a bright show as well asresounding harmony with their military-style uniforms and gleaming instruments,and one member rattling the collection box. An inexperienced butambitious band of teenagers set up their instruments in a pub for their firstgig, nervouS about performing in public but supported by friends sittinground the tables, and deeply enthusiastic about the new songs they havespent months working on. Or a part-time church organist extricates herselffrom her Other commitments to come again and yet again to provide themusical framework for anOther Saturday wedding or Sunday service.Most readers will have encountered at least some of these events - or ofthe many similar activities that take place in one form or another in Englishtowns today.' It is to such events and their background that this book isdevoted: grass-roots music-making as it is practised by amateur musicians ina local context.It IS of course widely accepted that musical activities of this kind are partof modern English culture. But the organisation behind them is seldomthought about or investigated. In fact we regularly take them so for grantedthat we fad to really see the unacclaimed WOtk put In by hundreds andthousand, of amattur musicians up and down the country. Yet i, i thISwork, 111 a )cmc IIw",ble, that upholds this 111 other ways well-knowndemcnr of our wllllral herit"11 0 .D. plte It f.llnrh,HltY there ,He rc"l '1ue,flllll' tu I-e in\c'tI~,ltcd .I-out· lll"r~ Wh It ex'llil .Ill'" II Cl>l,,"t ",, How" III oc.,a I mUlI)lC IU t h1\ ""J }' . '.d d I h"\rc fh,' kll,d, III ,'I cnh 1Il,'IlIIl>l,c,I"",hcr one-offu tame n 1) w on t -a Jlr or Ire t ere con c' 'ff h I , "" p ,'fern or • I'" lid,'''''' ,'rudurc mto whICh3


Introductorythe} (~II' Arc Ihey 1111 r U I or by no ..mu IClan ~ mar nal mmofll r Upuron 100 ») And .. h I, lIy, I thent I bod,' andImodern urhIh I I, I ulr(or the .. a) peapl nuru c nd m r"/drly, fOI OUI openr a uvrII WIll rmer r from lhe a ntamateur mu I Ian I not IU I haph I"hIm or C/ICUm\lan c On the ntl I}, I I tmg ItU IUle It behInd th UI C UVIIId nbed abo,r, nd alllhr othrr th I m Ihnr' rlOUa fe;uurr of modern II r, Ie p II o( an mv Ible bUI Ithlough '" hleh md" Idu I ma r thetr OnlllbUllon 10 bolh IhIhe conunum of En It h mu lodaymC'tlmI c pu IfCf,, teI~ndIlhm" of thl I of pra tl 0 'hIdden' m t .. o "'~,. nc I thalli h.heen so Illtle dlawn 10 our ttenllon b) tern u re I h 01 "111mrhere h.1 hern Imle "or m thl ountl) on Ihe 'ml ".. 1111 • (amateur and. In rcdlbl), qu lums lin tl\e mu I m km u h("' dl IInct from !tendance at profe lonal event or p til Ip lion m II IIgroup_ generallyl seldom or ne'er appear mOl I UI\e) aim t ItIULal mu ie-makmg did not eX I't at all. rhtl "(,Idemle and planne, _likeh, vc umchu,," found II ea ). to Igno,e omcthm '" hi him other "'.1>' (Iremarkably on"ou _Second and perhap even more ImpOrtant, the ) trm of 10..:,11 IIllhlemaking" parualt)' "rllrd not Just from uu""ler but .'ctl frulll theIn one en' e thqmU\lClam then"e"e. and the" '''pponer,. 0 1 courknow It wcll - Ihc~c arc lIot seael pr,'lIIL"" 11111 m .lIIother 11 ,,"etll' '0nalural and gIven IU thr partlCl pallts th.1t the .lre oiten unaW.lrt bllth or II'eX lent and of the 'truclUred ,,"ork. they thelll I'e Me plllllll!: 11110 '"\1,1111 -ms II. We alt know anout 11 - bllt LIII til 1lIIltce It fll' whal II IS .The purpose of t h" book, then, tS to IIl1cuver and rcHcLI on ,orne of the,clitde-q uestloned hut fundamental dImensIOn. of 10,,1 mu,te· makmg, andtheir place in both urhan Itfe and our cullural tradllio", more gene,ally.The example I focus on to illustrate Ihe.e themes tS the town of MIltonKeynes in Buckinghamshlre. Clearly thts town, Itke any other, has its ownunique qualities, described more fully ttl chapter 3 and, more indirectly,throughout the book. Suffice it ro say here that I am not claiming thatMilton Keynes is in every way representative of all modern English rownsclearlyit is not - bur that I am following one well·established tradition insocial and historical research, that of using specific case studies ro lead to thekind of illumination in depth not provided by more thinly spread andgeneralized accounts.' Having lived in the area for a dozen years or more Ihave been able ro draw on lengthy experience of local music practices as wellas on the more systematic observation I undertook in the early I9805,4


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Introductory'culture' as somehow less real than 'work' or 'society' - music can equal!well be seen as playing a central part not just in urban networks but als~more generally in the social structure and processes of our life today. It istrue that local music-making in the Sense of direct participation in performanceis the pursuit of a minority. But this minority turns out to he a moreserious and energetic one than is often imagined, whose musical practicesnot only involve a whole hosr of other people than just the performers, butalso have many implications for urban and national culture more generally.Given this importance, why has the existence and significance of theselocal musical practices been so little noriced? In addition to the difficulty ofexplicitly noticing the taken-for-granted conventions which invisibly structureOUf activities, reasons can be found in current and earlier approaches tothe study of music. These have often rested on assumptions which concealrather than illuminate the kind of evidence revealed in this research. Amongsuch assumptions challenged in this book, let me briefly highlight three.First, and perhaps most important, musicological analyses have beenconcerned either to establish what kinds of music (or music-making) are'best' or 'highest' - or, if not to establish them, then to assume implicitly thatthis is known already with the direction for one's gaze already laid down.This book accepts neither of these paths. Once one starts thinking not about'the best' but about what people actually do - about 'is' not 'ought' - then itbecomes evident that there are in fact several musics, not just one, and thatno one of them is self-evidently superior to the others. In Milton Keynes, asin so many other towns, there are several different musical worlds, oftenlittle understood by each other yet each having its own contrastingconventions about the proper modes of learning, transmission, compositionor performance. Because the pre-eminent position of classical music so oftengoes without saying, the existence of these differing musics has often simplybeen ignored.Or again - to look at the same problem but from a different viewpointthecommon social science emphasis on 'popular' or 'lower-class' activitieshas led to particular research concentrations. Rock (and sometimes brassband music) has been particularly picked out as if only it, and not classical'elite' music, Were somehow worth serious consideration. But what becamevery clear in this study is that each musical tradition - classical, rock, jazz orwhatever - can be studied in its own right. When no longer judged by thecriteria of others, each emerges as in principle equally authentic and equallyinfluential in shaping the practices of local music.This study, therefore - unlike most others - does nor concentrate on justone musical tradition but tries to consider all those important in the locality:an 'obvious' thing to do, of course - except that few scholars do it. Thuspart 2 presents several musical worlds in turn through both generalsummaries and short case studIes of particular groups and clubs - detailed6


The existence and study of local music,ethnographic description that forms th. e necessary fou d · fanalyses. Part 3 t hen pIcks out some of h . n anon or the later.ff . d t e contrastmg .both dl erennate an to some extent u · h . convennons whIchnlte t ese dIffer Idfor the more general reflections in parts a d 109 war s as a basisd· . f h . . 4 n 5·The IscusSlon a eac tradition is thus mevlta · . bl y q . hmight argue that I should instead have c d ulte s art, and Some. d oncentrare on underst d' .one war Id to epth. But despite its costs h· . an 109 Just. I d· h · t IS comparanve approa h .essentla to !Scover t e toteraction of trad· . . h c IS· h . Itlons 10 t e local area andprovIde t e perspective for a more detached v·e f h . d·ff '. . .. Th ' . I W 0 t elr I erences andslmllantles.· .e eXIstenceId .of thIs varied.and structuredmterp. Iay of dlffenng..and·toteractlngf'war S IS"somethtog that simply doesnot surface at aII .InstudIes ocussmg exclusIvely on Just a single tradition.To some it may . seem perverse '" to treat all these forms of mUSIC . as on a par.But I take the vIew that mUSIc IS neIther something self-evidently there in thenatural world nor fully ,define? in the musical practices of anyone group;rather what IS heard as mUSIC IS characterISed not by its formal propertiesbut by people's view of it, by the special frame drawn round particularforms of sound and their overt social enactment. Music is thus defined indifferent ways among different gtoUpS, each of whom have their ownconventions supported by existing practices and ideas about the right way inwhich music should be realised.' My own musical appreciations were ofcourse enlarged by this study (though I continue to have my own preferences),but as a researcher I consider the only valid approach is not to air myown ethnocentric evaluations as if they had universal validity but to treat themany different forms of music as equally worthy of study on their ownterms.I have thus quite deliberately not confined this study to classical music,. orindeed to so-called 'popular' music,' but have tried to give some descnptlonof the practice of music across the whole spectrum to be found In thelocality. It therefore covers music-making in the classical tradition, Jazz,brass bands, musical theatre, country and western, folk, pop and rock aswell as some of the more common contexts and institutions assoCIated wIth.. II If h· s to draw the book out tomuslc-maktog more genera y. t IS seem .. f. . I d . r fi d or 'obvious' descnpnons amordinate lengths and toC u e over-SImp I e h Id d. I d ember that eac war antraditions familiar to partlcu ar rea ers, rem . f h thd· hly creanve one - or t em eContext was to its participants a f u II. Ianbncomitted. f . f111 any alt account amost truly musical one, certato Y not to e will be unfamiliar with anylocal musics - and that at Icast some readers d· duct ion And. d ·ghtforwar 1I1tro .gIven tradition and will nee some stral. ·th others can (as Ilooking at one's 'own' in the setting of compansons WI .. . k f _granted conventions.dIscovered) throw new Itght on ta en- or . k· g and its underlyingf I al musIc-rna InA second reason why the extent a oc I · I nusual to concentratestructure has bcen little noticed is that it is re anve Y u7


Introductoryon the practice of music: on what people actually do on the ground. Ththere are of course many other valid and illuminating approaches to m . atd . h d' USle Io . not WIS to Ispute. But for the purposes of uncovering the localactivities, the standard analyses m terms of traditional musicological thor fh '~ry0 t e mtellectual content or texts of music cannot take us very far. Theseare the second set of assumptions, then, that I question in this study. M. I d' f OStmls ea mg 0 all in this context is the powerful definition of music in termsnot of performance but of finalised musical works. This is the more so whe. . nIt IS accompanied - as it so frequently is - with the implication that theseworks have some kind of asocial and continuing existence, almost as ifindependent of human performances or social processes, and that it is inmusical 'works' that one finds aesthetic value (see, for example, SparshottI980, p. 120). This is a view of music that may have some limited validity inthe classical tradition, but even there obscures the significance of its activerealisation by real human practitioners on the ground; and for many othermusical traditions it is altogether inappropriate for elucidating how music iscreated and transmitted. Such an approach would uncover few of theactivities described in this book.The concentration here, then, is on musical practices (what people do),not musical works (the 'texts' of music). This is admittedly partly due to myown inadequacies. I am unqualified to undertake the musicological analysisof musical texts either by training or from the kind of data I collected, andshould therefore make clear that this study is not intended as a work ofmusicology - or at any rate not musicology in the commonly used formalistsense of the term (see, for instance, Treitler's useful critique in Holoman andPalisca I982). More positively significant for the approach of this study,however, I discovered that looking closely at people's actions really was aroute to discovering a local system that, even to me, was quite unexpected inits complexity and richness.Looking at practice rather than formalised texts or mental structures, atprocesses rather than products, at informal grass-roots activities rather thanformal strucrure has always been one strand in social science research(perhaps particularly in anthropology); sometimes too in the humanities.Recently this emphasis has come more to the fore m a number of areas, atrend with which I would wish to associate my own work.·o ThiS kmd offocus is one that, unlike more 'formalistic' analyses. leads to a greaterappreciation of how individuals and groups organise and perceive thetractivities at the local level, whether in music-making or any other active•pursuit.h' dMost studies of music and musicians are of professionals. This is the t tr. I ' . ' , reatmajor reason why amidst the concentration on centra mstItUtions, g dartists' and professional musicians. local music has been so little notice I'f dand locaBut musical practice can equally be oun among amateur8


The e:xistence and study of local musicractitioners." Why should we assume th .P . I" at muslc-mak" " hof full-time specla IStS or the prime res po "b"I' 109 IS t e monopoly" h . I nSI I Ity of state- ."tions like t e natlona orchestras or oper hsupported mstltuk109 It ecomes clear that 't" " b a ouses' Once k hand start 100I'IS aI'so the pwe as.tfe questionupon thousands of grass-roots musicians h ursult 0 thousands"II I " ' t e not very exp Iexpert, stl earmng as well as accom r h d " ert as we I as. hiP IS e , quarrellmg a IIharmOniOus - a woe cross-section in oth d s we as" ". h ,er wor s, of ordinar Iengage d 111 musIC 111 t e course of their lives Th" b k y peop e" "" h . IS 00 then IS not 0centra I mstltutlons . or t e professionals ' but ab out amateur ' music-making . ' in na loca I setting.With the . partial exception . . of brass " bands ' the re h as b een I" IItt e study ofamateurs m England" , mdeed, . as Munel . NlSsel sums it up . In h er aut h"" OrttatlveFacts about the arts, very httle mformation at present e " h " d. . . . Xlsts on r e vaneand WIdespread activIties of the many people involved in the arts asamateurs' (1983, p. 1). Giventhis lack of research it is perhaps not surprisingthat the role of local mUSIcIans should be so little appreciated, but theircontribution becomes very obvious once attention is focussed on the actualpractices of these part-time amateurs. Not that the concept of 'amateurmusicians' is unambiguous - some of the complexities and qualificationssurrounding the term are explored in the next chapter - but it can be saidthat the findings of this study reveal how serious a gap in our knowledge hasresulted from the existing concentration on the professionals.The main points I have been making can best be summed up by sayingthat we should not assume - as many past studies and approaches haveimplicitly done - that we already know what in fact should still remain as aquestion for investigation. It is easy to think that we already know or agreeon what is most 'important' about music, how it should be defined andjudged, how people value and experience different aspects of our culture, orhow far people's lives are determined by, say, governmental decisions, themass media socio-economic class - or the practice of music. But thesequesrions n~ed both further thought and empirical investigation. on theground before we can accept the sometimes unquestioned conclUSIOns of,say, the mass society theorists or the class-dominated visions of some socIal. " I I . . f r when these and SImIlarSCIentists at least as far as oca muSIC goes, 0.' ." h I I I I the reality turns out to beassumptIons are mvestlgated at t e oca eve,rather different." d d 'b te to some great Theory 0fThIS study therefore is not II1ten e to conm"I dubased in theIirst"mstancemUSIC, but rather to be a more mo d est soc .. stu y, " . d. ur to Wider questions an111 the local ethnography but also movll1g 0 " e ofd " d 'f" 'what unsystematIC rangrawmg msplratloll from • bro. I some h logy sociology,. I" . rtIcuilr ,lilt ropo ,SOurces across sevcral disclp Illes, In p. ' f' lar culture' the' d f Ikl • the study 0 popu 'ur b an and commumty stu ICS, 0 ore, . d "' I history. These" logy all SOCIamore anthropological side of ethllOmuS lco , 9


Introductoryethnographic findings and the theoretical approaches which I foundf I~o elucIdate them illuminate some central questions in the social stu~e u foth urban lIfe and musical practice. These to some extent underlie\~eexposItIon throughout (specially in parts 4 and 5) and are taken up for moreexplIcIt dIscussion in the two final chapters. Their end result is sometimes tobUIld on but also often to reject the emphasis and conclusions evident innumber of other studies of music by the test of the facts as discovered in thi:case study of musical practice.The approach in this book thus follows a rather different line from that ofthe majority of studies of music. U A focus on the existence and interaction ofdifferent musics, on musical practice rather than musical works, and on theamateur rather than professional side of music-making reveals the hithertounsuspected scope of music-making, with far-reaching implications for Ourlives today. One revelation was the sheer amount and variety of local music:far richer, more creative and of more significance for people's lives than isrecognised even in the participants' own consciousness, far less in muchconventional social science wisdom about English culture. Many of ourvalued institutions are pictured as just floating on invisibly and withouteffort. On the contrary, as will become clear, a great deal of work andcommitment have to be put into their continuance: they do not just 'happen'naturally." Local music, furthermore - the kind of activity so often omittedin many approaches to urban study" - turns out to be neither formless nor,as we might suppose, just the product of individual endeavour, bur to bestructured according to a series of cultural conventions and organisedpractices, ro be explained in this book, in which both social continuity andindividual choices play a part. The patterns within this system may notalways be within our conscious awareness, but nonetheless playa crucialpart in our cultural processes.This study will therefore, I hope, enhance our understanding of Britishcultural institutions, a subject on which social science writing is relativelysparse compared to the huge number of treatments of, fot example, socialstratification, industrial employment, or macro-studies of society or state.Artistic expression and enactment are also important to people, perhaps assignificant for their lives as the traditional concerns of social theorists - or,at any rate, it seems often to be a matter of mere assumption rather thanobjective evidence that they are not. I hope my treatment may help to redressthe balance of social science work on Britain as well as lead to greaterunderstanding of the nature and implications of local music. .' ,One final point. It is hard to write at once with the social .sclentIst sdetachment and at the same time with a full personal apprecIatIon of thehuman creativity involved in artistic expression and performance." Theconstant temptations are either to fall into the reductionist trap of,. say,seeing music as just the epiphenomenon of social structure or alternatIvely10


I'stence and study of local musicThe exb Swept away by the facile romanticising of 'art' By consl'de . . Iro e . '. . rIng malO y. al practIce and ItS convenrtons rather than musical wo k I hmusIc. r s, ope tosome extent to hav~ aVOIded the second of these temptations. As for rhe first,a written academIc account can probably never totally avoid giving afaceless and redUCIng ImpreSSIOn of what to the participants themselves is. h and engrosSIng artlsrtc expenence; I am also aware that by comparingflC . . h Ihe many different musIcs In t e area am depriving myself and my readerst f the full understanding that a deeper search into just one musical group or°radition might have provided. I hope, though, that despite all this myt nuine appreciation for the real (not merely 'reflective' or 'secondary')~usical achievements of local musicians will still shine through the attemptat objectivity and reveal something of a reality that has too often remainedunnoticed.II


.. eynes andIts musIcIn Milton Keynes local music was unquestl'onabl fl . h' A . k. y ouns mg. qUlcpreview..of the'"music-making going on bet ween I980 andI98 .4 can give apreliminary indication of its extent.Here, then, is a summary list of the main groups and activities in andaround Milton Keynes in the early I980s, each the subject of fullerexploration in later chapters: three to four classical orchestras and severaldozen youth and school orchestras; five to eight main brass bands andseveral smaller ones; nine or ten independent four-part choirs in the classicaltradition together with many small groups, and choirs in most schools andchurches; around six operatic or musical drama societies, including twoGilbert and Sullivan societies; over a dozen jazz groups playing in regularjazz venues known to their devotees; five or six folk clubs, a dozen folkgroups, and about four 'ceilidh' dance bands; two leading country andwestern bands plus other more fluid groups and an extremely successfulclub' , and a hundred or more small rock and pop bands. Live music was.being heard and performed not just in public halls but also m chutches,schools, open air festivals, social clubs and pubs, and the local newspaperswere teeming with advertisements about local musical gathenngs. .Definitive numbers are impossible, if only because groups tYPically· d d re-formed during the four years of the research,f o rme d d Isappeare an , II h' f . g definitions of 'music' or of 'group as we as t ean d b ecause 0 varYIn , . K ' f. h d ws the boundaries of Milton eynes or 0Problem of Just ow one ra I h d d• . , , But in all there must have been severa un reM il ton Kcyncs musIC. b d nd performing in and around thefunction ing musical groupS ase a h.d f I crformanccs cac year.locality, a nd hun d rc SOlve p f h' 1llsical Hts bc cxpl.tined, and. k , ·ftl rcsccncc () ten , ' . .1 low can thl\ \trI II1g co · f hI If first sighl seem to lie In the' d ' () • 'ruclll ,1Cwr mig, .' , . hh ow W,1 II ' U,WIIlC, nc c' • f IInt.lIn·, 'ncw towns WitfA I " " 11


Introductoryto create new towns to re leve.' ted from 196 os P I an SMilton Keynes ongtna . L d nd the South-East. An area of. d . I ressures In on on a . ,industrial an SOCIa p . h h' as designated tn 1967 as a new. N th Bucktng ams Ire w f d'22,000 acres tn or . d wirh government un mg. Thed d l ent corporation createcity" an a eve opm . h d 1980s so that the populationplans were being implemented tn t e 1970S an 6 to ' 000 in 1977, 95,000 inof the designated area grew ftom 4 0 ,0008 tn ~t~ a t~~~et of 200,000 in 1990.8 'n 1983 and 122 000 tn 19 5 . .19 0, II2,000 If' . bl" hed north-south commUnicationThe site was partly chosen or ItS esta IS . h'W I· Street (to become a matn coac tng ,I" k . f the Roman at tngr:u:~ ~~r:~~fat:~:ill the A5 ) as well as the Grand Union Canal, nineteenthcenturyrailway and, more recently, the Mr. h d b k. f M'lton Keynes' a ecome nownBy the early 1980s 'the new cIty 0 I ..'throughout rhe country for irs glamorous advertlsmg, Its large covered. (dl the largest in Europe) and ItS Imagtnatlveshopptng centre repute ylandscaping with its millions of trees. It had also . managed to attract avariety of both large and small firms, mostly light Industrtes, dIstributioncentres and offices offering a wide spread of employment. T,he promotionalliterature describes it, in typically glOWing language, as a growing CItywhich is providing people with an attractive and prosperous place In whIchto live and work'.The town thus built up was not totally new, however, despite theimpression sometimes given to outsiders. The Milton Keynes 'designatedarea' also incorporated thirteen or so existing villages and, more important,three established towns of some substance. These were Bletchley, originallya local market town, then, ftom the establishment of the London-Birminghamrailway, a thriving industrial centre and later London overspill;Wolverton, once itself a 'new' town, home of the railway works from 1848,for long the largest single employer in the area; and Stony Stratford, datingback to the thirteenth century and still notable for its Georgian high streetand old coaching inns. As can be seen clearly in the aerial views in figure 3,Milton Keynes was a mixture of the old and the new. The locality was thusinfluenced not only by the new plans of the Milton Keynes DevelopmentCorporation (MKDC) interacting with both private enterprise and publicauthorities, but also by already-established local institutions. Because of theexisting links which already ran across the area, Milton Keynes was oftenthought of as not confined just to the 'designated' site of the 'new city' butalso as taking in the slightly wider area covered by the Borough of MiltonKeynes (BMK). BMK included around 20,000 more people and covered thetown of Newport Pagnell and villages such as Woburn Sands. These hadlong been part of the local connections in this part of North BuckinghamshIreand were also increasingly associated with Milton Keynes. Indeed forcertain purposes such as educational or church organisation it was suchhnks and not the 'designated area' boundaries which were applied (figures22I'


,- ~.- "\.\" ..~In troductoryCOMPARISON WITH NATIONALAGE STRUCTURECHANGE IN AGE STRUCTURE SINCE 1976".15+1'0_7410-7466-6900-"55-5000-"50 -5050-50w'-'«45 -49.. -..w'-' «45-49.. -«35- 3930 - >18 - 110 - 3 ----5''--­" POPULATION8-11'-1"-----5:-------: :;"'­" POPULATION_ __ MIL TON KEYNES1983---- ENGLAND & WALES1981_ __ MilTON KEYNES1983--- MIL TON KEYNES1976Figure 4 The changing age structure in Milton Keynes an~ irs comparison with natio~alparrcrns. By 1983 the population of Milton Keynes was srl.1I ver~ much young~r than In thecountry as a whole, but less so than in 1976. There was stili a hIgher proport,lon of thoseaged o-lJ and 2.0-40, but there had been a significant i~creasc in the pr~pOrtl0ns ofteenagers, middle-aged and older people in the populanon. Based on Mtlto1t Keynes HouseholdSurvey, .198}I-2, and also the discussion in the appendix, p, 346); much of the analysishere assumes this wider sense of 'Milton Keynes'.During my research in I980-4 there was thus a rapidly growing population,drawn mainly from London and the SOuth-East. New houses and hallswere being built, schools, pubs and churches opened, and new industriesestablished, The population structure was fairly characteristic of a developingarea: more in the O-II and 20-40 age groups and more families withyoung children than in the British population as a whole (a differencegradually decreasing as the town became established). Similarly the socioeconomicstructure had its own particular features, with a relatively, thoughnot strikingly, high proportion engaged in skilled manual (and perhaps laternon-manual) work (see ligures 4-6). The owner-occupier rate for housingwas low, if rising, by national standards (41 per cent in 1979, 49 per cem in19 8 3 as agall1st the 19 8 3 national average of 57 per cent). This was hardly24


Introduction to Milton Keynes and "t " r s mus,c50%c:J Milton Keyn .. 1976o Milton Keyn .. 1979E:lll England & Wales 197820%10%professional andmanagerialother non-manual skilled manual semi and unskilledFigure 5 Socio·economic profile of Mi\con Keynes in 1979· B ase d on Postal Survey, 1979surprising give,n the numb~rs of houses for rent built in the early days of rheCity, but the high proportlon of what was - in effect - council housing maybe unexpected to those who thmk of the Milton Keynes population as all'middle class' or unusually well-to-do,Milton Keynes thus represented a complex interaction between old andnew and was in some ways gradually moving nearer to the national average,In certain respects it could indeed claim to be a ' new city' - an imageeffectively propagated by the vision (and lavish advertising) of the developmentcorporation and its officials - and was certainly characterised by aninflux of new population and government funding in the 1970S and early1980s,It could be, therefore, that the proliferation of music in Milton Keynesshould be related to this recent development, One could point to thegathering of a young and mobile population in carefully planned urbanlocations and to the enlightened policy of MKDC, who from the startemphasised the development of recreational facilities and the encouragementof the arts, The patterns of local music could thus be viewed as a, , s in the favourable contextd I Isuccessful response to these eve opment po ICleof a new city, ' ', B ' auld be over-Simple to see 11This clearly was one dimenslO n , ut 11 w , f h'd f h' ssertion Will emerge rom t epurely in these terms, The eVI ence or t IS a Th' 's that amidst" h makmg at once, IS II ater description, but one pomt IS wort 'd f t that Milton Keynes' ,,' ' for outS I ers to orge ,tee h ffectlve advertlsmg, It IS easy I d xtensive population'Th e was a rea Y an edId not begin from a tabula rasa, er, f Bletchley (which long, h ' I ' h t bhshed town 0 "1In t e area, particular Y 10 tees a f I tion withm MI toncontinued to be the single largest centre a popu a h with further linksd Wolverton, eacKeynes) but also in Stony Strat f ordan 25


IntroductoryPOPULATIONDesignated Area 7)At designation (January 196At time of SurveyNow IMarch 1985)AGEGROUPS0-4 10,9705-8 8,4709- 12 7,82013- 15 5,29016-19 7,05020-24 8,96025-29 10,51030,;)4 10,05035,;)9 10,26040-4445-4950-5455-5960-6465-6970-7475+Not answered40,000112,000122,0006,0804,6903,6403,5704,0903,2502,9503,0501,950HOUSEHOLD TENURETotal households 39,780RentCorporationBoroughOther33%15%3%SOCIO-ECONOMIC GROUPBase: those in work 46,404Professiona lima nagerialOther non-manualskilled manualsemi-skilled manualunskilled manualself-employed (non-professional)SaleNew TownSitting tenant purchasedOtherShared ownership16%4%26%3%16%36%28%12%5%3%ECONOMIC ACTIVITY8ase: 16 + years 79,250Full·time workPart·time work50%6%16-29 hrs16 or fewer3%~i~wo~•Permanently sick 2%RetiredStudent13%3%Keeping house 15%Figure 6 Milton Keynes facts and figures (J983). Based On Milton Keynes HouseholdSurvey, 1983to such other nearby centres as Woburn Sands, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamand the Intervening villages. These towns and villages had theirOwn active and continuing Cultures different, no doubt, from the largerscaleand more 'nationally' oriented institutions later encouraged by theMKDC but each with its Own validity. The later developments in the 1972605


iI/troductioll to Milton Keynes and 'Its musicand 1980s can, Ionly be fully understood 'often congcl1Ia, sometimes ab' as Involving so '. raSlve _ . h me Illter .institutIons. WIt already estab li she~CtIon -A detaIled account of the earl' h' local, "er IStory f Ion ItS own, but some Illustrationscan PUt the0Iocal music'Wou ld be a subject'One was t h e , I ong choral , traditio n m ' t h e locali ater SItuation ' into perspectIve, 'century, partIcularly m the establ'IShedassoCI' ty.'Th,sbwem back totheastIchurches and o rganists,and contmue' dstroatIonIetween'choirs and IocaIBetween the wars, for example th ng y m more recem tim' , ' ere was th fl ' , es,Chora I SoClety m Bletchley und ' I' e ounshmg Co-operativeer Its Ively 'Iremembered by older Bletchley inh b' ral way conductor, still wellC' h ' h I a Itants, followed b h Ih Olr, w IC asted for over tw y t e B etchley Ladiesenty years from hregular choral performances in the I I h t e 1940S on, as well asoca c urches d IIChurch C hoir Festival in the 1950S M f ' an a we -attended Free. any 0 the su d' 'IItheir own choral societies and camp t d ' h h trOun 109, e e WIt t e W 'I'VI ages had,in the Buckll1gham music festival N P omen s nstltute chOIrS. ewport agnell's ch I ' ,flourishing in the 19 8 0s had b'een puttmg on p fora socIety,'stili'd ' , , er ormances and mvitingOUtSI e artIsts to' 11 Iksll1g WIth them since 191 ( ' h f ' ,,0 WIt a ew Interruptions), andpeop I e Stl ta , ed of the wartime occasion at th e EI ectra C' merna whenOwen , Branmgan ' . sang and was paid with £ro and t wo d ozen eggs. Th eseear Iler traditions formed the base for later developments like the stilleXlstll1gBletchley-based Sherwood Choir , drawl'ng rna ny 0 f ItS ' mem b ersfrom the older Bletchley Ladies Choir. This and many other recent groupswere able to buIld on the establIshed choral tradition not only for theirsingers but also for ready audiences, instrumental support, and recognisedperformance venues like the old churches.The same interaction between the new and the already established wasalso to be found in other musical forms. Brass bands played an importantrole in the 'new city', merely the most recent manifestation of an alreadystrong local tradition which included several brass bands dating back to theturn of the century or earlier. Similarly there were earlier orchestras such asthe inter-war Apollo Orchestra in Bletchley, church concert parties like theSpurgeon Baptist Chapel's Busy Bees, and dance bands like the PapworthTrio (figure 7) who were performing all through the war for parents'association dances in the school halls - a role now more usually fulfilled bythe 'ceilidh' folk bands _ and continued to play for Bletchco Players (a"') 'II h s The newer musical groups thusd rama group still m eXIstence tI t e 195 0 , '. , 'h ' " in the same tradition offi tred easily into the loca I SItuation, s ann",performance for local events and"societies.b" of individual performers andThere was al~() the already-eXIstingdb".lse ' I b1 putting on regular reClta S YI ocal music teachers ~OJl1e of w h om h a eel d h groups. ' , d f schools an at ertheIr pupils in the mcer-war years, .In .0 ' .. dd d the foundation of. . I I " T thiS W3S. 1 eproducmg oper3S and muslca p JYS. 0 .27


introductory-•-h T . lar dance band in the Bletchlcy area from the 19305Figure 7 The Papworr no, a popu . P thtothe 19505, led by the local greengrocer, pianist and organist Tom apworthe LEA 's North Bucks M usic Centre in Bletchley in 1964. T his provided afocus both for school music and for local groups fo unded In the seventies topractise on its premises off Sherwood Drive, among them the SherwoodSinfonia Sherwood Choir and re-formed Bletchley Ba nd .Many' other 1980s groups too had their roots in earlier societies: forexample the flourishing Milton Keynes Amateur O peratic Society (founded1952 as the Bletchley Amateur Operatic Society fo llowing the tradition ofthe pre-war Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Amateur Operatic Society), theMilton Keynes and District Pipe Band (founded from Bletchley, 197112) andthe Bletchley Organ Society with its regular monthly meetings since 1971.Similarly many of the earlier local festivals continued into the 1970S and19 8 0s, sometimes the models for parallel festivals in the 'new city'. Amongthese were the annual Bletchley Middle School Music Festival, the Bletchleyand District First Schools Folk Dance Festival, the Boys' Brigade annualprocession, and the Spurgeon's Church 'Carols for Everybody', a yearlyevent since 1961. The Milton Keynes Festival of Arts was founded as theBletchley Festival of the Arts in 1968 and by the 19 8 0s was attractingthous~nds of entries each year from throughout the city and beyond. Thetradmon of musIC In the schools was important too, and ex-scholars of the(earlier) Bletchley Grammar School and Radcliffe School in Wolverton wereformative Influences in local folk and rock music, and together with28


Introduction to Milton Keynes and it . 5 musICnewcomers were still making an activ ' .e Contnbut hin the 198o~ . . IOn to t e local music sceneTo explaIn the musIcal character of M ·I. . .. f I ton Keynes I I .new city or Initiatives rom above would h b so e y In terms of theunderstandable that some of the o ffi ci I t usean over-simplification. It ISas p l annmg the h Iview that cu I tura I d evelopment had to b . . . arts s au d take the. h e Inttlated fro m thbelieve t h at WIt out their suppOrt ge top - even halfh. Th· IS, a ter a , is an approach in kee in w. 1I not reallyf II rass-roots music co Idflourisphilosophy that ' In all types of new co p. g hlth the accepted pl. nntngmmuntty t e baSIC ·bT frecreational provision lies with the loc I h . ' responsl I Ity ora aut a m y (Veal '9 ) Aearly arts manager in the city explained the f 'b . 75, p. 79·. process 0 nnglng art into thnlives 0 f t h ose I··IVIng " In a new city' from the· viewpoint . 0 f planners' 41t is e aslow.but rewarddIIngf Iprocess. One digs"fertilisespIants, prunes and.tends-WIth a . great bl ea 0 . ave. After many years the rose s WI ·11 h ave d eve I oped andthe prize ooms WIll be ready . for show." Certainl Y thO IS centra I encouragementwas one real element. WIthout the initial sponsorship by the MKDC~nd BMK rr:any of the larger-scale and more 'nationally' oriented andprofeSSIOnal musIcal Institutions like the Wavendon Allmusic Plan, theMIlton Keynes Chamber Orchestra, or the 'February Festival' would neverhave been set Up; and MKDC in particular had an impressive record intapping both private enterprise and local initiative to encourage a widevariety of local recreational opportunities. But concentrating only on a topdownmodel would be to miss the essential contribution of the existitlgmusical traditions which not only often continued as important foci for localinterest but also laid the base for later additional activities. Indeed someMKDC administrators explicitly recognised this, notably certain leadingindividuals in the 'Social Development' programme who made a point ofworking with existing musical groups and responding to the initiatives oflocal residents. The informal processes and expectations underlying thelocal practice of music and the people who maintained the local clubs andgtoupS over the years thus also played a crucial role, one that cannot beunderstood by considering the official institutions alone.Probably no city is 'typical', and it will be obvious from the ~bove tha~Milton Keynes in the early I980s certainly was not. It was a new cIty. . . b f h sands during the research andgroWIng In population y some..tensd0 t OUh· and SOCIal.strUcture dlvercharacterizedby lavish pubhclty,.,emograpd th specialICimpetus 0fnew ChaIIengesgent from the national 'average,.an.eent In the absence 0fcomparableand new developments III a new envlronm .. I' f ·cal practice inh . 'typlca 0 muslstudies, we do not yet know w at IS h fore claim to presentT h dy does not t erecontemporary English towns. IS stu b . ve an ethnographica detailed representation of all English towns, ut to glaCCOunt of just one at one particular period. h t and nature of theHence I have no doubt that rhe details of t e exten29


Introductorymusical activities presented here or the personalities who helped to creatthem are indeed unique. But equally I feel certain from the informal evidenc:discussed later, from the existing foundations in the area, and from the vermix of people from different origins in Milton Keynes, that many of th~broad patterns described in later chapters are to be found fairly widely inEngland _ an invisible system structuring and maintaining local music uand down the country.p30


Musical worlds in Milto Kn eynesThis part gives some account of the differing m . . M .I. d ·ffi USICS In I ton Keynes in theearly 1980s. It IS I cult to know how to present th · . bl .. e Inevlta y overlappIngand heterogeneous matenal of so complex a stud h f h .. . . f h I y as t at 0 t e mUSIcalactivities 0 a woe town. I finally decided to begin . hi ' d ... , . ,'. Wit a p am escnprlonof the mam. .musIcal.worlds Into whIch.local music-mak'109 seemedbroadlyto be dIVIded (m part 2) and then (m part 3) consider some of the COntrastsand compansons between them before going on to the further analysis inparts 4 and 5·The idea of a musical 'world' partly arises from local participants' owndescriptions. Brass band involvement was 'a world on its own', and classicalart music seen as a 'quite different world' from that of rock music. The termhas also been used by anthropologists and others to refer to people's 'worldview' or to different 'social worlds', emphasising the differing and complexcultures of ideas and practice within which people variously live.'This has been taken further in Howard Becker's illuminating study of 'artworlds' (I982). Since the concept of musical 'worlds' has structured mypresentation in this part, it is worth quoting Becker's exposition:Art worlds consist of all the people whose activities arc necessary [0 the productionof the characteristic works which that world, and perhaps others as well, define asart. Members of art worlds coordinate the activities by which work is produced byreferring to a body of conventional understandings embodied in common practiceand in frequently used artifacts ...The interaction of all the involved parties produces a shared sense of the worth ofh. I . arion of the conventions theywhat they collectively produce. T eIr mutua appreCI,II ff d other convince them that whatshare, and the support they mu[U3 y a or one an , . . ".. h.. f h de the defil1ltlon of art, t CItthey are doing is worth domg. I t ey act un r I·d k f (Becker. h h d ce arc va 1 wor so art.mteraction convinces [hem [hat w at t ey pro u198 2, pp. 34, 39)The 'mus ical worlds' of Milron Keynes wereworlds'.' They were distinguishable not just byinstances of such 'arttheir differing musical3 I


. I worlds ill MillOlI KeyllesM I/SIcaI b her social conventions: in the people who took Pales but a so Y ot d' d f tt,sty h ' h d understandings an practices, mo es 0 product'their values, t elr s are .' f h ' II ' IOn. .' d the social organisatIOn 0and distribution, ant elr co ectlve musICa' Iactivities. d .' f h .Patt 2 thetefore presents in rum some escnptlOn 0 t . e vanous musicalId Of classical brass band, folk, mUSical theatre, Jazz, country andwor s, Id . h .western, and rock or pop music which cou Wit varymg degrees ofdistinctiveness be found in Milton Keynes. Each IS treated here as valid initself, presented at least in part from the viewpoint of its participants. Thisapproach is necessary for understanding the conventions in these diffetingworlds in their own terms, but it is also one that, surprIsmgly, cannot betaken for granted. 'Music' tends to be at once a word of approval and onethat means different things to different people; what one group unambiguouslydefine as 'music' may be rejected by others as not 'really' music, atas 'mere noise' or 'childish' or 'just a boring series of notes'. It thus takessome detachment as well as self-education to envisage music right across thespectrum from 'pop' to 'classical' as equally valid, for this means refusing toaccept anyone set of assumptions about the 'true' narure of music andinstead exploring each 'world' as of equal authenticity with others.


Rock and popMilton Keynes was swarming with rock and po b d' ' h b d lb' p an s. They werePerformIng In t e pu s an c u s, practIsing in garageI I . . s, YOUt h c I u b s, churchhalls and schoo c assrooms, advertisIng for new me b . h. h " m ers 10 t e localPapers and luggIng t elf Instruments around by car Or a f Thn oot. ere wereProbably around roo groups, each with their Own colourf I d' . u names anbrand of musIc. ThIS chapter focusses on the activities of these local andlargely amateur performers. It is not, in other words, intended as acontribution to the large - if very variable -literature on 'rock' and 'pop'music in general- (though some of thIS work will be referred to later as bothinfluencing and, to some extent, misrepresenting local practice), nor is itconcerned with nationally famous bands, or the recording industry, ormusicological analysis. Rather it tries to fill what has been something of agap in this more generalised literature by reporting on the practice of thegrass-roots amateur musicians playing in local venues in one specificlocality. 'A ptoblem that needs to be tackled straightaway is that of what is beingcovered in this chapter. What exactly is meant by 'rock' and 'pop'? Therewere certainly large numbers of bands in Milton Keynes in the broad areapopularly known as rock/ pop; but precisely what kinds of music wereinvolved, how to classify or sub-divide them, and where the lines should bedrawn (and by whom) was all extremely elusive. .This was partly because of well-known changes and confUSIOns overterminology. Despite confident labels in both the popular musical press andaca d emlc . analyses, popular musIC . c I assl 'fi' cations ar e far from agreed. Dere kJewell expressed this well:Th. s change' no authoriries one terminology of popular music is a maze. MeanIng d' d' ploy the. TV an ra 10 emUsage exist; little wonder that newspapers, magazmes,he fairly crudeIanguage of modern music so loosely.'Rock"n rall' for somedmeansd 'ntthe immediatemuSIc'usedfor dancing or as generalIelSure. background pro ucedItrum of youthwake afElvis Presley; others use it. 'f he very broa specto S1gnl Y tr03


A-1ushdlll'orlds III !-vfl/ton Keynes·ome verv sophisticated, covering the whole of the 19605musIC, '">orne 'ilmp I e, S I and19'705... h ,·nology which I employed down the years changingI can sec { e term . d 'P ,('b ' as. . d d new words were mvente. op even eat') Wasdefim(lons were reVise an .' d h f onc~·b Th B ties Then as thelf muSIC an t at 0 others grewused to descri e e ea., . I . I d rnOre. ore loaded with socIal, po 1{ICa, rug and my .complex, mOTC senoUS, m _ _, . , b S[lcai'k'ftended [0 be set in conrra·dlsrmctlon [0 pop y the YOung PUndre erences, roc . k R 1/ ItslTh f d the platform In journals hke Melody Ma er, 0 mg Slone and New 0 oun . d {i d' k' tvMusical Express. No one has ever sa[isfac[Qr~ly e ne . roc ,any more .than 'jazz'h b d fined satisfactorily - you suggest ItS properties, rather than pm it dow3S een e hI" nfirmly _ but the word carried overrone~ of roug, ~ess! ~rotests! po ![!~s! seriOUsnessand sometimes of sophisticated and skdfu~ musICI,ansh,lp compared With the frothy,easy~listening and more childish connotanons of pop,Towards the end of the 1960s and thereafter, rock and pop were used as separateterms by some commentarors and interchangeably by others .. , Punk rock and discoarrived in rhe later 1970S further ro confuse the scene.All this only begins to suggest the changes of popular fashion and the continualflux of its vocabu lary. (Jewell 1980, pp. 13-14)The differing terms reflecred not only changes in musical styles but alsodifferences among practising musicians themselves. From the outside 'rock'and 'pop' may look more or less synonymous terms, but some musiciansmade a point of differentiating them. 'Pop' was sometimes used by players asa way of rejecting what they considered the wilder extremes of, say, heavymetal or punk (which they called 'rock'); for others, 'pop' meant the TopTen (or Top Forry) records, which they regarded as distinct from otherpopular styles like folk, country and western, soul, jazz, rock or reggae. Butthese differentiations were not always observed, and some who themselvespreferred to distinguish 'pop' from other music were still prepared to acceptthe term to describe their own tastes to outsiders.The ge>teral terms 'rock' and 'pop' were in fact little used by localmusicians. The unqualified words ' rock' or 'pop' seldom or never appearedin local bands' self-descriptions, for they preferred narrower and morespecific terms: 'punk', 'heavy metal', 'soft rock', 'light rock', 'new wave','M.O.R.' (Middle of the Road), 'late 60S early 70S feel, beat music', 'funkysoul', 'ska, blue beat and reggae', 'progressive rock', 'acid pop', 'power pop','high energy rock', 'high energy progressive folk rock (not heavy)', 'futurist','rock/ pop', 'new wave/ pop', 'blues rockers', or 'Golden Oldies, ClassicOldies, I960s, Beatles and Motown' - to quote just a few. Creating an imagefor their own music sometimes led to quite complex descriptions in theirpublicity material. The Kingsize Keen Band, for example, played 'Rock an,dRoll and blues rnfluenced music' or 'blues, soul and rock' Ha! Ha! Guru Smusic was 'difficult to pigeon-hole. Melodic _ verging o~ avallt garde attimes: trying to bridge bland and abrasive music; a logical extension ofpunk, while Dancrng Counterparts played 'English punk/alternative dance.I04I"1~·Ie ,{itlJ~')IlorI~'sO,0,aeI.i~di13fomm,


[l.ock and pop""he band admit to being greatly inAuenc db) 'h ' d e ydescrIbe t elf soun s as new wave w' hthepunkexplosio bto II f II b dl " It a late 6 n Ut prefer""hese bands a e roa y withIn the' k' os psychedelic f I 'J . roc and I, ee to it'Iar both that the boundanes were not I pop area, but it b 'c e , I ' c ear CUt and h ' ecame, ns were of 1m e Interest to the practl't' t at wider gene I'(10 loners The ra Isagreement nor concern among local band 'd re seemed to be neitha ' h s an thelt d ' erbstract questions as wether reggae or pu k a mIrers about sucha n were fo for ska fitted in, or whether rock 'n' roll wa' II' rms 0 rock, how soulthem was the particular form of music the s ~ea y rock, What interestedstyle,y t emselves engaged in and itsBands did of course differ among themsel Thves, ere wer fcontrasts between heavy metal, rock 'n' roll k e, Or example," , pun , and reggae - IImonly faun d categones In both the popular mus d a com-'II'IC press an academic w k(e,g, Fnth 1978, Vu lamy and Lee 1980, 1982 Middl t d M ' or sh'd I " e on an uncle 1981)However, t e WI e y asssumed national association f ' I ' , ''d'd ISO muslca With SOCialcategOrIes I not a ways fit the Milton Keynes s't ' Th, ' I uatlon, us theclaSSification of a performance as, say 'punk' depended h h.' as mue on t eimage developed by a partIcular local band as on nationally detectabledifferences In musical style, general behaviour or class background, Similarlycertain local pubs gained reputations for specific music - 'heavy rock'for example - drawing a clientele that defined themselves not only bymusical allegiance but also by other local ties too, as with the Starting Gatemotor bikers. Several local players had built up informal fan groups whofollowed their band without much interest in the wider typologies. Theseallegiances were reinforced by the stress on locally generated music, for asdescribed in chapter 13 practically all these bands played a high proportionof their own compositions. What mattered was their own style rather thangeneral labels, and though players sometimes like to relate themselves tonationally accepted images their typical interest was to get on with creatingand performing their own music.This came out clearly in a discussion at the Compass Club, a local youthclub well known for its rock music. The members insisted that labels hke'punk' 'skinhead' and 'futurist' came from 'the media' rather than their ownmusic ~r behaviour. 'OK, a lot of our clothes are taken from w~at's called, I'k f 't" or agam People seenew romantics - but we take the bits we I e rom I , , d 'd, h d'ff I thes on and they eCI esomeone walking down the street Wit I erent co, k M h'II d ythmg - pun, 0 Ican,t h ey're a futurist or something. I've been ca e ever h .' s stressedk' I' ' me 'T e mUSICianS Inhead, futurist. I'm none of those... m Just . k h edia-createdth h ' d h I posers stuC to ternat t elr music was central, an t at on y b h right clothes.I b I ' " S d ush out ro uy t ea e s: They see somethmg 10 the un an r 'They think becauseOn k d h 're a futurIst. ,e wee they're a skinhea , next t ey , , . the music. I don tmtotheY're into the clothes they're into the muSIC. I m der_estimated the, dou b t uncare about the clothes.' Such statements no 1 05


Rock and popband admit to being greatly influenc d bTh e . dey the kdescribe their soun s as new wave w' h pun explosion bto II f II b dl ' It a late 60 Ut preferThese bands a e roa y within the ' k' 5. roc andPSYchedelic fe I .c. e to it:I ar both that the boundanes were not I pop atea, but it bc e .' c eat CUt and th ' ecame. nS were of little mterest to the practl't' at wider gener I'tlO loners. There a ISagreementnor concern among local band d . seemed to be neitha . h s an their ad . erbstract quesnons as wether reggae or pu kmltets about sucha n were for for ska fitted in, or whether rock 'n' roll wa' II' ms 0 tock, how soul. I f s rea y tock Wh .them was t h e partlcu ar orm of music th h . at Interestedey t emselves engaged in and itstye. lsBands did of course differ among themselv Thes. ere were f IcontrastS between heavy metal, rock 'n' roll p k d ,or examp e,. . , un, an teggae - allmonly found categones 10 both the populat music d . com-II 'press an academic wo k(e.g. Frith 1978, Vu lamy and Lee 1980 1982 Middlet d M . r s'd I ." . on an uncle 1981).However, the WI e y asssumed natIOnal associations of . I . h ." d I mUSlca Wit socialcaregones dl not a ways fit the Milton Keynes situarion. Thus theelasslficanon of a performance as, say, 'punk' depended as much on theimage developed by a parttcular local band as on nationally derecrabledifferences 10 musical style, general behavioUt or class background. Similarlycertain local pubs gained reputations for specific music - 'heavy rock'for example - drawing a clientele that defined themselves not only bymusical allegiance but also by other local ties too, as with the Srarting Garemotor bikers. Several local players had built up informal fan gtOUps whofollowed their band without much interest in the wider rypologies. Theseallegiances were reinforced by the stress on locally gene tared music, for asdescribed in chapter 13 practically all these bands played a high proportionof their own compositions. What mattered was theit own style rather thangeneral labels, and though players sometimes like to telate themselves tonationally accepted images their typical interest was to get on with ctearingand performing their own music.This came out clearly in a discussion at the Compass Club, a local youthclub well known for its rock music. The members insisted rhat labels hke'punk', 'skinhead' and 'futurist' came from 'the media' rathet than t~elt ~~~music Or behaviour. 'OK, a lot of our clothes are taken from w~at s Cia e. I'k fit" Ot agam, Peop e seenew romantics - but we take the bits we I e rom, d h d 'd. h d'ff I thes on an r ey eCI esomeone walking down the street Wit I erent co. k M hicanhII d erythmg - pun, 0 ,I ey're a futurist or something. I've b een ca e ev 'Th 'c',ans stressedk' h I' st me e mUSI5 In ead, futurist. I'm none of those ... m JU • k h media-createdIh h ' d h I posers stuC to t eat t elr music was central, an t at on y b he right clorhes.I b I ' . ' S d ush out to uy roa e s: They see somethmg 10 the un an r . Th think becauseh ' a futunst. ey ,ne week they're a skinhead, next t ey re . , . the music. I don tth ' . . h musIC I m mro d hey re Into the clothes they're mto t e . b der estimate r e, dou t un -care about the clothes.' Such statements noI05


Musical worlds ;"Milton Keynesvia lightclassicalMusichallmusical influencesEurop;:,,::.nr--,---'TraditionalfolkviamilitarybandsAfro-American mu -;:::;:=l.--;:;::::;;>--~ __ Slcal influe~;agtimeBalladsWorksongsTin PanAlleyCountry andwesternRhythm'n'bluesSoul musicAmerican Rock 'n' Urban Tamlafolkroll blues MotownrevivalSk.Bluebea\R"",~~.r---__ ::~ Punk andinnew waveF;gure 18 The interaction of European and Afro-American musical inAuences_ The shadedarea indicates the forms covered by the broad sense o f 'rock and pop' used in this chaplerextent to which local musicians were affected by the media, but they Werestill making a valid point about how they themselves perceived theiractivities - as part of local bands with the autonomy to do their own thingwithout being determined by national labels.Given both the local heterogeneity and the ambiguity of key terms, anygeneral statement about the exact nature of this music is necessarily open rochallenge. Indeed, the musical characteristics of rock and the processes bywhich Afro-American-originated music has developed in this country andelsewhere are still matters of controversy. However, a rough indication ofthe general area treated here can be taken from Vulliamy and Lee's outline(figure 18) and their suggested working summary of the term:Rock covers a vast area of music from the more technically adventurous groups,whose music is to be found predominantly or even exclusively on LP records, to themore commercially orientated post-I964 derivations of earlier rock 'n' roll. It alsocovers the wide range of musical approaches thrown up by punk and the newwave. (Vulliamy and Lee 1982, p. 10)Not all writers would accept this precise wording, and the V3rying linksbetween the various forms in the Anglo-American/ European chain artrelative and overlapping rather than absolute, with rock somettmes glren Jnarrower sense than here. Rock 'n' roll, sOlll, reggae and plink, for ex.lmple,are sometlme~taken as distinct forms, sometimes (as III thiS chJprerlmeluded under the oroad general headmg of ·rock'.pop'. Both Fill ,lnJ106RaReRcS~SISoScSoSIS)C1"U


k tJ"d popROcounc( s IId wesrern musIc are common y dlStlngulShed [ .ktry an • d fi ..) ., . rOm rllc and pupn vulhamy and Lee s e ornon ,and thl~ dIstinctIon" bruadly [oll""ed3 isb~k, , ,in thne of the most striking features of the MIlton Keynes local scene was Iheo large number , of bands 'h plaYing rock .. and pop In this wide sense . of Ih.tvery s far exceeding those In t e categones dIscussed earher (Iall, folk, andlerm un try , an d western), Over about b four years In the early 1980s I IdentIfiedco d 0 named rock or pop ands in MIlton Keynes and Ihat onlyaro u ~ed1~hose I heard of, certainly not all, Some were succes,ive phasesInclu h n co-existent groups, for another charactenstlC of these localrather t a their transience, with 'new' bands constantly emergmg from abands was f existing players under different names, But even gIven IhlSreshu 'd' ffl rng I estlma 0. ted that at anyone time there were about 100 rock and popfiul bands Ity, practising " In 'the locality, The following are some of the bands playmgin 1980-4.'Apollo ,Basically BnanBitlaCorpse Co rpsThe CrewDancing CounterpartsExit StanceHa! Ha! GuruHerd of FishkeImperial SunsetKingsile Keen BandLights OutMartial LawMalachiThe MemoriesThe OffbeatRare MirandaRenegadeRock OffSNGSt LouisScream and the FitsSeditious ImpulseSolsticeStatic BlueSynonymousThe TempestTYpical ShitUnder the CarpetFlymg DucksFriendsHome BrewIllthThe InspectorsJavelenKev's Numb NutsLegendMalfun kshunNew ScientistsOld Wave BandThe PhalersPlasamThe Ranking DredRephrase 594The Russians,ScorpIOSeven BelowShakedownsSkintSpud and tbe FabsState of Art ,Still RomanticSAheadStreets f ImprovisationSuspects 0SystemTeazTicketzTokyo RoseThe TransistorS


kand pop[{DCIEqual StatusM' . Gr,f/ill .X-InvadersStreetC h ,,, -tZOUt of ReachUltrablueFlavourOne Up OneForeign LegionSubtle EnlltyBlack WaterThe FaceMurda SquadMade in ItalyThe StreetsHoga rgh's World ZenanaK'Y Terry BandFriend or FoeClick ClickShanghai RhythmNight WatchScarlett LlamaEach band took pride in its own distinctive music b .. f If' ut Inually shared certam orma eatures. Briefly the t . Iother respeetsus I I . ,yplca group had fourmembers, almost a ways rna e, plaYIng lead guitar rh th .. .. hi' y m gUItar, bass(g uItar) and percussIOn, WIt at east one player also singl'n . k b dd .g, ey Oar andsynthesisers were use In some.bands,.and occasionally other Instruments;.electric instruments an d amplificatIOn were preferred wherever possible.There were a few duos and tnos and the occasional band with five, six oreven - in a reggae band - seven players, but this was unusual. The playerswere regularly self-taught rather than classically trained. They normallypractised at least once a week and either put on public performances oraspired to do so, most commonly in pubs and youth clubs. They also oftenmade recordings for their own use or for 'demos' (sometimes for sale), themusic usually consisting of their own compositions. A few groups hadstayed together for years, but band break-ups followed by the membersrecombining in new groups were common.These bands were amateur rather than professional in the sense that mostplayers had other employment besides playing in the band; few belonged tothe Musicians' Union. Most were not really organised for money-making;they did not have separate managers and seldom if ever used agents toarrange bookings. From the amount of time, trouble and (m many cases)money the players invested in their music, and from their own comments, ItI. I . f t' on from therr bandWas c ear that they got great social and persona satlS ac I .m b . . h ' nd 'findmg a way toem ershlp - 'making people hsten to w at you say a.Ii ble . . nly as a pro ta express ourselves' _ rather than regarding It pnmaenterpriseB ' . me notable differences.eSldes these general features there were also so . were moreTh e pI ' d nd occupanons. ayers ages, educational backgroun s a k sic and youthvaned th b modern roc muan mOSt of the generalisations a outconcealed somecu I tUre . h h nt featuresmig t suggest. Further even t e recurre. g bands canInterest' d' '. h f six contras nniii 109 Iversities. A thumb-nat! sketc 0UStrate some of these differing processes.109


Id . Milton KeynesMusical wor s in . . .h Oung relatively mcxpenenccd and rehwere t e y , Centl fFirst, t ere y such groups, usually formed by boy Y DrilledTh were man s at thbands. ere . . h one girl. They began by ptactising 0 e sa",met1mes Wit n the eschoo, I so d endent on parental support for finance sch"


Rock al,d poptively cheap equipment they could aff dre I a . d Or . The ' hns ive repertOIre: aroun ten songs ( h If ) au not )'etexre b h a a -hour ) gOt anie of songs y at ers, but most had b ser . These IIlclud 'dcoU P . I I' een com II b e arn rhelf fema e voca 1st and song-writer' 'M . . pose ) rhem, leu b5 a, , 'w ' 0 . endlan' '[ .1 )'peace pledge,.,oman. nce a song wasready they p,nSlue.these walls',ouple of their songs ( Moon goddess' a d '[ Ut It on cassette anda C . n made th "d by the establtshed local rock band St . BI esc walls ) had beenUS e atlc ueRare Miranda had so far put on about s· bl'. d' IX pu Ie perfoaid their au lences usually including trmances, mostlyunp , wenty or so . h f[heir school. They had a lso played at a 'Glad t bAl' Slxt - ormers from. a e Ive Day' [ • f hleisure centres an d m the backroom of a local b U I'k a ono a [ e. . b' . pu. n I e some rhe . dthat their mam am man was not money Or fa . hi' ' y S31· .' I . me. t eye aimed rhar one ofrhelr pnnclp es was not to engage m commercial r e Cor d' mg but to play freefor good causes, and they saw the band's main rat' I . . .· . . • . c lona e as vOIcmg rhelrpohucal conviCtiOnS, . especially peace and feminism' . Th ey alme . d at [ytlcs .'important to the ltves of people, to make people hear h r I. . . w a young peop erhmk about certam Issues .... We hope we can inspire people to fight forchange and stand up for thmgs they believe in ... music is one way of doingthat'. Whether they would stay together as a band when they left school wasuncertain, but for the moment they had built up an outlet and a followingfor their own views and at the same time had experienced great musical andpersonal satisfaction.A second but no less typical category was of players who had left schooland were beginning to perform in local pubs or youth clubs for a small fee.Here again there were many personal differences, and the number ofperformances ranged from, say, 10 to 20 a year, perhaps with rhe occasionalappearance further afield. But such bands generally regarded themselves asreasonably well established though still near the start of, they hoped, anupward career.Again, two examples can illustrate this. The first - Scream and the Fitswasanother young band: four I8-19-year-olds (all male) in the usual vocals,· . b' . h" describing their musIC asgUitar, bass and drums com matlOn, t IS time'punk'. All had left school at 15 or 16, with a mixture of CSE and 0 levelt jobs but one waspasses. They had not yet managed to get permanen 'ff' f thThe mam dl erence rom ecurrently working with a local groun d sman. d h ter. I'f ( I three years) an t e greaear I ler groups was this band's longer I ednear Yuendy bUI'1t up.Theyhadrepertoire and web of bookings they h a co~sei d' 'There is no truth',~round15 numbers ready for performance, I~C u ll:~t one were original toBroken hero', 'Fits', and 'Sex, drugs and chaos. A 'th the others addingthem,bUI'lt up on an ongma.' I'dI eabyo.ne gUitarist WIh they had playedatw d h ous 12 mont s .or s and the rest of the tune. In t e previ I f r private occasIOnsab. d h lubs but a so aOUt 18 gigS, mainly in pubs an yout cmainly 14-20-yearforf . . f up to 100- 1 5 0 ,tlends, and had drawn audiences aIII


Musical worlds in Milton Keynesolds They reckoned to get a small fee (though sometimes juSt beer) frorn the. d f the door takings at youth clubs. For thIs theypubs an a cut 0 h I b were. . to three times a week at a local yout c u ,supplemented bpractising twO , h Yextra practices in one member s garden shed. T ey had also acquiredequipment worth around £500, produced their own T-shIrts as publicity,and made three recordings at a local studIO (Mlkro). One of these, alongwith numbers by other bands, was released on the local 'Concrete CowLabel'.The Scream and the Fits players were self-taught. The group had gOtgoing when twO of them met in the changing room at their local COmprehen_sive school and decided to found a band; at that srage they couldn't yet playbut decided to start seriously. Finding a drummer proved - as often - thebiggest problem: first they had one from school who only lasted three weeks,then a series of other hopefuls (among them a player's girlfriend), with theband contributing £25 each to buy a drum set. Their current drummer hadbeen with them eight months, and had started to teach himself just a cou pleof months before that.Their name fitted their 'punk' youth image, but they actually felt verysensitive about this, believing they were criticised just because they wereyoung and played punk music. They much objected to criticism by 'thosewho can't play or can't be bothered', but accepted that there was sometimestrouble at their gigs, particularly when - as they put it - 'different youthcults were mixed and drunk'. Indeed the Craufurd Arms, one of the leadinglocal rock pubs, refused to let punk bands play there, even for rhe local rockcontest heats in autumn I982. The first heat was eventually held at a localyouth club and Scream and the Fits came third after a disastrous start inwhich, they said, everything went wrong, the sound was so bad theycouldn't hear themselves, and the space too limited to allow theit usualleaping around. They were conscious of their aggressive reputation andboasted they would never duck out of a fight, but at the same time becameupset when they felt that their music was not taken seriously - something towhich they'd been devoting themselves for three years. They also tried tocounter their rebel image by posing for one of the local new papers outsidethe peace pagoda 'to show that we're not a violent punk group, and don't goaround smashing places up' (Milton Keynes Express, 24 June 1982). In theirview popular labels in the media and community misrepresented theirmonvanon and musical achievements.What did they themselves get out of it? Band expenses ate up theirresources for little or no return, and in addition they felt misunderstood andunapprecIated. Nevertheless, they stuck at practising two or three times aweek at the youth club where they'd been meeting for years, and producingtheir own compositions. One of their aims was, one day, to earn enoughmoney to ltve on, but tn the mean time they reckoned that playing togetherII2


Rock aId popband 'gives you something to do in has a b ' ' d ff' t e weekt if you're a It plsse 0 ,Despite mis '" somethtng to h' kabou " h ' representatlo b t Int - to put It 10 t elr own understated n yother peopl 'mean " terms - 'so h' e, Itery different 10 social background but II me ac levement'V ' equa y enthu ' 'us ic were mem b ers 0 f The VOid, a three-piece 11- I Slasnc about theirm I) I ' , a ma e grou ( ,rns and voca s p aymg new wave/ pop' 1 h d b P gUitar, bassd r U ' t a een f d d 'onths before by three ex-members of the Urb C oun e eighteenm , h an ows re-form'eW title chosen as sort, snappy - and pessim' " Th 109 under an IstlC , ey alread h d Iontact with each other through school or work d y a ongc d Th' ,an two had been f ' dsince childhoo, IS was an o lder band (in the'Ir earIy twennes)'andtlen shighly educate d t h an t h ose described so far: one had a dmarc' C' , egree, the other twoA levels an d , 10 one case, Ity and Gutlds qualificati d II ''b (b k' , ons, an a were 111Permanent JO s an 109, computer-aided design and I 'I' I, I' h mu n mgua datanetwork.'109) , Un Ike t e younger punk.)band their musicwas mOreh0bbythan maJor commitment, But they still practised every week, and had arepertoire of twenty-two songs, most by the lead guitarist (the drummerproviding Iyncs), one or two by the bass player, and the rest in collaboration.Over the previous year they had put on a dozen performances in pubsand youth clubs, and, unltke Scream and the Fits, also played in halls andcolleges further afield, mainly to audiences in their early twenties. Theyearned little from their appearances - they explained that they were usually'desperate for a gig so would play for practically nothing' - but did get smallfees (and beer) from local pubs. These were put rowards expenses, but werenowhere near enough to cover equipment or transport, so the band weresubsidised from their jobs: 'it's a charity', as they put it. Nevertheless, theywere well enough off from other sources ro afford the necessary costs, andfor the band ro possess its own P A and ro hire transport.The players had had varied musical experience. The drummer had learntfor a time in a military band, followed by self-learning, while the leadguitarist/ vocalist had been playing on a self-taught basis for seven years andcould also play bass and a range of recorders. The bass player/vocalist hadplayed since he was 15 and before that had learnt the classical guitar, as wellas taking violin, piano and singing lessons at school; he came from a musicalfamily with piano and organ skills, while his mother had sung semiprofessionallyin a choir and around various clubs. ,'d d' s Some of their songs,Th ey were now wanting to reach WI er au lence .d'hid to do more recor mg.t ey felt, deserved publishing, and they a so wante I nity radioS f h 'th the loca commua ar t ey had produced one cassette WI d d I 000(CRM R d' d had recently recor e ,, K) and broadcast on Chiltern a 10, an " d 'I want you') atcopies of a single of two songs ('Into the VOid an R ds' - a tirIeW II ' I 'H I in Space ecore Ingborough under their own labe 0 e , fill a hole in theC ' , ' 'Try 109 to 'ontmumg their 'Void' theme by, as they put It" d nd advertising mmus ' , d ' h' by mati or er aICin ustry'. They were distributing t ISII3


MIlS/cal worlds ;', Milton Keynes. I sic press as well as pressing record shops in the Norththe natlona mu, . d II ' ampd M 'I Keynes areas to stock It, an se 1I1g at local gigs If .ton an I [on '. . thel k they intended to record another single. Meantime they Y)ro e even .' d' '. were. d elop their bookings by a publicity rive, distributing phrrYll1g (0 ev . , Oto.graphs (sec Figure 19 (a)) ptojecting a 'new city rather than a 'pub' imageThey had persuaded a friend to act as. 1I1formal manager, and wet;considering using an agent. They were particularly hopll1g to get on to thuniversity and college circuit, as they did not see themselves as 'a pub band:In general, their ambition was not so much to make money as to get a goodname throughout the country: 'artistic and public acclaim'. The band Wasone way of getting through to people and influencing them, as well as havinga lot of fun, and 'sharing some ability' and 'freedom of expression'.The bands discussed so far were active and committed bur not as yet withany large reputation. But there was also the third category: bands whothough not of national stature had established a secure position in pub andclub circuits, outside as well as within Milton Keynes, played in upwards of50 or roo performances a year and, while still towards the amateur ratherthan professional end of the scale, brought in substantial fees. Such bands inMilton Keynes in r982/ 3 included, among others, Ice, Static Blue, Unit 6 (allgiving 50 60 public performances a year), Synonymous (80-roo), Bitza(IlO), and Solstice (roO-ISO), with reperroires running to sets of at least oneand a half hours and anything from 50 or 60 ro several hundred songs.Solstice were one of the best-known local bands, playing what theydefined as 'high energy progressive folk rock (not heavy)'. They had takentheir name because they saw themselves as hippies 'interested in Stone·henge', a theme kept up in their songs ('S unrise', 'Pathways', 'Mormnglight', 'The journey' and 'Peace for a new age'). Despite these somewhatfolksy overrones, they had roOts 'in rock rather than folk' (as one local paperput It), and had built up a reputation in local pubs, youth clubs Jnd colleges,as well as plaYing to audiences in some of the larger national centres Jndcompleting a tour of Scorland.SoI.nce had four core players, with guitar, bJss, drums, ,0c,ll, Jnd - 10,u ually-vrolln, They had mostly been fnends alrc,llis when the I->,wd \1.1>founded, hut there had been some (hanlles over (heir [Wl)',lnJ',l.h,ll!"·,.,lIhfe ( peclally III (heir drllmmc,,) and the) w,'re currenrls I'>l>klllj: I,H,l n'\Igul . I he core: mtmbcr, Wert' Illl"n hl°[\\lTIl~.! .H'h..1 !\). t",) ,)t "hl)nlwork"d al engillerr and Olll'.l .1 p,lt! nnw, III I III t".I,hn ,ul'l'it-ll",otlJ r'bu so.hrlc Ih (ollrth so..1\ 1I11 011'1 .. cd II", h.-.I ,.Ir! d mll".alb kground I he gUll rt I had tift d '\I(h a fc\\ pm II 1 n" me 1ct1ye r bdor but so. nthcrwI In I urr ntl I hm hun' Itthe lIule, th drumm r h d ~ n 1'1 In r >r CI hI \ rs nd had had. meI n rom th so. ell II ,so. II b nd (,CII I. Ihc h urlart I had IJu~hlhI If for bout I cr. nd th \10111\( t h d h d prnalc k"on114


p.ock alld pophout childhood (he came from a I 'rhroUg d ' c ,ss!Cally i I', errist father an two mUSIcal sisters) b nc Ined fami ly ,ciann d d I' , Ut had t h ' WIthds vocals an man a In.aug t himself kboar , h ' h I'f eyspitetheir s OrtiS I e, Solstice had bD e d T h h d ecome ext rem Iforming ban . ey a put On roo-rSo p f ey Successful asper h ' er ormance' h anths and though t ey snll played locally w SIn t e previous IIrna ' ere graduall d 'all er venues to play at colleges, large pubs and I b y rawIng OUt ofsrn Il'k h cU s as wllognised hal s l e t e Venue and the M ',e as nationallyrec , ' arquee In L dheatsheaf In Dunstable, WIth audiences of s I h on On Or theW evera undred '82 they could command good fees even for 10 I ' at a tIme. ByI 9 d ' ca gIgS, where th IIplayed to sell-out au lences, not only r6-2s-year-olds (the main ey Usua yalso middle-aged and older people. Their perfor nucleus) but'd h ' d I ' mances were attractinginterest OUts! e t e regIOn, an ear y In,r983 they appearedOn the COve fthe national musIC paper Sounds and had had feelers f d r 0, I I h ' rom recor companies.By mId r983, oca ent uSlasts were seeing Solstice a 'M'I K. , S 1 ton eynes'own budding superstars .The Solstice participants put a great deal of effort into their band work.They composed theu own matenal and practised two to three times a weekat a local youth club and/or recording studio which on top of their regulargigs meant almost every nIght of the week devoted to music - a heavycommitment, especially for the two in full-time employment, They hadrecorded twO cassettes locally - 'First light' and 'Pathways' - which theywere successfully selling at gigs for £r each, finding this outlet sufficient forthe 500 and 600 copies they had made of each. They were also concernedabout their publicity, arranging for band insignia like T-shirts and beginningto use an agent. So far their manager had been a friend, but now thatnegotiations with record companies were on the cards he needed experiencedhelp. They took their hoped-for success and their own musicseriously and had taken the precaution of depositing tapes of their compositionsin the bank vault in copyright envelopes. ,The band had found, however, that as their aspirations increased they snllhad financial problems. Their substantial fees were quickly eaten up byexpenses for a PA, lighting, instruments, transport costs,and such extras asbuying drinks for the unpaid 'roadies' who carried theIr extremely heavyand bulky equipment. The players had paid out for a PA and a 3- ton truckc , £ ' debt ThIS was alor tounng with the result that they were 1,5 00 In· d, d d t'ng its own PA, van, anCOmmon pattern for once a rock ban starte wan I I h' h d of pounds), p us t eOt her equipment (thousands - even tens of t ousan s - f deind even large ees rnapeople to dea l with it all, expenses mounte d huge y a , f rnbitiouslit I ' Ii ' I mmltments 0 at e Impression. The ever-increasing nanCIa co d whererok b ' I b ss ban groupS,c ands contrasted with folk, class lca or ra h technologicaltho h h re not t e sameug expenses were not negligible - t ere wepressures to constantly escalanng'costs.


Musical worlds In Milton Keynes. f Solstice members included commercial succes . hThe current alms 0 d s. t eII get a record contract an to tour and play to I )wanted above a to h I arge. h ambitions were not t e on y reason for theaudIences. But suc I · I h great. .. money and persona InVO vement t at they pcommItment In time, . . . Ut 111.I f I h band provIded an opportumty to communIcate theirThey a so e t t eown.. , can put over your ideas - if you are subtle you can get OveVIsIon: you f . r amessage rea II y w ell '.They liked to put on per ormances In keepingWIt. htheir own ideology and had been glad to play free on such occasions as'Good to be Alive Day' or the Greenham Common Peace Festival, and tosupport causes like CND or Amnesty International; they were also hOping toplay at Glastonbury and Stonehenge. Playmg In Solstice was not JUSt.matter of money or managers but also of personal reward: the chance 'to dosomething you love doing ... I can play music. It's the only thing I'm goodat. ,Synonymous were another successful local band. They resembled Solsticein their number of performances (80-100 a year), but in other ways were.contrast. They were older, with one member in his late twenties, one in hisforties, and the two others in their thirties, all in reasonably well-paid jobs (.building estimator, sales engineer, electronics technician, and field salesmanager); a ll but one had post-O level education, including two with highereducation, of whom one had a degree. The all-male line-up had the standardinstrumentation but were unusual in playing little of their own material,though they had added a few joke items like their 'bingo song' - new wordsto 'Football crazy'. In their eight-year life they had built up a repertoire ofabout 200 songs, enough for a three- to four-hout set, and were practisingonce a week at the home of one or other of the players. The members hadlong instrumental experience, partly through the band itself (for except forone guitarist, all had been with Synonymous from the start, and even he hadbeen there four years), but also ftom experience in other bands, as each hadbeen playing for 15-20 years or more. As so often most were self-taught,supplemented by a small amount of private guitar tuition and some schooldrum lessons; all three vocalists had also sung in school or church choirs aschildren.Synonymous reckoned to be an entertainment 'family' band, playinganything 'from George Formby to rock 'n' roll; we try to reach everyone andtaIlor our material for kids in working men's clubs and also do stuff fotgrannies'. This approach fitted their performance contexts for they optedfor family-based clubs or dinner dances rather than the' often youngishaudIences of pubs. To suit their entertainment image they had a uniform ofblack trousers and waistcoats with bright contrasting shirts, and usedcoloured and fading lights to add to the effect: 'we try to put on a shoWrather than Just get up and play'.For these performances they received substantial fees so that after putting,II8


k oltd popROc. he band kitty they could split the rest e IIsame tn d[ xpens es like petrol, strings and equ qua y between the fouha e Ipment but r.,[heY ransport and travelled separately they d' SInce each had. own t avol ed the hrhelr r lorry. They collectively owned the PA I' heavy cost of ad van 0 d k ' Ig ts and I dban £ 000 in all) an ept them insured Th b ea S (worthbout 5, . d . e and had ba h to their earnmgs an organisation with d'ff a usmessP roa c ' I erent me b bap h ge of electrics, agency, stage act and finance . m ers emg'n c ar 'd respectivelyI d the work, and had pal tax for the previous th so as tosprea . . , . ree years. They f d. th )'oining the MUSlcta ns Union, both for help . h . OunIt wor . bl" WIt Insurance anddvice and because It was 0 Igatory 10legcertain vena I a .' ues.nlike Solstice they did not have the ambition to bec .Ud .ome nationallyam . Their only recor lOgs were three . or four demonstr aHon . tapes overf OusIhe years and even these.were1 l'really lust for.their own en)'oyment.Theyproduced some promotlona Iterature (mamly business cards and photographs)and had been successful in local talent contests when they gOtIhrough the regIOnal heats 10 the Northampton Association of WorkingMen's Clubs and were recorded for BBC radio. But, perhaps because theywe re primarily performers rather than composers or (equally likel y) becausethey were older and already securely employed, they were not trying to'make it' in the professional world but were content with the substantialsuccess they had already achieved. They were aware of the 'fun' the bandgave them, 'the compliments at the end' and the 'ego trip' from performing,and said frankly that 'we're never likely to be famous or rich - but you feelyou've achieved something'. They were real enthusiasts about their musicmaking:even the eldest (in his forties) admitted 'I still find it fun!' and, asanother member put it, 'music is a life-time hobby - twenty-four hours aday'.These brief accounts of six local bands playing in the rock/pop traditionillustrate both the similarities and the variety ro be found in such bands.These can be further elaborated by some comments on the overall patternsand background.The predominance of male players was striking: out of 125 players in the1982-3 survey only 8 were women. In the bands in which women wereIncluded, however, they mostly took part on equal instrumental terms WIththe m h . h' ymbol' role soen rat er than merely being the front smget - t e sex s . dcastigat d b f .. . . f h b d f m the local (mlxee y emmlst entlcs. In some 0 t e an s ro . bsex) c . 1 t' mes s1l1g ers , utomprehensive schools girls were certam Y some I .othets' . . W en also sometimesInsisted on playing guitars or percussIOn. om . 1 blytook a k . d' .' al materta , notaA . ey role In the composition of the ban s ongln 11 femaleb:tdahTedder of The Crew and Sam Hill in Rare Miranda. Ah~ehw :s ~ policyad 1 b 1 f he Crew w IClOok a so een formed from the nuc eus 0 t . . 1 ded manyonly h dlences 1I1C uworn women. In addition, of course, t e au instrumentaen.M . h . rity amongen were therefore strikingly m t e maiOII9


Musical w orlds ill Miltoll Keylles. h k orld was not a totally male preserve and the fewlIsts but t e roc w I I d ' wOIl}, b ometimes took equa , even ea 109, roles. enwho were mem ers s .' bl'h on attern was the aim of ltve pu IC performance _, .Anot er comm P gigs'· " ct' or whatever the preferred term. Practically all b ''boo k lOgS, an a . . .. ands. d h ' Even the apparent exceptions Impltcltly accepted the v Iaspire to tIS. .' a Ue ofpu' f mances The young Impenal Sunset typically explained hbl lC per or· . t atthey had not yet 'got a set together' and did not want to go on stage 'tilleverything is perfect', while Malachi felt they must not perform before theywere good enough 'because of the sceptiCiSm people have of reggae'. A fewothers had performed in the past but were not domg so for the momebecause of temporary problems like having just recruited a new member an~wanting to rehearse further first.Despite this general emphasis on live performances, the number actuallyput on varied greatly from band to band. Of the 33 local bands questioned aquarter had put on no public performances at all in the previous year, nearlyhalf had done 6 or fewer, nearly a quarter between 9 and 35 (mostly at thelower end of that range) and just under a fifth 50 - IS0 a year. The ultimateaim might be the same, but for the basic functioning of the bands there was avast difference between a group putting on two or three gigs a weekthroughout the year and one only doing one or two in the whole 12 months.The venues also differed. By far the most common were pubs and youthclubs in or near Milton Keynes. Night clubs and colleges were favoured bysome bands; also working men's clubs, other social clubs, and open airperformances. Private occasions like weddings or parties provided anotheropportunity for band performance (often unpaid) - not perhaps the normalimage of a rock band's activities, but one performance setting for at least athird of the bands. The audience numbers varied with venues. The bigLondon clubs or, as with one band, American air bases could have audienceswell into the hundreds and about half the bands said they had had audiencesof ISO or more. Equally common, though, and for some bands the norm,were the smaller numbers typical of local pubs and youth clubs (usually 40-100), while roO-ISO was characteristic of local social clubs. The differencesin audiences were not just in numbers, for the familiar local audience withItS core of personal Supporters contrasted with the inevitably more impersonalatmosphere of larger, more distant venues to which the mostsuccessful local bands sometimes travelled.Bands liked to get paid, but the amount varied greatly. Bands at local pubsgot around £25,. sometimes plus beer, and at youth clubs half the doortaklOgs. The social clubs, including political and working men's clubs, paid:ther mote. (perhaps £75-£100, rarely up to £15 0 ) but were correspondingl:ore select1ve 10 who they invited, while the infrequent fees of over £lh 5were only from din d b all t ener ances and American air bases. Just a out .b an d s h ad also d f . . f haVingone ree gigs. ThiS was often just for the pleasure 0120


k and popROc, valuable for bands finding it hard 'dlence, ' I'k P to get paid b k,o,u I competition I e at Archer's Rock C ,00 Ings, Or ta loca f f ' d h' ontest In 8 b aeoter d free out a n en s Ip and for a rang f h ' 19 2; Ut bandslaye ' h eo c amabl,Iso,PnaI Abortion Campaign, t e local CND feSUva' Iat th pe causes - theNa(l0lkl nd Islands Fund, or local hospitals or hand' e eace PagodaFa a ' Icapped ch 'ld 't h e f m the number of unpaid appearances d f I ren, It wasar rO an rOm thC I e , ' n that fees did not cover costs that theree commondmlsslo was more t 'a f ances than the payment. a putting oner orm I .P Th eS e various patterns re atlng to . gender, performa nces, venues and fwerenot unexpected, but they did turn.out to bemore complex thaneesapPeared at first and gave moreIopportunity for experime d "nt an vanattont ome of the more genera comments on rock bandshan. hS mig t suggest Inso other respects there was even more variety some of 'me . . ,It somew 'h atsurprising in view of many Widely held expectations about rock bands.se some of these assumptIons are so influential indeedBecau . . .. , ,somettmes 'unquestioned, It IS worth diverting to discuss them briefly.Some arise from the succession of scholarly writings on and around thesubject of popular music in general and rock and pop in particular. Theinfluential mass culture theorists, for example, such as Adorno - strengthenedfrom a somewhat different viewpoint by Leavis and his followerssawpopular music as essentially ruled by the market-place, soporific andnon· artistic, delivered by non-creative and commercialised performers topassive and brain-washed mass audiences.' This is still one common view byoutsiders of rock music - but, as will be clear from the account here, onethat, apart from any other queries, it is not easy ro recognise in the activeamateur composers and performers in the Milton Keynes local bands. Laterviews have modified without totally dismissing these 'mass society' theories.Some Marxist writers have depicted popular music as almost totallydominated by a capitalist power elite. 'Pop music is produced withincapitalist modes of production' is one such statement (Jones 197 2 , p. 13 0 ),while Charles Parker urges that 'pop is a master tool of social control by aruling class' in which 'the illusion of rock-protest has been carefullySUstained by a sort of shadow-boxing between the rulers and the ruled,~uthority and the young' (1975, p. 139)' Others have stressed the activec~ltural struggle' they see going on in the sphere of rock and pop muSIC,With th . h . d'c I claims againste workmg class struggling to assert t elf own ra I a . I' bthe ea ' I' h'l h ery influentta supita1st order (for instance Laing 1985),cultu Iw Ie revhi' or 'counterracuhu •theorists' speak of a 'working-class.yout. h'cu.turew rock IS,seen aste expressed largely through rock muSIC -In t IS vieOne formafworking-class youth proteSt.'ali sed andO ne p bl b h' very genetPole . ro em about such analyses has een t elf d more empitinllealt . I d b cooler an 'Cally bone - only recently being rep ace Y . 86) - and theltased d' b 8 HustWltt 19Stu les (such as Frith 1981 , 19 3, 121


k a"d pop~oc , valuable for bands finding it hard 'dlence, " I'k to get p3ld b k",o,u I I campen non I e Pat Archer's Rock C "00 Ings, Or toa Dca f f ' d h' ontest 10 1 8 b,oler d free out a nen s Ip and for a ran f h ' 9 2; Ut bandslaye ' h ge a c anrablalso P I Abortion Campaign, t e local eND fest ' I e causes - the'DnaIva at the PNat! Ikla ndIslands Fund, or local hospitals or hand' d eace PagodaFa f ' Icappe child 'I h e f m the number a unpaid appearances d f reno It wasr ro an rom thc I ea, ' n that fees did not cover costs that theree commond !1l ISSlo was more to 'a s than the payment, pUtllng Onedormance ,p Th eS e various patterns relating to .' gender perform ances, venues and feot unexpected, but they did turn out to beeswere n . mOre complex thanappeared ar first and gave moreIopportumty for experimentandvanallon"I ome of the more genera comments on rock bands m' hhan S Ig t suggest Insom. other respects there was even more variety some of 'e . ,It Somew 'h atsurprising in view of many Widely held expectations about rock bands,Because some of these assumptions are so influential, indeed sometimesunquestioned, it IS worth diverting to diSCUSS them briefly,Some arise from the succession of scholarly writings on and around thesubject of popular music in general and rock and pop in particular, TheinAuential mass culture theorists, for example, such as Adorno - streng­Ihened from a somewhat different viewpoint by Leavis and his followerssawpopular music as essentially ruled by the market-place, soporific andnon· artistic, delivered by non-creative and commercialised performers topassive and brain-washed mass audiences.- This is still one common view byoutsiders of rock music - but, as will be clear from the account here, oneIhat, apart from any other queries, it is not easy ro recognise in the active,mateur composers and performers in the Milton Keynes local bands, Laterviews have modified without totally dismissing these 'mass society' theories.Some Marxist writers have depicted popular music as almost totallydominated by a capitalist power elite. 'Pop music is produced withincapitalist modes of production' is one such statement (Jones 197 2 , p. 13 0 ),while Charles Parker urges that 'pop is a master tool of social control by aruling class' in which 'the illusion of rock-protest has been carefullySustained by a sort of shadow-boxing between the rulers and the ruled,~Uthority and the young' (1975, p. 139)' Others have stressed the ~~;~cecultural struggle' they see going on in the sphere of rock and pop "With th ' h ' d' al claims agams te working class struggling to assert t elt own ra IC , I' bt he ca' I' h'l hey influen na su -Pita 1st order (for instance Laing 1985), w let e v rcultu I hhie' or 'counterrat eorists' speak of a 'working-class yout cu rur ,CUItUte' ' ' h' view rock IS seen asexpressed largely through rock musIC - In t ISOneoform f0 working-class youth protest.' , alised andPol ne, problem about such analyses has been thelt very gd enerempiriemleal I d b ooler an more ,Cally b tone - only recently being rep ace Y c , 86) - and rheltased studies (such as Frith 1981b, 1983, HustWltt 19121


. I orlds in Milton KeynesMustCa w ... h mass media of televIsIon and the record' .rratlOn on t e . d ' Ing Indconcen h work of professIOnal an nationally know b USlryh' h ropagate ten and 'w IC P 'f I'd 'n other respects, they cannot necessarily be e s. Ash even I va I IXPeq dsuc , h teur grass-rootS local performers and rheir f e toI to t e amaace-to fappy h b)'ect of this volume. Nevertheless this sue . - a"audIences - t e su A' d cesSIon· . _ nO doubt both re ectlng an moulding som ofacademIc VIews d ' . e of h· I isdom of their times - has ha ItS InAuence on t econventtona W . d . comma· about the nature of rock musIc an ItS exponents an ' I fl nassumptIOnS . . .. ' n uenceI 'th its effect on the musIcIans and thelt audIences themselves Tha so WI . f . . M'I . Ush emed to be a co mmon senes 0 Images In I ton Keynes e[ ere se . , ncoun.tered among people both inside and outSIde the rock world in general, thaI(variousl y) envisaged rock/pop as the protest mUSIC of the Oppressed, asyouth music (particularly amongst working-class youth), as the preserve ofunder-privileged, uneducated and unemployed working-class drop-OUtsand (this last mainly by outsiders) as the kind of music (or non-music) whichwas essentially passive and derivative from the mass media, with noindividual creativity - views clearly connected to the various academicanalyses just quoted. Such views do not, of coutse, hang together into acoherent whole, and many of the musicians themselves were clear thatcertain aspects did not apply ro their own practice. Nevertheless localparticipants and observers were still ro some extent affected by this series ofassumptions and were prepared from time ro time to make effective use ofsuch images in their own publicity.How true were any or all of these varied assumptions about rhe nature oftock/pop music and its exponents?One common - and not too contentious - view of rock is to regard it aspart of 'youth culture(s)' or at any rate as 'the music of youth' (Frith 1978,p. 19, Grossman 1976, pp. 14I- 2). How true was this of the rock worldin Milton Keynes in the early I980s?The evidence from the rock bands themselves certainly lends somesupport to this, but it was far from the whole truth. There was certainlygreat enthusiasm for particular bands among many young people, but'youth culture' was not monolithic. Young people were not just differentiatedby being 'young' but also sub-divided by age, interests, musicalpreferences, family background, locality and a whole range of other factors.It was true that teenagers were widely influenced by the popular muSICculture propagated in broadcasts, newspapers, recordings and local chaInshops such as Virgin. But seen in terms of the active local participantS, rhepIcture looked muchmored'Ivers I'fied. A large proportion of bandmemberswere between I6 d '11 havean 2I, as were many of their audiences but - as WIappearde~rom the earlier examples _ these were individu;ls and groupS \VIr Imany 'llerent·. sa rl )1. h Interests, mUSIcal tastes and backgrounds, not neces fWIt a great deal of sym h f ' "d f\Va y aI22pat y or, or Interest in , each other s leas 0. h


kand popROc d .r neeessarily toO concernekwith each other'sages F hlife a pie locally were een on other pursu· b . un ermore 0g peho . ItS, oth h f ' t eryouo. I brass bands, operanc) and such ... at er arms of 01 .I sSlca , .' aCtiVities as d USIC(c 3 aphY. Judged In relanon to young pea I ' . rama, SPOrts Orhotogr h ··1 d ·· pesacnveco ·P Keynes t e pnvi ege posmon sometim mmltments inMilton . , hi' · es assumed for k .. ting either yout cu ture tn general a . roc muSIC asns tltU " r a senes of d·ffCO h'sub-cultures or counter-cultures' looks m I.k I erentiatedou t. d. are I e a wishf I .Y ommerclal recor tng outlets or the acade . h . u creattonof teehmlc t eonsts th. tion of actual grass-roots practice an an exactdesetlP ..g e did , of course, somenmes h playa part. In the te enageA b ands, age waarticular concern, so t at young players ad .. f So P .. vemsmg or co-bandf bers commonly speCified a parncular age as one req . ,111e!ll Id ' utrement: Drumerwanted for 16-year a M.O.R. band or 'Drummer . h ..111 • h h ·· WIS es to Jam ora r!ll a band with at er ent uSlasnc . players 17 to 19 years on I' y. L oya I ty byf,...


. M 'Iton KeynesM. I worlds tn IUSl c asivel y to either teenagers or young people unded lub ds playe exc . d ' h rll •an I k layers and their au lences went, t erefore g . " Sf r as the loca roC p 'h' d . ' eneralia . b ock music and yout nee some senous qual 'fi Sedequations etween r .' I ' I' . I callaIe took an active part 10 p aymg or IStenlng to I' 0;not all young peop.Ive rOckII klayers and audiences young. ,nor were a roC P .A h lar view of rock musIC - and one also held by a numbnot er popu . . . I ' er of·s the one that associates It parncu arly with uneducatedI oca I peop Ie - I . ". andlor unemployed youngsters. This stereotype too) IS worth investigating.Were local rock players mainl y unem ployed. Or, a lternatively, Workingoutside the formal economy? O n the basIs of the I9 82 / 3 Interviews withthirty-three bands, supplemented by other local observation, the answer toboth questions was no. Most local players d id not rely on the band as theirmain source o f livel ihood , if for no other reason than that three-quartersfound that fees did not cover their expenses. Of band members who gavedetails nearly two-thirds were in jo bs, mostly full-time, under a third saidthat the band was their only employment, a nd the remainder were at schoolor college. Formal jobs clearly did not stop people taking an enthusiasticpart in live rock music, and in Milton Keynes at any rate rock players werenot mainly unemployed.It was interesting, furthermo re, ro note the variety of occupations. Just tomention some of these: train driver, clerk, senio r O . & M. officer, salesengineer, tutor on Youth Opportunities scheme, part-time violin teacher,barman, dental equipment engineer, part-time PE instructor, carpenter,forklift driver, car park supervisor, farm wo rker (on father's farm), shopworkers, apprentice plasterer, telephone engineer, facrory worker, hairdresser,trainee telecommunications officer, upholsterer, graphic designer,warehouseman, buyer, trainee manager, and several schoolteachers. Even asummary list raises questions about the common stereotype of rockmusicians as predominantly unqualified or non-conformist individuals onthe edges of society.For educational background the picture was again mixed. Of those bandmembers who gave details, about two-thirds had ended full-time educationat the minimum age, a pattern fitting one stereotype of rock musicians.However, the other third had stayed longer, several going on to highereducation. Another way of looking at this was their educational achievements.Thirteen out of 11.5 were still at school or college, and of rhe res r halfor more held some formal educational qualification:' thus many local rockplayers did indeed have little further educational experience, but once aga lOthe .overall finding did not fit the stereotype of rock musicians as whollY ~~typICally at the lower end of the population in educational terms; indeed, tfact that abo ut half held CSEs or (more often) above meant that overall th ~yYwere educationally northatdI'fferent from the average population.-cer ralO . hnot markedly lower Th . hose Wlr. ere was no eVIdence, furthermo re, rhar r


Musical worlds in Milton Keynesd I d exclusively to either teenagers or young people undeban s P aye ' d' h r ~5 •I Ik players and theIr au lences went, t erefore g , " Sfar as the oca roc , h' d " eneralis' b rock music and yout nee some serIOUs qual'fi ,edequations etween " I ' " I calla ,II eople took an active part 10 p aymg or Itstemng to Ii n,not a young p , Ve rockII rock players and audIences young, ,nor were a ,A not h er p opular view of rock musIC,'- and one also held,by a nUmber ofI oca I peop Ie - I 'S the one that associates,It particularly",WIth uneducatedandlor unemployed youngsters, ThIS stereotype too IS worth InveStigating,Were local rock players mainly unemployed? O r, alternatively, Workingoutside the fo rm al economy? O n the baSIS of the I982/3 Interviews Withthirty-three bands, supplemented by other local observation, the answer toboth questions was no, Most local players dId not rely on the band as theirmain source of livelihood, if for no other reason than that three-quanersfound that fees did not cover their expenses. Of band members who gavedetails nearly two-thirds were in jobs, mostl y full-time, under a third saidthat the band was their only employment, and the remainder were at schoolor college. Formal jobs clearly did not stop people taking an enthusiasticpart in live rock music, and in Milton Keynes at any rate rock players werenot mainly unemployed.It was interesting, furthermore, to note the variety of occupations. Just tomention some of these: train driver, clerk, senior O . & M. officer, salesengineer, tutor on Youth Opportunities scheme, part-time violin teacher,barman, dental equipment engineer, part-time PE instructor, carpenter,forklift driver, car park supervisor, farm worker (on father's farm ), shopworkers, apprentice plasterer, telephone engineer, factory worker, hairdresser,trainee telecommunications officer, upholsterer, graphic designer,warehouseman, buyer, trainee manager, and several schoolteachers. Even asummary list raises questions about the common stereotype of rockmusicians as predominantly unqualified or non-conformist individuals onthe edges of society.For educational background the picture was again mixed. Of those bandmembers who gave details, about two-thirds had ended full-time educationat the minimum age, a pattern fitting one stereotype of rock musicians.However, the other third had stayed longer, several going on to highereducatIon. Another way of looking at this was their educational achieve·ments. Thirteen out of I25 were still at school or college, and of the rest hal:or more held some formal educational qualification:' thus many local roCplayers did indeed have little further educational experience but once againthe,overall findIng' d'dI notfit the stereotype of rock musicians'asholly orW htYPIcally at the lower end f hi " , .' deed, t ef h bOt e popu anon In educatIonal terms, 10 I heyacrr d at a out half held CSEs Or (more often) above meant that overal t, Iywere e ucanonally nth d'ff ' certaIn0 t at I erent from the average population - 'thnot mar k edly lower Th,hose WI. ere was no eVIdence, furrhermore, that t


k "tid pop~o c d tion had found this a disincentive fuca . or rock I .igher e rne of the most mfluential local ro k paYIng: indeed hh d d SO emus' . ,t ey10clu e p e Lockwood or Ian Leech. lClans such as A .Jder et Oltafev 'h influential assumption is that rock b d, or er . fi an s expr h1'0 outh more speci cally of working cl ess t e protest ofbeliiouS y , - ass youth. Ho fre ,,'Ico nKeynes rock players - or, at any rate f h w ar was thisof 1,,1 . ,0 t ose whSO we have seen, qUite a proportion were I 0 were young(for, asscarce Y classifiable as, ourh')? . . .Y h quick answer IS scarcely surpnsmg' band .T e 'bl' b . . s vaned. Somnly seen as a pro em y outsiders, and they and/ h ' e. werecerral . I d' fi h or t elr audlenc'd metirnes get mvo ve 10 g ts. These bands d'd I . esdl so , b d' h . I not a ways ViewIselves as protest an s, owever, even If their p t' I fh e m f II . ar ICU ar Orm ofviour dress or 0 owers were seen thiS way Scream d h F'beha '. . antelD,furexample, were classified by local pubs and new papers as 'punk' and'skinhead' trouble-makers; but for themIthe'music and fun ofpIaymg.seemed to matter more t h an any po I··mca or anti-authority stance. Similarly,motor bike riders with their nOIsy machmes and faceless get-up and the pubwhere they congregated to hear their favoured heavy rock seemed tooutsiders like a threat from non-disciplined hooligans. Yet it looked ratherdifferent from their viewpoint as well as that of their local publican, theirown followers and 'the motor bikers' mum'. Nor were they all in their teensor early twenties (in fact they ranged from twenties to late thirties). Andtheir actions in organising a rock concert to buy a computer-aided device fora local handicapped child, then going to the school to present it, hardly fitwith the general image of 'heavy rock addicts'. To interprettheir activities interms of 'youth revolt' or 'working-class protest' just because of theiroutward appearance or favoured genre of music would be very oversimplified.In contrast, a small number of bands did label themselves as in some wayopposed to authority, building on the common 'protest' image. Band namesoften indicated an implicit or explicit rejection of certain values that otherInfluential people held to be important. Exit Stance was one clear example.The n . ' 11 1 f the players - all 10arne needs some explanation. Ongma Y severa 0 . dth . k M' t a banelt mid to late teens _ had played together as Ethni lOon y, . dcateri f ' b left the remam erng or punk purists' and when twO mem ersf If orm d ' h some success ue a new band called Fuck Authority. T ey gave d nt co theP erorm f. oldlea erwe. ances but ran into trouble when their n-year . k . h the bandrn aln sh . 1 k 1 h r Jac et wttna . Oppmg centre on a Saturday in a b ac eat e. called andme tn th . b k the pohce werehe ree-mch-high white letters on the ac ; . . . I charge ofWas'c t the Inlnabeh . arrested. At the local Magistrates our . hd n bur he wasaVIOur l"k I Wit raW, dbound t e y to lead to a breach of the peace was d hange the bannamDVer andhad to agree to remove the s1ogan anfch . r old 'srance',e. The h losS 0 t elnew name, Exit Stance, alluded to t e I~5


Musical worlds in Milton Keynesbut also. h · had some positive connotations (when said qu kl111 t elr eyes . Ie yd d I·k 'Existence'). This protest stance came out In their beh Itsoun e I e I h h d fi a VIOUrd I Pea ranee roo and was a so ow t ey e ned thems Ian persona ap h d eVesh ·· 'to get over a message. anarc y an peace. We're a p .T elt aim was . d • d . roteStb an d agams. t the system'.social injusttces ... We on.t.a It to please peaPIC1if they don't like it. rough. If we did what people Itke It would be crap ... Weh ave never c· omproml·sed· I·t wi ll work because we..want It to work'"W.erepacifist drunkards who don't sniff glue. We belteve 111love and ana rchy.We're a very individual band; we have different personal bclt efs. We believein life. not death ...• This 'protest' was of a very II1dlVtdual kind. thereforebased on specific ideals rather than a general or class-conscious rejection ofthe prevailing social order.Reacting against parental control and ideals and stressing the oPPOrtuni.ties for self-achievement was perhaps another aspect. but it would be hastyto rake this as a central element in Exit Stance. For these youthful playerswere in fact (ollowing in their parents' musical footsreps rather thanrejecting them. Like others too. they were not as alienated in their everydaylives as might appear from rheir overt philosophy. Of the four Exit Stanceplayers, the I7-year old leader lived at home with his father, a special-schoolheadmaster and himself a well-known local musician; another supportedhimself from part-time jobs; a third worked in the post office; while thedrummer - himself rhe son of a jazz-drummer - worked as a carpenter. Theidea of protest expressed in their original name was one aspect of theirviews, but so too was the secondary theme in their new name - 'Existence' ­epitomised in their idealistic views of 'love and peace - life, not death'. andin their insistence that 'we must live OU[ own lives and control our owndestiny', wirh the band as a medium 'to work things out for yourself.Other local bands too tried to project a rebellious image. Each had theirown particular philosophy and problems, though. One example was theheavy metal band SNG (short for 'Sodom and Gomorrah', which grew outof Renegade, so named 'because we were!'). Their aims were not reallypolitical protest but to make money and be listened ro: 'to make music thatpeople appreciate'. Even their title was more a musical than politicalgesture: 'Renegade' because 'we refused to play cover versions' (i.e. theywouldn't perform others' compositions, only their own). Seditious Impulsewas another local band regarded as 'punk', made up of four players in thelflate teens supported by a strong contingent of 50-7 0'skinheads' whofollowed them about. They were banned from several local pubs and youthclubs,. and had also been blamed - whether correctly or not _ for a raclS:graffitt campaign 111 Bletchley and Wolverton. They explained their name areferring to 'sedition - arms against the state' but said their aims weremainly 'lots of birds... a good Iaugha good PiSS-UP'.seell1g. IotS af placesd . b· , ,.eCtan ... gettll1g tg - really rich'. The aggressive image they liked to pro)126


-IICitbOd!9I'ie"(1fl.ock a"d pOphrough well in their posed photograph (fim eS I h f ' gure '9( ))ca Ihough, t ey were con ormlSt, All h d I fe, In olheran textS, d a e t school w hexam successes an were currently In - b _ ( It at le3>tame e BR h' I 10 s machinists h useman/barman, ve IC e builder at I ' painter,ware 0 .) Cd' east {\\'o with C-Id qualifications, ompare to some of the Itl' andGUI S d I 'I " I tr contemporan - hbe considere re atlve y PrIVI eged: but they stili d es t el'cO U Id ff T' I wante the bandtext for letting 0 steam, YP,ca Shit is a final exampl f as acon b d Th' eo an apparemlann'_ authority"an, IShwasda teenage"and fairlyInexpenenced-bandyp ay ing 'punk musIC (as t , ey " escrIbed It), Their name h a d come f rom thelas layer'S comment: sitting outside the shops he sa th Ib S P.' I ,. w at peop e weregl. -"I'ng him disgusted ooks, ., so thought TYPical shit' . The'l r specta - I Interestwas in the opportunity to get a message across to people' -d' II h ' h'l atltSI c mercialla b e I s, espeCia y t etr p I osophy . of 'making a sta n d agamsr rom h evay things are and the way people hve. We're all pacifists ... werea 'II' vegetarian, into animals' rights ,., it's good fun - a good thing.'These vario~s bands were indeed questioning certain values and socialarrangements - though perhaps in a less radical form than appeared on thesUlface _ but most bands did not seem to see protest as in any sense theirmain purpose, even though they were keen to express their own personalviews through their music, Again and again they stressed the comradeship ofplaying together in a band, the great feel of being on stage, 'giving peoplepleasure and excitement', self-expression, an outlet for their energy andexpertise, making people think about their views and their music, gettingsome public recognition and, for some but not all, one day becomingplofessional musicians, When they did criticise the current situation, thecriticism was directed against specific points and values rather than generalisedprotest,The common image identifying rock music with protest - more especiallywith 'youth' and/or 'working-class' protest - was thus not generally borneout by this study, It may have been true of rock bands in other places ortimes (though I suggest that this always needs testing against the detatledevidence on the ground), but certainly among Milton Keynes bands mostgroups had other more important preoccupations and even the mtnOnty thatdid nOt often also had other interests and involvements, To select out lustthis ( , h h most slgmficantvery vaned) 'protest' element as some OW tellcharacteristic even of those bands let alone of rock bands genera y,dow I ' - Itimately reduction·, np ays their many other interesting features In an u1St It and h mislead' 109 way, , d tl both in outlooks ould be clear by now that rock bands vane grea Y h - erhapSandIn h h ' c and t at pt e type and organisation of t elr mUSI ,d backunexpedl d'fferent ages ancte y _ their members came from many I Id')g rounds C' '" k f a 'rock wo r '"'h ' lYen thiS IS It reasonable ro spea 0 , d'd present a1 e a' d R k musIC Inswer has to be both yes an no, OC


IdM,{Wf/ Keyf/esM "sical wor s IfI.d ·cene. There were not the overall nation I. I I variegate S a orgpartlcu ar Y I. k.d "ssoc13tions to be found Ill, \ay, the cla< . an"a.. f mally In e "·'Slcal btlons or or . (to a degree) the folk or country and WCM ' ra'lb d ratlc or even ern Wo Ian ,ope , more of indIVIdual forays IIlto vanous secro r dl.Th structure wasrs of he h ny hierarchIcal or overarchlllg system, and ba d t ,market-place t an a d b h . n S We. . II autonomouS, separate y t CIr own particular cha r,charactenstlca Y k d . I racter. .. d e type of music, outloo an SOCiaIStlCSnetworks. ThIII regar to ag , . ey We,'1 . touch with other bands particularly those In differe 'not necessan Y Ill . . . nt ag,ranges, performance cirCUIts or types of musIC . a~d whe~ they dId hear eachother'S performances sometimes regarded them ~Ith Susp,c'on. FUrthermo'emost rock playe rs played in one group at any time - a contrast to classicaiand jazz players - and thus were not ImmedIately drawn Into a wider mUsicalworld beyond their own band. On the other hand, the flU Id,ty of rock bandsmeant that most players had belonged to several groups successively (0'would do so in the future), some over a period of 20 or 25 years.The relative lack of knowledge about other players in the local area wasmore marked than in the more hierarchically organised musical worlds, butwas not diffe rent in ki nd. Even in the relatively tightly organised classicalworld by no mea ns all musicians we re personally acquainted, even th oughsome leading personalities were widely known. Not so very different in therock world: within particular forms at least (p unk, say) the musicians kneweach oth er, and certain individuals and bands were widely known. JeffDonert, for example, the middle-aged chief ca r-park attendant in CentralMilton Keynes - a life-long musician, leader of the Ki ngs ize Keen Band, andlocal musical entrepreneur - was constantly mentioned, often with some·what hostile envy as well as admiration, and the names of DancingCounterparts (a long-established 'punk/altern ative dance' band of players intheir twenties) and 'Ferret' (the vocalist in Seditious Impulse) were alsoalways cropping up.Another shared characteristic was the set of conventions about playingand learning. The perceptions of both audiences and players were to ameasure trained in rock performance idioms, further extended and revali·dated by the coverage in the mass media, so that they could recognise withsome appreciation the playing of other bands and the finer points of style. Asone guitarist put it, to outsiders rock playing is ·'quite a noise', but insiderscan.realise what is happening, which things are difficult to do, and what hesbehllld a particular performance. As far as learning went it was possible totake up an instrument, teach oneself, and join a rock band almost at once.One-fifth of the players in local bands had been teaching themselves for ayear or less, a SItuation facilitated by the standard range of instruments.once players had mast d f b · .·ff on rheere a ew aSlc chords on the gUItar or n s ddrum, supplemented by self-learnt vocal skills, combining into a banbecame feasIble Th · d WIth ItS. e COntrast WIth the classical learning mo e128


Rock and pophy graded approach and wide range of instrlengr . uments was"-he parrern was once agam a complex and I ' a very markedone. I I h d . re attve one h'ng was clear y t e ommant mode reinf db' ow ever. Selflearnl. ' orce y th.. g from the expenence of band playing but th e mutual helpartSln ' ere was also b. rl'ty of players (about one-third) who had Ie . a su stantialIruno arnt - or mit" II Imore formal lessons at school, at work f . la y earntromf . , or rom pnvate teachflations, colleagues or nends; a few had attended th I I d ers,re h II . h h e oca rum schoolrun by Mars a s musIc s op t rough the seventies, andonehad gone tomusic college.The same complexity. happlied to the instruments.The standardcombln.arion was gUItars (r ythm and lead),.bass guitar'and drums, toget h' er withvocals,7 but there were also occasIOnal variations like vl'ol'10, saxop h oneharmonica, congas and . bongos, sometimes supplemented b y f' rlenson d 'other instruments (vIOla and flutes with Rare Miranda, for example). Thisrange, furthermore, dId not encompass the full musical expertise of bandmembers, for several could play other instruments as well, including piano,brass, violin, cello, banjo~ mouth organ, harmonica and mandolin: a spreadof instruments whIch mIght be seen as fitting as readily into the folk orclassical as the rock music worlds.Perhaps the most prominent single characteristic of the preoccupations ofrock players in Milton Keynes - apart from their variety - was their interestin expressing their own views and personality through music-making: astress on individuality and artistic creation which accords ill with the masstheorists' delineation of popular music. This sense of individual achievementand creativity was particularly marked in rock bands. One need onlyrecall the widespread emphasis on self-teaching for learning their instruments;the small-scale and independent form of rock groups, necessarily selfreliantand outside the formal organisation pattern typical of many othermusical (and non-musical) groupings; the well-founded expectation thateven a young musician just starting could play effectively with friends andperform in public; the parallel expectation that someone who had beenplaying for 20 or 25 years could still- without form-filling or permissionsfindtwo or three like-minded people with whom to play for enjoyment tohimself and others. There were certainly constraints for a band wantingexpensive equipment, and finding venues for public performance needednegotiation; but to balance this their independence of large-scale orgamsalionor numbers meant that ba~ds could be set up on the initiative of lusttwo or three mdlviduals. Most of all, the constant emphasis on composlIldgIhei I ' a clea rly recogr Own ongmal matertal (sec chapter [,) g.wc p mse.1) as . 'chan I ' . I d verbal inSIghts III ane III which to express theIr own musl'., an. IIrccog . . , twas typlca Y putnlsed form _ 'to do or die WIth our oll'n mUSIC, as I I I Iby S . d b t the on y ocatatlc Blue (figure I9 (d )) . Rock players were no ou t no . , wnmUSIC . e 'creatlng one s 0lans to relish the opportunity for III some sens129


. I worlds in Milton KeynesMuslca. . to over-arching bureaucracy or 'mass soc·Id' in opPOSttlO n .. tety' Bwar. deed senses ttl whIch for rock players - and b· UIhaps there were to d a aVeper I ers - the currently understoo conventions m d allfor the younger P ay . . a e up. Id· which they found a UnIque opportunIty for p aspecIal war to . . ersonalex ression and creatIvity.PTh . t·on of rock players was thus a complex and heterogeneouesttual .... d' sOned here individuals were particIpating to many Ifferent sett·an one w . d. . IngsC the vI·ews of some of the earher aca emlc theortsts there · .ontrary toIS noone single profile of 'the rock musician' or of the role and background ofrock/ pop music. But there were enough charactertstlc features of live rockmusic in Milton Keynes to speak of the players - and at a furthet temOVcheir audiences - as to a degree forming part of a wider rock world than jus:the individualised bands which they supported. The very autonomy andindependence of the bands was itself an accepted feature of this worldtogether with their often ephemeral nature leading to changing camhi:nations and re-combinations of the local players. So too was the concept andpractice of being a rock band member: despite all other differences inbackground and musical style, there were accepted social and musical roleswhich individuals could take up and could recognise in others. It meantsomething predictable in terms of playing, practising and performing whensomeone said 'let's form a band' or inserted one of the many small ads forpotential co-players in local newspapers. The accepted 'circuits' of localyouth clubs and pubs, and (for the more successful) of social clubs and moredistant venues, were common knowledge, even if in practice only experiencedfrom time to time by any given band, as were the recognisedconventions of instrumentation, performance and audience behaviourwithina range, anyway - and the great emphasis on original material.Acceptance of variation and experiment made this rock world a differen·tiated one; but that in itself, like the competition or conflict betweendiffering bands each with their own followings, can be seen as yet anotheraccepted characteristic of rock playing, one which to a degree distinguishedit from other musical worlds in Milton Keynes.In conclusion, it must be clear from the examples _ few among man),­that local rock players were extremely varied in their beliefs and backgrounds,and like any other groups had their quarrels and ptoblems as wellas successes.' Nevertheless, a sense of personal pride and achievement wasone striking feature that seemed to run through all these bands. It was insuch bands that their members felt they could really make some individualmark both now at the local level and, perhaps, more widely in the fllture.lncontrast to the hierarchies and insecurities of school work or the SOC13 1servICes. 'playing in a bandprOVI·deda med ·Illm where players' Id vpressCOli e,their own personal aesthetic vision and through their music "chieve a senseof controlling their Own val d · d . .ues, estlllY an self-Identity.130IIII,


•In's study has tried to uncover the system that lies b h' dTh I'd' e In the p ,'c-making 10 a mo ern Enghsh town. Give h ' raCllces ofmUSI n t e eXistence f h'nderlying structure, and the way that local music invol' ,0 t ISU . h I" h " ves ItS practitioner, the locality t ey Ive 10 -In , dt e extensIve mteractions d'ISCussed'sIn the lastchapter the many-sIde work necessary for the enactment f '). '. 0 mUSIC, and thelocal membershIps and.settmgs deSCrIbed.earlier - one wouId h ft ere oreexpect this far-reachIOg system to have Implications for the way people livetogether locally, all the more so because local music is a matter of activecollective practice rather than just passive mass-controlled consumption orthe solitary contemplation of musical works. This expectation was indeedfulfilled, though not always in quite the ways I had anticipated, Contrary tomany assumptions, the practice of local music turns out to be relevant forcenrral questions about life in urban industrial society. It makes a difference,for example, to one's assessment of the significance or otherwise of'community', or 'class', of how people's lives are ordered in space and timewithin a modern urban setting, and of the processes of continuity andchange by which our culture is both maintained and developed. ,Many commentators have given the impression that local amateur muSICis nowadays of little significance: if not 'dying out', then the concern of onlya II ' , 'I ' us concerns. So onesma minorIty, or, at best, merely margIOa to seno ,, . h more general quenesP re I· ImInary question to touch on before turnIOg to t e'Ii h ,d from the MI tonS t e scale of local music What conclusIOns can we raw ,K, . , ' h as to draw seno uSeynes eVidence? Were the musical practItIoners suc , I' d 'norityatt ' , II or speCla Ise mIentiOn In terms of their numbers, or only a smaWah little impact on the local life around them?en more soIt d' ' ' measure - evWas Ifficult to reach any exact quantItatIve 'd' 'ons can perhapst h an I h d I' ' ry III Ican fl. a first supposed. Some rough pre Imina 'd numbers aIJ( att k n or esnmate Iernpted. Multiplyin" out from the now unt of over apocallb ., k' some aceo , . nIPin Y ased mUSIC groups and clubs and [3 109 h'ld en ."tively pra cnsl g&rnernbersh'Ip suggests that those aduIts and c I r197•


The significance of local musicas players or singers ran to several thousand individuals (possibl6,000 and 7,000). This number looked not unreasonable from th~ betweenlistings I drew up of named mdlvlduals engaged in music _ i (partIal).e. maybepet cent of the population.' That these figures were not wildly Hiexagger(and might even be an un d er-estimate) was suggested by Other . ated· quantnat'measures: for example t he 1,000 or so mstrumental classical ex . . lVe. I h amInatloheld every year m loca centres, t e 3,000 plus entrants to the Milton K nsFestival of Arts in the mid 1980s (80 per cent of them 'local') th eYnes' . I' ,emanysc hi 00 musIcal events mvo vmg 100 or more performers (chaptenS). ,or~1985 gran d 21St annIversary concert by the orchestras wind band. . . ' sandchOIrS based at the North Bucks MusIC Centre m Bletchley, at which therewere abour 400 performers,' mainly from the under-20s and a cap .. . . . 'acnyaudIence whICh (mcludmg performers) totalled over 1,500. I might add too -an observation rather than evidence - that I have practically never men.tioned in informal conversation that I was studying local music to anyoneeither in Milton Keynes or elsewhere without getting the (usually unsoli.cited) response that either they themselves or some close relative or friendwere actively engaged in music in such and such a way.But the survey counting of heads or any conclusion claiming such andsuch a percentage participating in music would be misleading. For one thingit gives an atomistic and over-individualised picture of the essentiallycollective practices and institutions of local music-making. Equally important,it by-passes the key question of definitions. Who should be counted as a'musician' or 'musical practitioner' turned out to be an elusive and relativematter. It was often part-time engagement in music, but how 'part time'could this be? What about the complex amateur/ professional continuum?And which of several possible roles in relation to music should be included?Trying to make an exact count of an ill-defined and variegated field is notaltogether productive. It also leaves out many other people who, asdescribed in this volume, themselves played a necessary part in local music.There were the parents of children taking classical music lessons and exams;the part-time music teachers and home electronic organ players; the 400 orso members of the Milton Keynes Divided Country and Western Club andthe comminee who ran it; the whole series of supporters' networks andinstitutions which, as indicated in part 4, worked together to maintain localmusic; the 8,000--10,000 who participated in the music of local churchservices on anyone Sunday; or the audiences without whose aC(1veparticipation the numerous performances could not have reached a successfulenactment, from the runs of a week or more for operatic performances tothe regular pub or social club musical evenings on which 100- or even 200-scrong audiences were not unusual. or the tens of thousands attendonSschool concert over the year. These people tOO were participants on thevarious mu ical 'world • described in part 2. Many of them can be regardedoften


Y s til(/lllla. Ilr/;all livingPII (er or lesser degree, themselves m .grea USlcal ..,5, to ~ I audience members who played a sk'll praCtItIoners n I, u at I ed ad' at easthe teg sica I performances (see chapter 12) Th' . n essential . t'ng I11U .., . IS Illlr If pan Inforllii b rs particIpating, 111 one way or anoth . se vastlyenla dul11 e er, III th rge'c 0 pro eSSlOn I' oca"IU SI : 'ons like WAP or the MKDC/BMK a musicians a d,nlsan . -arranged norg' he focus of thiS book, have been little menti db concens (which,,ven t d'd h 'd . I' one Ut wereg I cene) as I t e WI er Imp Ications to b d' part of theho e S'. ' e IS cussed . hIV by which musIC was one significant elem . b In t e nextchapter, . ent III oth' bl". d' 'dual' rieuals, a role With repercussions far be d' , pu IC and'In IVIyon Just muslc-makin '. he narrow sense. gIntrhus there were. d d I111 ee on y a minority of peopl h .. d f' e w a were aCtIvesicians 111 the accepte sense 0mu .'consistently deploying the recogntsed.anso f Singing or playll1g an lI1strument, . but the widening circles ofmvo. I vementin music meant that the practice of music was of much wider localsignificance. Far from bell1g ~he kll1~ of marginal and unstructured acrivityoften suggested by the label leIsure, WIth ItS Implication of residual iremssomehow left over from 'real' life, these musical practices were upheld notby isolated individuals in an asocial vacuum or by people merely trying tofiJI in the time ro 'solve' the 'problem of leisure', but through a series ofsocially recognised pathways which systematically linked into a wide varietyof settings and institutions within the city.In view of this wide spread, did the practice of music have any relevancefor the overall life of the city, or at least for the way people structured andexperienced urban life? The answer is, broadly, yes, bur in a complex formIhe n 5 (00 did the presence of the more' f . e practice of I Iwhich needs some further discussion.Two familiar paradigms for understanding the place of music (or anyregular set of practices) in urban life will immediately occur not just to thed. . I d' b hfe FIrSt theaca emlc analysts but also ro most people ll1VO ve 111 ur an . ,id f h . . . ical to personalea ate city as a large and heterogeneous arena InIm. " hich people areContra I Or warmth; and, second, that of 'commUnIty, til w. fbo d b d h me conscIOusness aun y numerous ties know each other, an ave so . f hper I . ' . h h f I art J NeIther a t esesana IIlvolvement in the locality of whlc t ey ee p. Iexa I fi d" his srudy, but e ementsCt y tted the practice of music as I foun It 111 t h h v furtherf rom b h d' . . f ch ca n t US ( ro\. at Id enrer in. Some examll1atlon 0 ealight on I oca I musIc .... and ItS Wider llnp I' IcatlO. n s . . of'loca ISe . I d my mentionveral people With whom I spoke qUIckly trans are h ' lica(ion (hat IlllUllc-m k' , . . , ft 1 WIth t e Imp .a Ing Into '~ommul1lty mUSIC, 0 CI ostalgic quas l -"as th . , in some n' 'fs Us rcdi~covennf.\ our 'Io'>t COlnInUnlty . ,'in rhat sense IPltItu I . -OIlllnU l1lt )o I. a ~cn\e. But the Clty.l~ .1 whole wa, nor. 1 l ,d in many casesn) for th h . S ((10 large .IIl f gedtOo e () VIOU'> fa,t that Its populatIoIl w.l. Il to have orrcccn f -h h'r or eve . . (ereseXt t Or people all tSto know e.le ot e , _cupanons, IncnllVe d . dlfferen( ocIn Ire,t Itnks, and there were many >99


The significance of local musicand social contacts. Some city-wide institutions, certainly, did r .central facilities, controls and perhaps definitions for the are: ~vlde sOlliemost part neither these nor the concept of Milton Keynes as a U:ho~t fo t thedirect concern to most people in the everyday conduct of their me weteofh).. . h . . I h UStcal (0ot er actlvmes, nor were t elr mUSlca pat ways necessaril twithin the boundaries of the city.y ConfinedWhat, then, about the various localities within the city? Look'II . h b . h' h Ing atsma er groupIngs as e~n one way In w IC researchers have revealed theoften close Internal ties In, for Instance, ethnic or single-occupatiomunities embedded within a wider urban framework. Though fr~~Ot~'outset I felt it unlikely that Milton Keynes would turn out to Contain 'utba evillages' in this sense, I had still vaguely expected that I would end unfocussing in the traditional anthropological mode on some local neighbou;'hood within which musical ties were closely intertwined with other sociallinks. But this never happened. This was mainly because of the extraneighbourhoodpattern of much musical activity (elaborated below), butalso because Milton Keynes simply was not made up of local 'communities'of that kind. There were areas in the city, it is true, where a longetestablishedpopulation gave a greater sense of local attachment: Wolverton,with its long connection with the British Rail works, parts of Bletchley, andcertain of the villages. Even there, however, one could scarcely speak of aclose-knit, far less homogeneous, population by the 1980s, and close socialties were not necessarily neighbourhood-based if only because of the influxof new population, jobs and demands. Even the new planned neighbourhoods,each with its own type of housing, environment and likely socialprofile, could not easily be designared as 'communiries' as far as musicwent - or perhaps for other purposes either (see Abrams 1980). Localmusic-making was nor rypically practised within a neighbourhood-based'community' in the traditional sense (admittedly vague, bur still withsome meaning) of a collectivity of people living together in a specifictermorial area bound together by interpersonal ries or a sense of belongingtogether.Some musical groups did take their names from particular localities.There were the Stony Stratford Singers, the Wolverton Light Orchestra. theNewport Pagnell Choral Society, the Woburn Sands Band (indeed all theolder brass bands), and the many church and school chOirs. Such group;usually had a local practice place and I!.ave ,11 lC3st some of thelf performan'"ncarhy; even when, ,,, With the Woburn Sand, 8.1I1d, the) were tildemand elsewhere thcy had ,orne fc,'hnA of re'p,,,,,,,,,,,t) t" 'the loellcommun,ty' and mad,' ,In effort III pl.l~ ton,' ,It (,h"'tTII,I' nr other ,pec'llacea 1


~ tt l. urban living,hlt'"YS III .PI h where the ntoal element could bI churc , . e marked b9 loCa .bu. from 'local singers, brass band or . y a musicalnonmstrumen rcantO munity' could be regarded as a situational d ta ISts. In this'co!!l b I an emergsense . ( ather than some a so ute property) a . ent aspect ofroes r ' process In wh o hloC a I all music by local performers played its IC music,d above .. . ' . part.an But eve n in this relattve sense, . . the stgntficance of th ese groups f h ·, eighbourhood was ltmlted. Many of their membe d.d Or t etr'ow on . d b b d ' rs I not In factltv


The significance of local musicwas indeed held by some Milton Keynes dwellers, as the trickle of Ilocal newspapers from disillusioned settlers illustrated.etters toWhat makes the bureaucrats think an y sane perso n wants ro live here an yW )They're much better off in London, or anywhere else for that matter. There is' ay,is there likely to be, any form of community spirit. Milto n Keynes is juSt a sea; t, nOt'd f B " I • . h . ooth,countrys! e 0 ntam - can t see It c angmg, can anyone else? (Milton KMirror, 3 November 1983)eynesIhe)This kind of formulation would be taken as typical by comment. . '. atarsconcerned to dispute the facile community-orientated view of harmoniousurban life or perhaps depict local dwellers as the passive creatures of massforces. Was it characteristic, though, of those participating in [he musicalactivities described in this book?There is certainly something in the picture of impersonality. ThoughMilton Keynes was not large by urban standards, relatively few of the100,000 plus population could be known to each other in a sustainedpersonal sense; few if any live musical occasions were genuinely accessible toeveryone; and even in smaller neighbourhoods local performances were notnecessarily widely recognised. Any given musical event was the direct gpersonal concern of a relatively small number of people (different in each kcase), while others either failed to notice them consciously or regarded them fas just part of the imposed environment within which they had to live. Even Ithose keenly involved in music usually had little to do with other musical Iworlds and were often surprised that I was studying various forms of localmusic: they knew about their own, but was there really much else? Evenwithin musical worlds people did not necessarily interact personally; I wasconstantly taken aback to find that, for example, members of differentchoirs did not know each other (sometimes were not even a ware of theexistence of other choirs), and that local musicians highly regarded by somelocal enthusiasts might be unknown even to those of the same musical'world' living or working nearby.There was also an element of anonymity even within musical groups, Myoriginal expectation had been that choirs, music clubs, instrumental groups,rock bands and so on would be made up of people who knew each otherwell and that their shared musical interest would be complemented by somerounded knowledge of other aspects of each others' lives.' I came to realisethat this could not be assumed either for all groups or for all individualswithin them. Some groups were close knit, especially the older brass bands,and members had other ties besides their joint music-making; some werefriends or colleagues or members of the same church or school, while otherswere relatives. Even there, though, links between individuals differed -therewas no single social life shared by the group - and some had little or noadditional contact. Other groups had fewer personal links, and people knew3 02",0",I\\'itbelio


In e.dthemlive, Elmmwtalof lrolof di{kIcIof tit,1l'S If'/lrba ll /1l'/IIgfllhJ " b'l'' heir co-mem crs IV CS. In lara~ ut t "er grou'I,tl e J 0 , each other's names beyond thclr 1m Pd' ptoplc did n')t I, kilO" d I' I mt la J \Ie,en . did, often ha It[ C knowledge of f tt rartners J d J),the) , h ' Or eXam In, e\en.hen [ua[lons: suc matters were unlm p e, their' Lsnc Sl POrtant f h top, orJotOl, h h had come together. Or t e Pur"" ft ey . ,'v'e or.hle as also an Impersonal element In publ,here wI 'IC perform•n 'n linked by persona ties to one Or mor f h Le. Audltn«,rIo f te '1 I' COt e pc f"e e not necessan y so Inked amona the I r orme" - but, wet " mse "es I d 'd h, h e) f'public' performance allied to the accept ' f n ce t c wholencept 0 . . ance 0 ano 'CO t in urban hVIng meant that musical event n)mu) .lSoneletOen ..' s Somellmes t k It h latively httle direct SOCIal acknowledgment 0 . 00 pace"Ir re f r personal .cqUIbe , en most members 0 the audience apart from th " • IntancetWIeIr 10Int participationn thl evenr.I In some ..' respects, then, local musical actiVity ,efitted With th ImpersOllJl ' ,moo. -Jel of City hfe: a POInt that needs emphaSISIng to challeng ' e th e commonbut unjustified assumption that all. special-interest groups are necessarIlymarked by strong personal sohdanty. But thiS was not the whole truthlilher. One essential point here has already been mentioned - the variety ofgroupings, some With closer Internal ties than others. The extent of c1oseknitinteraction on the one hand, compared to more superficial singlefacetedrelationships on the other, would be hard to measure concl usively(and the balance was perhaps different in the developing context of MiltonKeynes from that in some older towns) . But it was clear at least that bothprocesses could be found in local music and that close multi-facetedrelationships were by no means exceptional; many groups had elements ofboth. To concentrate just on the impersonal and segmented processes wouldbe misleading, however typicall y ' urban' they might appear in theoreticalterms.Furthermore, this was not how many participants themselves perceivedthe' . 1 .. 1 d'd k uch about all thetrIr muslCa activity. People common Y I not now mco- b " ' h h ttered to them theymem ers In mUSical groups - but m t e sense t at rnakn h k ew one or moreew enough. Individuals often joined because t ey n . d dme b 1 . 1 .' then remforce anm ers a ready and their joint mUSlCa aCtIVity , I fam rfi d h . l'ties like sharIng ItSPie that existing contact if not throug praCtlca IdOr dr ' ' . the same group ane IVetlng messages then at least through supportingin themaki . 1 d know everyoneng musIC together. There was no fe t nee to k f efreshmrOUnd N. d A brea or r ents.. ew personal lmks could be create too: . h larger musICalan d a ch d ngs m telat was a normal part of the proce e I . I not a mus icagtoups. d fi d as a SOCIa, .o . a meagre gap, perhaps, but one e ne . d with an mtens ene. The l' k d d aSSOCiate 'f tand d se In s were regularly repeate toO an . text even I nOe I . k . thiS con' dsexp ep y valued mode of activity: hn s In . al backgroun ,ressed h es or SOCI f urbanb h t rough know ledge of names, ag d b the model atoug t people together in a way scarcely co vete y 3°3


The significance of local mllsicrelarionships as anonymous and superficial. For regular members of .h . d mUsIc 1groups rhis could represent a consrant r erne, carne over week afr 'in rhe same order an d Wit. hrhe same compamons.. The same feature wer weekevident in the smaller groups like the bands discussed in chapter 1 ,.s ~Isoagain some players knew little about their colleagues or seldom met ~~ ~re·· . -... I tSideband occasions, b ut t h elt mtenSive Jomt activity was, sure y, of a diffeorder from the utilitarian and fleeting relationships sometimes supp~e~characteristic of urban activity outside the home.seThus the extreme anonymous model of urban life does not fit all aspectsof local mUSlc-makmg either, at least as that IS experienced by theparticipants. The fact that they conduct their lives within a town does notmean that they necessarily find their own engagement in town life cold andanonymous (even though for some individuals and in some situations thiswas undoubtedly the experience), nor are they merely the passive recipientsof arts manufactured by others. The active practice of collective musicmakingis pre-eminently a sphere within which people can, and regularly do,experience a justified awareness of personal meaning and control.It is of course nothing new to find that the theoretical models do notprecisely fit specific cases while at the same time illuminating certainrecurrent elements and revealing the complexity of differing processes. Bur ifthese opposed paradigms of all-embracing 'community' as against impersonalanonymity are of limited use, do any alternative social scienceperspectives help us to understand further the implications of local musicwithin the town?Many of the approaches in urban studies can indeed be brought to bear,and a number of their key terms have surfaced already - 'network', 'groups','associations' or (the central metaphor in parts 2.-3) the less widely used butfar-reaching concept of 'worlds'. Such terms illumine many aspects of thisstudy and I certainly do not wish to challenge them as such. But I ultimatelyfound that they were not as useful as I had expected for analysing localmusical practice and its implications.One has to start from the characteristics of the musical practices actuallyfound on the ground. These are, first, the part-time nature of much musicalinvolvement, second, the combination of a varied degree of individualparticipation with some clear habitual patterns, and, third, the relative andnon-bounded nature of musical practice, in one sense locally based, inanother extending more widely across the country.These fearures make the more closed, integrated and concrete associationsof terms like 'world' (see chapter 14) or 'community' (see above) for alltheir flexibility somewhat misleading for local musical activity. 'Group' isalso a revealing concept to try. In one way it is clearly appropriate to themore specific units like the small bands discussed in chapter ~ 9 or (m liSextended sense) to the voluntary association form of many ChOIIS, operatIC


do ,do notcertainBut II,Irnper.,SClen"musicto bear,'groups',used burof thIslocalhl/'JVs In arban livingPJI . brass bands. But the term d, ,eS or . b h h ,oes not Isoc1et 's intO wh ich ot t ese assOciations and a en Us to the 'Pa r~\I· ay blished sy mbolic and habitual p the small bands I ' Wider~ e esta racttces wh ' h u tlmat Ifir: t ' roups'. Nor do the extensions of th ' IC made sens feya rareg II h e term Int ' e 0 theseP , roups' rea Y capture t e continuing '. 0 Interest grou ', (Ion g k b d arttsttc co ' ps OraC , . nal framewor 5 eyon and behind h ' nVentlons and h. (ltu(lO ' h b ' t e speclfi I t elOs 'rouping per aps nngs us back 0 , c ocal units. Th. gUer g , . hi ' nce agaIn to h ' e,a this ume m t e non- ocaltsed sense of b ' 'b t e community'concept, ' h h b elOg ased on ', of the parues ... t at t ey elong together' (W b a subJectivef,ehng W'ld 8 ff e er 194_! wirth 1969, I 19 I, pp. 35 .), like the 'mor I 7, P: '3 6 , d,"eu, d with, say, churches,f'nendsh'Ip groups da communttl' es'associatean certain 0 .s (as in Abrams 1980), or Cohen's (1985a) 'sy b I' IIP CClipationalgr OU . m 0 Ica y co d'munities marked out by thelt perceived bound ' f nstructecom f I' . , artes rom others Th 'veys one aspect 0 loca musrcal praCtttloners rem' d' . IScon , db ' ' 10 109 us of the senseofamilianty and share sym ols whIch often form part f h . ,f . h' h ' 0 t Cit expertence'u t once agam t IS approac .. can mislead . both in I't s connotation " ofbunded ness . and the emphaSIS . on subJectlve . feeling . Loc a I mUSICians . , arebolinked not Just by shared views or emotlons but by social practices, Peoplemayor may not feel a sense of closure or separation from others in specificsituations, but what does define theIr habitual musical pathways are theirshared and purposive collective actions.Approaches in terms of 'networks' or 'quasi-groups" are helpful in theopposite way: drawing attention to the individual element in musicalpractice, its relative openness, and the part-time and essentially nonneighbourhoodnature of most local music, Personal networks and theirsignificance for 'working at' music has been one main theme of the earlierdiscussion. But once again these terms do not quite comprehend local music,mainly because of their often atomistic and sociometric, even mechanistic,overtones, Local musical practices depend indeed on individuals' connectionsbut also have a certain abiding structure over and above the links ofparticular individuals' sO when one set of links - or bands or clubs - dissolveothers can be forged' in their place following the same tradition. This issomething more rich and continuing than the two_dimensional picturesuggested by'the 'network' image.'h' d to me a better one tocaNo term IS perfect, but the Idea of 'pat ways' 1see me. missed.til otherpture and summarise aspects of mUSlca pracnceap h ' b d ne possible metaphorproac es, Let me explain how thIS can e use as 0 f bfor 'II ' ' d" plicatio ns or ur an, I ummating certain features of local muSIC an ItS 1mhfe.Th . " .... b ok followed a series ofe participants m local musIC descnbed m thiS 0 d ' nd whichk nOWn d 1 h were Ie rotO - a ,h an regular routes which peop e c ose - or, Th e 'pathwayst ey both kept open and extended through their actton~. es ted in part •more I '. " l' orlds presenor ess cOincIded with the varymg mustca w 3 0 5


The significance of local musicbut avoid the misleading overtones of concreteness, stability, bound dand comprehensiveness associated with the term 'world'. 'Pathw e, ness. f h ays alsoreminds us of the part-tIme nature a muc local music-making (peoplefollow many pathways concurrent I y, and leave or return as they chthroughout their lives), of the overlapping and intersecting natu,;osedifferent musical traditions, and of the purposive and dynamic nature 0:established musical practices. The many different forms of musical aCtivi~ydesCrIbed In thIS srudy were not random or created from nothing each timeby individual practitioners, but a series of familiar and - by their follo wers _taken-far-granted routes through what might otherwise have been theimpersonal wildernesses of urban life, paths which people shared withothers in a predictable yet personal fashion. They were not all-encompassingor always clearly known to outsiders, but settings in which relationshipscould be forged, interests shared, and a continuity of meaning achieved inthe context of urban Iiving_These pathways did more than provide the established routines of musicalpractice which people could choose to follow: they also had symbolic depth.One common impression given by very many participants was that theirmusical pathways were of high value among the various paths within theirlives. Of course, this varied among individuals and was scarcely susceptibleto precise measurement_ The several different pathways any individualfollowed were often not in direct competition so did not need to be explicitlyranked, and in any case assigning 'importance' is a notoriously trickyundertaking_ But given the findings of this study on the time, commitmentand personal investment so many people gave to music, and the kind ofpersonal engagement manifest even in many of the photographs reproducedin this book, let alone to the first-hand observer of musical events andpractice - given all this it would be uninformed to go on assuming withoutquestion, as is often done, that people's other pathways like job orhousehold-maintaining were automatically of paramount importance intheir scale of values. Indeed the impression given, not indeed by everyoneinvolved in music, but by person after person in spontaneous comment,answers to questions, and, above all, action was that their music-makingwas one of the habitual routes by which they identified themselves asworthwhile members of society and which they regarded as of somehowdeep-seated importance to them as human beings_This leads on to a second point. These local musical pathways wereestablished, already-trodden and, for the most part, abiding routes whichmany people had taken and were taking in company with others. To be sure,none were permanent in the sense of being changeless, nor could theysurvive without people treading and constantly re-forming them; new pathswere hewn out, some to become established, others to fade or be only faintlyfollowed, others again to be extended and developed through new routmgs


. !'rban living>is til 'pa1btVp,'ndividuals and groups who patronised hOfofbY the I I the established pathways were in t em. But for an '' idua s a sense alre d h y givenin d IV begin on: they were part of the existl' I a y t ere as aI st tong cu tu If' rOUteat ea h' g that had to be calculated afresh h ra orms rather ther In h . eac tim S an5001 ~ore needed more t an JUSt an odd few h e. uch pathwayf rrher,., . "f Ours every k sU h phazard leisure actIVity; or those who foIl d wee Or so inO1e a , d h owe them '50 Iso a recognise cannel for self-expres ' , senously, theywere a k Slon 10 man'ng on personal networ s, for growing up thro h h y senses, fordraWl " hI' ug t e vanous'f for achlevmg a woe senes of non-musical"stages ofIt e, d alms 10 the local' fh I'ng with others, an , not least, for providing m . f Ity, Or5 ar , , eaOlng or p I'on and identIty. These pathways mcluded both pe I ersonaaCt1rsona networks a des tablished ",groups, and were another way,in which localmuslca'I 'worlds'n"ere realtsed 10"practIce., ,From the pomt,of view of bath ' d' ,10 IVldualparticipants and the localltles through which they ran they c ' d.' . " ,OnstltUte oneset of purpoSive actIons - an mVlslble structure - actions through whichpeople chose to conduct their Itves.Given the significance of these musical pathways for many people's livesand experience, it would be interesting for Our understanding of modernurban life to know how people entered on to them. What made them choose- or avoid - certain pathways rather than, or as well as, others? This is all abit of a mystery, as, perhaps, basic life choices usually are, whether theyrelate to job, love, religion or personality. But the often unnoticed butpervasive pathways which structure local music turn out to be more worthexploring than has usually been assumed by analysts of modern urban life,and, however elusive, to have something to tell us about the maintenanceand continuity - or perhaps change - of our traditional cultural forms.In commenting on this themselves, some musicians stressed the selfchosennature of their music: they had put in the necessary work, had therequisite talent, and had continued to pursue this path alongside the otheraspects of their lives like employment or education. The achieved ratherthan ascribed nature of musical competence was one major theme in localmusical activity, when what you achieved musically was more Importantthan h " ' II usic performers, butw a you were. ThiS applted m a measure to a mfthe ' I ' as a channel or, YOunger rock musicians in partICu ar saw musIC fIndivid I I ' I I' d achievement, even orua se f-expression for publtc y acc alme Id k asocial b'I" A 'dividual cou rna erna Iity and economic advancement. n 111 'bureau-Illark f f ' of occupation,ree rom the otherwise limiting constra1l1tSCtacy dor e ucation. " well_developedAm dnother View'was of music as an"b ift' ThiS IS a ,III am g. , d' 'dual 'talento el in hi' h ' hasis on 111 IVIand' h t e c assical music world, Wit ItS emp , II be interpreted as ach t e great artist' (a model that could also, cymca y, h this vieW wasaftet to ' k' ) But thoug , ofsOm ' rationalise the current ran IIlg· , I explananonetlmefull or partlas expressed by local practitioners as a 307


--~~ . .'The signi{ica/lce of local musictheir own interests it was less common than I expected and Was. f . f malnl,concentrated among t h ose conscIOus 0 commg rom 'non-musical b ... ack.grounds' and composers ( were h con fid ence m mnate talent was p her apsespecially important).Neither 'achievement' nor 'inborn genius' was the whole stor)' An. . evenmore common reactlon was to remark how parents or other relations hadprovided the initial stimulus, and how this had then grown into anestabli shed interest. In fact one of the most striking characteristics of localmusicians was the high proportion who had grown up in families who werein some way or another musical. Exact figures are impossible without a farmore extensive survey than I was able to conduct, but among the MiltonKeynes musicians practising in the early 1980S whose names I was able torecord a surprisi ngly high proportion had some family musical connection.This was borne out by looking at names over time. It was fascinating 10 scanthe lists of entrants in the annual Festival of Arts over the years and see thesame family names coming up again and again as first the older children,then their younger brothers and sisters moved through the graded musicalclasses. Similarly with the published lists of classical musical examinations,where successive members of the same family worked their way through thegrades. Programmes of local concerts showed a similar pattern. TheBletchley Amateur Operatic Society, the Gilbert and Sull ivan societies, andthe local brass bands all contained multiple members of the same family,with new generations joining the older in their involvement in musical•practlce.This hereditary feature could perhaps be explained by saying that therewas a lot of music around, so some family connections were only to beexpected. But I suspect there was more to it than that, not least because ofthe mechanisms by which this hereditary pattern was implemented. Giventhe way many kinds of music are currently practised it is difficult to see howmusic-making could emerge generation after generation without familyinfluence.To be sure, many children learnt a minimum of musical performance andappreciation at school, and were often much influenced by school peers intheir attitudes to music. But even in the relatively undemanding activities ofchoir singing, ensemble playing, or recorder lessons in primary schools, itwill be recalled that one crucial factor influencing which children participatedwas parental interest (see chapter 15). If a schoolchild was to learn aninstrument seriously either at school or privately then parental support wasof the essence. Quite apart from the cost of lessons, parents had to providefacilities for practising (no light imposition on family living), and finance forsheet music, for equipment like music stands and, eventually, the instrumentitself. Private music lessons in particular could be costly and, as wasdiscussed earlier, made demands on parental support for facilitating pro-308


ill urball livingpat h tVaysthtough the years as part of the lengthy process of th h 'ld'gr eSS ' d h ' e CIS gradualco lidating of tnterests an ac levements, It was ofte ' " d bnso" n mltlate ecause oftarents' own musical expertence, One or both had f hhe p , h ' dh 0 ten t emselvesear t instruments tn c II ood or perhaps wished thel' h'ld hI n . .' r C 1 ren to aveop ortunities " tn classical learn 109 that they felt they h a d I ost out onPthemselves, Either way, It was a common assumption that acquiring m s' I'ld' ' I" u Icaskills was part 0 f a CIS h socia Isatlon for which parents took responsibility,It was thus small wonder that so many families included severalmusicians: twO or three children at different stages, often with parentalparticipation toO,The hereditary emphasis in music was further consolidated by familyleisure patterns, Parents were sometimes themselves active musicians ininstrumental ensembles or choral groups, which often contained more thanone generation, with parents gradually being joined by their children, Mosraudiences for local musical performances included a proportion of theperformers' children, along with their other friends and relatives, Growingup in a musical family thus helped to set an individual's interests and skills incertain channels for the future - not ones followed through in every singleinstance, but accepted pathways which those from musical backgroundswere more likely to find themselves treading, and, whether on and off orconsistently throughout their lives, recognising as a natural and selfevidentlyjustifiable pattern of habitual action,These hereditary patterns were most prominent in classical music, wherethe established learning system depended on parental support, Sillging was abit of an exception, for many choral singers had had little if any vocal tuitionand had learnt from school or church choirs, Ir was not totally different,however, for singers in the classical choirs had [0 read music, so~ethingmany choral singers had learnt through instrumental lessons, with thehereditary factor once again inclining them towards classical pathways,Learning through church choirs usually meant there was already somefamily involvement, and many local singers spoke of a family musical -sometimes specifically choral- interest which had awakened and rem forcedtheir own, Here too, if in a less direct way, family background encouragedpeople on to certain musical paths, ,Though this family basis was most evident in classICal pathways, parallel, ' hI' modes Brass bands contamedprocesses also apphed m at er earnmg, ' ' ,, 1 b f h families wlthm and across the generations,mu I up e mem ers rom t" 'e samek I 'th,'" the famtly.supported by theand learnmg still sometimes tOO p ace WI '., , f b b d' 't also sometimes wenr alongquasI-apprentice , system 0 taSS h an s, 1 for these brass pathways toclassICal learning lines, It was , t us f common h me family a stl 'II-contlnumg' .extend ovcr several generations 0. . [e 1 sa hereditary as ' younger mem b erstradition. Operatic societies tOO were part y . d l ' h''If active families grew up with a set of interestS, habits, an re atlons IpS3 0 9


The significance of local mllSlchlch led them mto similar pursuits. So tOO WIth COuntry a dW . n "'tmusical performances, at least 111 respect of the learned ,kIll f \Itr~audIence pa~ticlpatlon: the 1I0ur.lshing local club wa~ very muchoa ;a':"affaIr (sometimes a three-generation one), and man)" club evenings ", 11)with younger children coming wIth theIr families to a faml!'ar . 'Ir1l1tdoccasion. , cu rUralWith jazz and folk mUSIC the hereditary' pattern Was nor ~o mark d bthere too muslca II y mc' I'mede,parents encouraged their children's InUI. . ' tere-Stsometimes themselves teach 109 or provldmg OPPOrtUllltlCS for le.rl1 ' '109 Inone of their own bands. But the pathways were ~omctlmes more musIcal]'diverse; many local lazz and folk performers dId mdeed come from mUSIcalfamilies - but classical ones. Several had learnt an instrument (nor necessar.ily their current one) 111 the classical mode, or had organIsed such lessons fortheir own children. There was family musIcal continuity, therefore, even Ifnot in exactly the same pathways.The rock world seemed dIfferent. There was pamcular stress on sel(­achievement through music, and the accepted mode of self-teach111g madethis feasible. In addition the relatively innovative nature of rock meant lessoppo rtunity for musical transmission through generations. For SOme rockpl ayers there was also conscious breaking away from patterns they saw asimposed on them by authority (parents as well as teachers or employers), sopeer-influence and to some extent models set up m the mass media andjointly admired with those of their o wn generation outside the fa mily orforma l school context were often as impo rta nt as famtly background. T hesedifferences sho uld not be exaggera ted , however. Many parents gave quiersuppo rt to local teenage bands through help wi th mstruments or transport.A considera ble proportion o f rock p layers did come from musical fa milies,some had learnt instruments in the claSSIcal tradItion and, as in the fo lk orjazz worlds, several o lder rock musICians were encouraging their ownchildren's interests across a range of musical modes. T here were also ea rlierforms of popular music from which rock seemed a natura l progression.Several local rock players came from fa milies in which one o r both pa rentshad performed in pubs or working men's clubs; in such cases playing in arock band was a kind of continuity.With the only partial exception of rock, then, one of the most strikingcharacteristics of musical transmission - of how people tended to enter onparticular musical pathways - was its hereditary basis. Of course there wereexceptions, and people were not programmed into pre-selected paths: butessentially the tendency was for people from musical fami lies to themselv;;enter on musical pathways of some kmd, often ones slmdar to thofollowed by one or both parents or grandparents, by siblings or by otherrelatives This was evident through all the local musical pathways. There. . I I b b d ( ne a bass player and librarian, thewere the parents In a oca rass an 0310


ifrathlvaysill urban livingrher secretary) with theirdtwohsons playing percussionandcorner/trumpero I I brasS bands an orc estral groups and a third h h d bin Dca b d f' w 0 a egun therll a, . rhe three . rock an sons 0 a local Jazz player' ' the rna ny sma II popularbban centnng on twO or more . ..' brothers themselves f rom a .dsmusIcalbackground; the stream of chOlr-smgmg mothers with all their childrenlearning instruments; the musIc centre director and brass player tracing hisSalvation Army band mterest back to hIS grandfather, whose family had allsung tenor, and who had grown up in a background of 'old-fashionedVierorian family music-making'; and the typical comments, even from rockplayers, on the lines of 'Dad's a drummer, brother a guitarist', 'Father singsand used ro be m a dance band m the thirties, mother a pianist and churchorganist', 'Dad sings, plays guitar, piano and drums; grandpa and aunt alsomusical', 'Father a clarinettist; both sisters play instruments', or 'Father verymusical _ bass, piano, trombone; last year was in jazz band with him;mother used to play piano' (quotations from band survey: see appendix).It has often been observed that in some non-industrial cultures there arehereditary artS in which specific families provide experts for the society as awhole: specialists in, say, poetry, divination, drumming, smith-craft, orparticular forms of dancing, singing or other musical performance. Suchexperts are usually not full-time professionals or wtally determined by birth,but it is accepted that they are most likely to come from particular familylines. The English situation has often been contrasted with such culturesbecause of its greater division of labour, professionalisation of many tasks,and (it has often been assumed) overriding significance of paid employmentand/or class as determinants of people's lives. But in the practice of amateurmusic, which bulks so large at the local level, the English form may not afterall be so different. Certainly there tends ro be little explicit ideology of ahereditary basis in England (unlike some other cultures); but rhe familybasedtransmission of music and its skills from generatlon to generation'd d d' arrant mechanism in ourappears to be a much more WI e-sprea an Impsociety than is usually realised. . b' f . I pathways has b een I' Itt I eOne . reason why the family . as ISf 0 muslca social scientistS and othersnoticed . may be the preoccupation f 0 so . many stern industna 'I' society f orWith 'class' as the paramount actor 10 we II ' h'> to the next Fo OW 109 t IStransmitting life-styles from one generation . >h study but given commonthrough in detail would need a woe h I ff urr er >' , > > >> econoOlIC class 10 OlUSIC as 10assumptions about the importance 0'd50CIOhereon> >bl ole ill leadingIts pasS! e teverything else, something must b e sal > I . Ir viII turn out that. . I h ys In Ioea mUSIC> \people Into the various mUSlca pat wa > > I' hly questionable.. . I> > S are 111 praCtIce lIgcerram Widely assumed genera IsatIO n •~I ro parncU:H > I Ill· n sical pathways ,In a ge"eral sense, people sentry> 0 1 b h> vas partly related tof Ily mcm crS IP,'d epen d cnt as this largely was on amC tourcCS cr a I'll 'ctivities ., needed>that famlly's social and economiC res > pI


The significance of local musicmoney, transport, o r access to specific venues or networks, Or wererelated to particular k· d f d . I h' per 'p,In s a e ucanona ac le"ements, materialI. I .. All h Po,.sessions, cultura interests, or SOCIa asplfanons. t esc were thus likely toplay some part In the selecnon of parncular pathways - though differentldifferent contexts and for different individuals. One term under which ~~I'complex of factors is sometimes grouped together is of course 'class' B ISjust in what sense or in what precise directions this really did infll;en~;people's pathways, and to what extent these different factors did tend tocoincide within one complex is obscure indeed, perhaps particularly sowhen it was not jobs, education or house-ownership but musical practicethat was involved: something hard to measure and seldom investigated byresearchers and government surveys.Interpretation and evidence are thus elusive, but o ne point was cle.r.Contrary to some expectations, the findings on local musicians and theirbackgrounds in Milton Keynes in the early 1980s did /lot reveal any clearclass-dominated patterns for involvement in music generally. Active music·making of any kind was a minority interest, mainly undertaken by part·timers, but within that minority were numbered people of many back·grounds in terms of education, wealth and - for many class analysts thecrucial variable - occupation (or lack of it).One of the striking features of local music was thus the overall mixtllre ofpeople practisi ng it. They included senior local government administrators,university academics, middle and junior and trainee managers, school·teachers, nurses and midwives, technicians, housewives and mothers, fac·tory workers, bus, train and forklift drivers, railway workers, school·children, unemployed people, retired people, apprentices, shop assistants,self-employed decorators, plumbers and carpenters, mechanics, bankers,civil servants, engineers, clerks, insurance workers, farmers, hairdressers,graphic artists, youth and social workers, electricians and salesmen - toname only some. Local music was nOt self-evidently the monopoly of anyone social category, nor was there any indication from the rather generalfindings available to me that the musical practices described in this studywere heavily concentrated in one or another of the class strata into whichsociologists and survey-takers often like to divide the English population.'It could be argued that the financial costs mentioned several times in thisvolume made musical activity unaffordable for certain people. This wasundoubtedly sometimes a factor, but did not translate unambiguously intoclass terms. Access to cash for musical instruments or entertainment was notnecessarily the preserve just of those with 'middle-class' jobs or highereducation. Type of housing or car ownership were perhaps equally important,affecting both mobility and places to meet and play. But here again itwould be facile to link these directly with 'class' alone. Furthermore,musical access did not depend just on ownership of house or car, for anotherh3 12


5 ill "rball livingpathtl'oyof some musical pathways was the sharing offea tUre. . . . All · II resources to facilitate. USICal actiVities. m a , whether or not ind··d I·CJllt "' h IVI ua s entered and, d on musical pat ways was not related in any simple h Istaye II d b way to t e c ass towhich rhey could be a ocatey government statistics or sociological labels.Iflocal musIC was not m general class-dominated we p ·fi .paths perha~ sthe answer y ~ s.' ' re s eel c mUSIcala,ssoClated with specific classes? Many analysts would expectand go on to pred,ct certam associations, linking classicalmusic wIth mlddle- and upper-class culture, brass bands with the traditionalworking class, folk and country and western with 'the people' in some sense(rural, maybe), and perhaps jazz and certainly rock with the working class(or perhaps 'working-class youth culture').It will be clear from the evidence in the earlier chapters that thesepredictions were not borne out by the local practice. Many of those engagedin classical music were from reasonably affluent, educated and privilegedfamilies, but certainly not all. Particularly in the choirs and the partiallyoverlapping operatic societies, and among the children currently embarkingon musical interests in Milton Keynes (the vast majority at local stateschools), musicians came from a wide variety of backgrounds. The onceacceptabledescription of the piano as a 'middle-class instrument' (Weber1958, pp. 12off.) was no longer applicable, and though in the higher-statusorchestral groups such as the Sherwood Sinfonia older players were said tocome from a traditional 'middle-class pool', this did not cover all its youngerentrants and other orchesttal and choral groups in the town drew on mixedbackgrounds, not least the many church choirs and their organists. It wastrue that a family on a low income found it harder to undertake regularinstrumenrallessons for their children, but families committed to musIC stilitried to pursue it even from meagre resources (in some cases paying cashlesson by lesson rather than in advance for a series), while well-off familiescould be doubtful about the costs if music was nor one of thelf priorities. Forthe question of who entered upon classical music pathways and how theydid this, the 'middle-class' image did indeed have some counterpart 111. . I r1y with pflvate mstrumentalpeople's behaviour and perceptions - partlcu a I . h IIlessons and classical examinations - but even then did not I aPIP Y,eIt erlto a'·ddl I s' or to al c aSSlca I payersfamilies that could be termed ml e c as d b both toO. . .' h 0 raIl 'class' wrne out to epractiSing or learnmg m t e area. ve, . hi · ft prOVide mue exp anatlon orgeneral and toO ambiguous a concept 0 II· he minotity of both. I . h s espeela y given tpeople's classlca musIC pat way, h t' ely pursuing suchindividuals and families at all levels w 0 were ac IVinterests. , " the other music worlds, with musicalThe same complexity was eVident 111 , than class The main' ediate Importance .family seemingly 0 f more Imm " will J'ust be repeated. . d · h lier chapters, so IeVidence IS summe up In t e ear ' e,·ther rock music norT 19 expectatlonS, nbriefly here that, contrary to preval 11}1}


The significance of loctll nil/sicb b ds could be said to be exclusively or even primarily 'work'rass an , , ', Ing cia .nor was folk music (indeed, If anythIng It was malllly favoured b h: 55;h'I' d ' " , Y Ighleducated practitioners); w I e Jazz an operatic actIVIties were particularlYheterogeneous in terms of SOCial and economic background, Ount Yry andf I Iwestern music was the one orm apparent y c osely connected tooccupations and background traditionally labelled 'working class" but Ihe, evenhere there were exceptions (not least among the Wild Bunch, who fr .quented many country and western music occasions), and it might be rash ~generalise beyond Milton Keynes. C lass-based explanations abour differinmusical pathways are all the more difficult to uphold in view of the fact tha~a single family (one presumably belonging to a single 'class') could conlainmembers involved in different musical worlds or entering on differell!musical paths at different stages of their lives: brass, classical and operatic,for example, or jazz, rock, folk and classical.This is not to say that within particular groups (say, a given choir or jazzband) people were not in practice pulled together by shared social, economicor educational backgrounds; 'class' - if that is the term to sum up suchsimilarities - was certainly not irrelevant. But as an overriding categorisa·tion of individuals and families on particular musical pathways or anexplanation of how and why they entered them, it proved unhelpful. It wasseldom spontaneously mentioned by the musical participants themselveseither (the main exception being musicians at the Open University, whowere also academics), The nearest most people came was in the frequentcomment that for them one of the benefits of music was that jobs oreducation became irrelevant in the context of music-making: 'you meet allkinds of people', As one conductor summed it up, 'brass band players cancome from any kind of background, and any kind of child - with physicalinfirmities, cowardly, brave, big, Iitrle; there are some incredible friendshipsbetween different ends of the social scale ... music is a great leveller'; or -from a brass band secretary - 'we're a common-interest group - that'swhat's important, not "class"'. This kind of thing is easy to say, of course,and actors' assumptions about lack of class constraint can always beinterpreted as complacent naivety rather than accurate insight. But inMilton Keynes musical practice there really did seem a basis of fact for suchassertions. Both at the level of people's own awareness and from anobjective examination, 'class' seemed to have Iitrle significance for people'schoice of musical pathways.There were constraints, of course, on how and why people chose andpractised their music, but most related to less grandiose-sounding facro rs .The specific circumstances of individuals and families often seemed moresignificant than general patterns, so that there were usually a set ofidiosyncratic factors, nonc in themselves of paramount significance, whichinfluenced particular choices and problems, not least the values and interestS


pat JIllays ill urban livingby an ind ividual a nd his/her family and peers. Th .he Id I ' . I e many and vaned. D ences on peop e s mUSICa pathways thus de d dInllU . '. pen e so much on.Individual circumst ances that It would be Impossible t . h II .0 give t em a theirdue weight. But some recurrent patterns already touched on in earlierchapters are worth recalling again briefly.First among these was gender -as indeed will be clear from thephotographs reproduced in this book. Assumptions about 'natural' maleand female actiVIties go deep in our culture, as elsewhere, and often directlyinfluenced musical activities. Growing up in the eighties, boys found itharder than girls to enter on classical music paths as active players andlearners, while girls were less accepted than boys in teenage rock bands. Onboth sides individuals broke through such barriers - perhaps all the moredetermined having done so - but the barriers were there nevertheless. As onehead teacher put it, sport for secondary-school boys was felt as semiobligatoryand music secondary: a boy 'can only have a violin in one hand ifhe has a rugby ball in the other'.Gender could affect not just whether an individual got involved in musicat all, but also the particular musical interest. Choirs of all kinds werechronically short of men, as if choral singing were somehow not so typicallya male as a female activity; but then those men who did choose this pathwaywere often extremely committed - and in demand: some had been attendingseveral different choirs every week for years. In brass bands, by contrast,there were fewer women than men in the older generation, reflecting thetraditional view about the unsuitability of brass blowing for girls, a viewcurrently under challenge, as the high proportion of girls in the youngerbands demonstrated. Within groups toO, gender often affected the actualroles taken up by participants. T his applied partiy to the way in which thedifference between men's and women's voices was highlIghted 10 thedivision into separate parts in four-part choirs, often symbolised by a jokingrelationship between the sexes at choir practices. But It also came out 10 lessobvio us ways. Girls were often (though not always) the smgers In rockbands while boys were drummers, PA experts and drivers, and 10 allbl' I like those of chaIrman, dance-Contexts men tended to take on pu Ie to es . , .ca ller o r conductor, with women called on for back-up typmg, SOCIal. . I h .' of refreshments at practtcessecretary' tasks and, mevltab y, t e proVISion..fi d ' . I19 or con ne to Just muslcaand concerts. No ne of this was at a II surp"SIl - . . hcontexts .. and there were also plenty of excepttons, demonstr3t1I, g tl ar. I pectations rather r h an:l b so utethese gender-Influenced roles were genera ex· . .. .' h t fro m the Imporrant exceprequirements. It was mtcresnng t OO tat, aparHJ western h.ll1d5, rhere wefetton of mo't rock group, and some country .11 , f I d. I [), . 'lire the IInhJI.ll1Ce 0 rn a e anrelatIvely few "'lIlglc-scx muslca gro ups. C ~l .' ' . t, r ' o n ccrt 1111 3C £lvmes, masfemale in many gro ups and th e gender CO l1 sr ralll sot.·bo rh men andwo men.musical pathways depended o n the co-operar lO ll3 1 5


The sigllificO/tce of local musicAge was sometimes a second influential factor. A fewgroupssrratified. Notable among t h ese were t h e teenage popul b wer, agh flil' . at and ,.fo rmed at a time w en age group a latlon was of centtal inA s, oft'nd· . hi I uence aclea r in many a vertlsements In t e oca press on the lines of. ' ' s lIlad,require rhythm guitarist age 16- 18 yeats' or 'Drummer WI' h' StatIC Blu,S esto"form a band with other enthusiastic players. 17 to I9 years ani' lOin Orbecame less important, and older rock bands had players of Y . Later, age. varIed(sometimes a 15- or 2O-year age range). In general, one characte " ages. . ... "stlC ofl Imusical activities was the Wide age tange of the participants. it oea. Was musIcalcompetence an d commitment, not age that counted. Many ch .. OIrS andorchestras con tamed members across several generations bras b' sandsfielded players from 10 to 70 years old, and most orchestral groups rangedfrom teenage learners right through to old age pensioners.This pattern was, again, scarcely surprising given the near lifelong natureof many people's commitment to their chosen musical pathways. Even thosewho for a time withdrew at certain stages of their domestic or working life.cycle (especially women with young children) could return later. Thismixed-age co-operation was something both taken for granted by mostmusical enthusiasts and also explicitly commented on by reflecrive partici.pants. Given the common association in our culture between age andauthority, it is interesting that in local music this tended not to apply. Co·operation and competence bridged age divisions within a general ethic ofmusical equality irrespective of age.Feeding into these patterns were many other associations through whichindividuals were drawn into their musical paths and into particular roleswithin these. Links with specific churches or schools or localities wereinfluential for some, in turn facilitated or hindered by other experiences orties, or by the particular opportunities or constraints to do with jobs, familylinks, local groupings or mobility patterns, access or otherwise (0 a car, orother competing demands on time. Often enough, it seemed partly todepend on accident, and, very important, on particular individuals who, asteachers or friends or models, exercised a far-reaching influence on futuremusical directions.dThere seems, then, to be no single answer- to why particular people finthemselves on one or another of the established musical parhways, leadmgthem in directions shared with many others but still favoured by only aminority of the population at large. A whole series of factors can come In 1-some seemingly just matters of individual accidenr - and rhose peop eperceiving their choices as unfettered and personal ones certainly ,have o~~~part of the truth. Musical paths are volunC3ry, somerhing essennally se. , . for their ownchosen not pnmanly for monetary reasons but 111 some sense" . I k d commitment tosake, somerhll1g too which demands contll1ua wor an f h 'cebalance the undoubted satisfactions. But to this awareness of ree c 013I61f1'\ v ~sonindtr Clif'reIse0 1f'a(


Pathways in urban livingmust also . be added ISO the pattern f const .somellmes . ' I part y outside the actors' 0ramts and oppo rtunI!les .. thindlvldua s towards or away fr . wn awareness - h I at -h h f om particular h e p to drawrrea tern, c Ie among these th . fl pat s, or shape h'f d I h I' k em uences of d t e way theyII e-cyc e, t . e 10 to various oth er social . gen . er, of age ,stage of 10 . therecurs again and again _ famil . groupings and - the .People's following of th . y musical background.POlOt that. elr particular .selecte In the first place _ . I mUSICal pathways - hdIOVO ved more th . oweverot er aspects will be explored f h' an Just music. Some of hhurt er In the h t eseo owe up here since the f next c aptet but two '11 bf II d , yare 0 par' I ' WI eabout urban living raised in this h ncu ar relevance for the questions" c apter. These hpeop e s spanal and temporal e'concern t e structuring ofAd' Ixpenence.~ escnbed earlier, participants in . . ..outSide their own homes and . hb h mUSICal aCllVllles mostly movedh nelg our oods to e . .t rough what according to one model of the . ngage 10 musIC, travellinganonymous urban environment B I k' CIty might seem an ahen andi pathways established in m . U! 00 Ing at this in terms of the familiarexperience Th' . h uSlca pracnce throws a different light on people's. IS IS t e more so whe .. 'd dcurrent " . n It IS cons I ere in conjunction withbut of appro~ch;s to . space In terms not of objective distance or direcrionspati I pelople sh.cognltlve maps' or the symbolic classificarions of rheira re atlons IpS.7The musical pathways (like others) can be envisaged as stretching our andcriss-crossing through the town. Physical distance was nor in itself a barrierto mo~ca I I musIC-rna . k' Ing (though social access could be), and people regularlyed out of their ImmedIate localines by foot, cycle, car, bus or taxi to oneor more regular meeting-places. This did not usually mean pioneeringstrange localities, though there were always first rimes and relarive unfamiliaritieson the way, but of following known and in the subjecrive sense'near' pathways. To outsiders the 'back streets' in Fenny Strarford seemedout of the way, as did the complicated and 'remore' venue of rhe GladiatorClub (off the bus route and over the cramped canal bridge ar rhe playingfields on the edge of Bletchley) - yet to rhe regular attenders of rhe AmareurOperatic Society'S Wednesday evening practices on rhe one hand, or rhefrequenters of the fortnightly country and wesrern music club on rhe orher,they were near and familiar. Similarly, the journeys in rurn to Aspley Guise10 one dlTecrion and Stony Srrarford in anorher were close parhs for rhose inthe jan world, while the singers who wenr our every Wednesday evening tothe Sherwood CholT "' the sporrs pavil,on beside rhe pla)ing field. so hard tofind for our"dc", fo\lowed a regulnr and familiar roure. SubjeCtIvely rheynever travelled far , .• certainly .• not ro 'alien' ., locahflcs. . I clemenr of movillgTravdltn~ In allU bcyonu the (Ity ulU 111\0 vc .111·h h f' ".1,,, destinations; burt roug an unh h known environment to rcac.:: r c .11 • rhways were pun c -hfrom the viewpOint of tho..,c ,...·Ith c"pcnc nt e : t elf PJ . 3 1 7


The sIgnificance of local musicd by known landmarks. There were the houses of friendsware, colled reachers churches, schools or pubs where people had hea dagUe,an , r Or .erformances halls where they had rehearsed, streets Or squaresP , d M' f werethh givenhad witnessed a brass ban or a orns group per ormance, sho ey. d " I d h . A ps whethey had bought musIC or ISP aye t elf posters. gang of youn remeeting to travel to London for a concert might seem to be under~at~~Plelengthy journey; but If the partiCipants were bound together b g aexample, their shared passion for their local band the Crew and Y'd for, ten ezvoused at the White Hart, where the Crew had so often performed to th "-plaudits, then travelled together in their jointly hired coach to cheer on th eltband collectively in the national competition and return late at night eilttriumph, it was only a small extension of their already known paths. Eve~going to as yet unvisited localities for some familiar purpose meant somepredictability in otherwise strange contexts. Think of a band going to piaat an unknown pub, for example, an experienced choral singer joining a ne~choir, a folk enthusiast attending different clubs throughout the COUntry:because of the known and established pathways, people could move throughapparently wide spaces and not see them as presenting serious obstacles ofeither distance or of the cold impersonality sometimes assumed typical ofurban life outside the home.One feature of local musical activities is worth recalling again: theirregularity. Most choirs, instrumental groups, operatic societies, music clubs,music teaching and popular bands met repeatedly in the same place. Theroutes were thus regular ones, pathways that telescoped what might bedistant in other respects and that could be perceived as under the participants'control. There was no single musical 'community', but neither werethere merely alien bricks and mortar; rather, musical participants markedout their own social and spatial settings by the pathways they drew throughthe town and in the venues and actions which in a sense constituted andsanctified these paths. It is not only non-literate peoples who, as described inthe standard anthropological work, develop a specific 'world view' thtoughwhich their spatial classifications are structured in parallel to their dominantinterests and values. The same could be seen in the activities and movementsof late-twentieth-century musical practitioners in Milton Keynes.In modern urban society, as elsewhere, people also order rheir lives interms of 'time' - another well-known topiC in social SCience, where the stressi, now often on the SOCIal me and perception of time rather than ItS'obJective mea,urement'_' Going on from there, a cOntr.lSt has also oftenbeen made oetwecll the 'ratlollal' or 'dod.:'-domin.lted time resultmgfrom Indu trlali atlon and the ',on.,lh' or ·"C\i,.rlly· otlent.lted tlrne heldto be typical of non·lIldusttl., I 'I l "h r wldel)" helievedeU tures.' Is",distinCtion about which th


p.,1 I " .1"r\,5 ill tlrbtl" liLlingne pertlOent example is the folk m "O 'u '" l1Slll~\n 1l1CIHIO, s alsa 3n eleemc"1 engllleer in a 10cII n' lie II. chapler 6 whot I'ust by hIS war - though this was I Se tlllle was ordered,," ' k . nil .llId who " 'n O. one c emenr b l .ommitmentS, For him the real it)· of h "ut 'Y hIS evellingc IS eXistence rhra,l ."eek after week after week, structured b), h' " ug lOut tllllC was,\ IS mUSical Inter . fof the week was marked by the particular folk club he .,ests: or each daynight: Monday, the Hogsty Folk Club T • j TI p. rtlclpated III that, UeSt "y, Ie Black H F IkClub", and so on through the week. Other folkmUSICians" I'lad sun, orseliar cyclesaThese were extreme cases - people who 'lived f or f a Ik' - b ut !ley I were 1I0t 'unparalle I e d , T h ere were many . individuals~whose \ ve e kl y eye I C f OCtlsse d onfour, five or even more . evelllngs or weekends . "t -, re gu I :Ie mUSlca ' I engagementson top of full-time employment dunng the day, There was the middleschoolteacher who accompanied the local Gilbert and Sullivan group onMondays and Thursdays and a choir on Wednesdays, played the cello in theWolverton Light Orchestra on Tuesdays, and sometimes percussion in ayouth wind band on Fridays; or the instrumental teacher who, not COlltenrwith all-day musical work, spent Wednesday evenillgs conducting a choir,Thursdays in the Sherwood Sinfonia, Fridays and Saturday morningsconducting a wind band, and playing concerts with his own group mostweekends; or the small band members, like those in Offbeat or theMemories, who met to practise three rimes or more in the week. It was noruncommon either for brass band players to belong to more than one band,each demanding twO practices a week and frequent public performances,and many keen singers belonged to tWO, even three choirs, like rhe renorwho spent Tuesdays at the Fellowship Choir, Wednesda)'s at the SherwoodChoir, and Thursdays at the Canzonetta Singers, ,The timing of musical events followed similar weekly pattenung, Pubs" d d y (or days) of the week,normally arranged their hve muSiC on a name a . ', b 'Id a habit among their clientele of c1asSlfylllg, say, everytrying to UI up b The local folk and jazz clubsFriday night as the one to be spent at that Ph u ' h I nthusiasts (like the, kl les so t at t e rea ewere also orgamsed on wee Y eye Off liar most evenings in the" b ) Id t a dl erent one afolk mUSICian a ove cou go a , bl' h 'tself had to rake accountI b YlOg to esta IS Iweek; thus a new c u or venue It k w' h the popular Muzaks club, ' hrs of the wee ' w en ,of other pulls on given mg h anisers chose Mondays as awas founded at a New Bradwell pub t edolrg 'htly country music club, 'd h Blue Yo e f·ortmg 'd 'night when httle was on ,an t e , I h'f d frolll Thursdays to Fn a) s, 8 qUICk Y s • te I b Astarted by the White Hart 10 19 I d h d other competing c u s,when they discovered that Thursdays al re Y G a both to fill the hole in theirla, f lded t lC 'I' d hg roup of local rock enthus .. stS au. '1.71ks Oil t-Iondays an t e, h • bet"'CCll ,,' . h' k' dkInd of music and 'to btldge t e gap) .dlct ,hie weekly p,ltterlls of t ISWcdnc~day Woughton Rock Nlre~. I n; k:."l Il"onH'l1tions of 10c.ll ml1SI~.1d rffen lIn~po c.:11, k on muSIC.were parr of the 3f4rec 1 O • nt.' cvcnttl}l J. wc.:C,I onlY ~pc.:nt 0~ tltloner~, even () f t h o~C \\ 10 ' .319


The .. gil/fie.",,,, ol/oul ""'St,They formed one o


hgurt J I An lInnual ,c1chratlon of mUSK and dJnu.'" th tbfolk Dance h !.tlval vtlth slxtcC'n I§(hools Jnd u -h IJ C' l!J BJct"hlc, Pum.lfY000 L I ren partK:~thoolFebruary and anralllng several thousand entr.,n!> •• n.! Xlre, 01 hrlr e " Oragam h' h ' wa~ there the ' F 0 Ik on t h e ( ,reen• d a) e,er June 'one 01 tht 1.1I11l1y .Ig . spotS of the local mu"cal yeM'. .,,,:or,itllg 10 • 10,.11 tt.llher .1IldmUSICianwhich had tome to hl· known b\' buth rhr \,000 Of !oU p .trtKlp.ll\f\and the local re;ldent' as once Illore th,' 1.1Imit.lr 11m,' for the 'wny \rr.1I(orOcelebrallons. There WJ' al,o the I.trg,··,\..,il· I


, I • • • J ,•• •••, ,,• • ,• •,• ••• • • • • , •-,-.-- • ,The slgmficance of local musicValenrine's Day, Burns Night, St Patrick's Night, Easter, MidsHoliday weekends In . Mayan d A ugust, Hal I' Owe en and New limmer y " B 'nkDoubtless it suited the pubs and others to fix On such dates ear s ~'e,customers, but It , was stJ 'II slgnl . 'fi cant t h at lh ose were the ones to drawU d In. ,SCtoout the paSSIng of the year. Edmund Leach s comment is as ap I' m arkEnglish as to non-industrial culture: 'We talk of measuring tim/ ~eafble toh ' "b db , Slwere a concrete t mg waltmg to e measure; ut in fact we create ( tllll ecreating intervals in social life. Until we have done this thete is no t' line bymeasured' (Leach 1966, p. 135)'Ime to beFor almost all kinds of music, Christmas was the high point of the m 'year. That was the season when, all through December and with inereaUSi.ealIntensIty, ,asChnstmas' 0'ay ItseIfapproached, musical groups of all kindsSingwere putting on concerts, appearing at parties, singing carols in the stre crs,the schools and the old people's homes, playing brass instruments OUt ofdoors, holding special carol services, and performing musical nativity plays,This was the time of year too when musicians were in demand, often boundinto different performances for days or nights on end or torn betweenconflicting commitments, There was a festival quality at this seasondistinguished from the rest of the year by a series of ceremonial markers, butpre-eminently by music. To quote Leach again:All over the world men mark out their calendars by means of festivals .. , among theva rious functions which the holding of festivals may fulfil, one very imporramfunction is the ordering of time. The interval between two successive festivals of thesame rype is a 'period', usually a named period, e.g. 'week', 'year', Withom [hefesrivals, such periods would not exist, and all order would go au( of social life(Leach 1966, pp, 132, 134-5)Ir was through the recurrent rituals of the year - Christmas above all, butalso all the other musical celebrations observed in the locality, large or small- that people's consciousness of time was in part created and the intervals insocial life marked out.This leads back once more to the earlier discussion, for if we follow anemergent definition of 'community', then it could be argued that periodicmusical festivals can indeed playa part in how - in a situational and relanveway - people can experience a sense of 'community', musically defined andmarked, at certain points in the unfolding of the year. As Roger Abrahamsput it In his discussion of rituals in culrure,How may we even go about defining community for ourselves when .there 3re so,many conflicting . claims on our I oya I" ties. ... C' Ivcn the direction of society today, .~upposc we mu~t say Simply that communities WIII d e fi nc ,themselves '.35 they . organize b hInto communJ[Je~, and that the d ccpc~r parr 0 f this oro ~. 11ll13f10n . Will ereestablishment of tltual, (r977, pp. 46-'7).- . ~ of community, howeverAmong the foundatiom for thiS emergent sense32 2••, ,-, ,


ill "rbill1 lillillg1)" 1/1 1,,,),5 , 'al and Sl[llatlonal, must be included thhe",er. bl " , e work put b I 'ep f ning the pu IC rituals which thems I ' y ocal musicians' ,to ort , d I' eves 1I1 turn h III , I realisation an cyc Ical shaping of hi " e p to create the(e sUva t e ocallnes in which theracuse, , yp rhe ordering,ofdtime,hthereforeh loot- and hence f her shared sy bId.rices _ In an t roug ocal music is not aft II m 0pras ane ' er a so very differ fre social and symbolIC cycles so commonly d 'b d f ,ent romhh h' escn e or non-Industrialcultures, " It seems f' t at t f' e theorists who " see a rad' Ica I d' IVI 'd e ' In the sOCIal ,organIsanon " 0 f time a ter " Industnallsation have mlsse ' d some of thecharacterIstiCS 0 . our . contInUIng cultural reality" . I n t h' elf regu I ar muslCmakinglocal , mUSIClans " and their associates are dominat e d not b y mat h ema-'tically ranonal prlnClples but by socially recognised and recurrent practices:the weekly, seasonal or yearly cycles set by and in the habitual musicalpathways they jointly share with others,One way of looking at people's musical activities is therefore to see themas taking place along a series of pathways which provide familiar directionsfor both personal choices and collective actions, Such pathways form oneimportant - if often unstated - framework for people's participation inurban life, something overlapping with, but more permanent and structuredthan, the personal networks in which individuals also participate, Theyform broad routes set out, as it were, across and through the city, They tendto be invisible to others, but for those who follow them they constitute aclearly laid thoroughfare both for their activities and relationships and forthe meaningful structuring of their actions in space and time, Somepathways are made up of the regular activities related to membership of, b d f I - extending more broadly - toparncular local brass an s, 'I or examp 'I e, or basis' others to, mvolvement ' mbrass band activity on a reglOna or natlo na d erformances' , others agam . toclassical orchestral or chora , I groupS f Ik an u P s and clubs, , to operatiC , orcountry and western mus,c, to a gro I P cilic musical or' f orc narroW y, to some spepantomime per ormances, or, m . . N t all involve organised, I'k h I cal IrIsh SOCIety. apartly mUSICal group let eo, f II d by individuals like theh practices a owegroups, for there are a I so t e " local churches where, oncethe organIstS an'private instrumenta I teae h ers or . . h ccepred conventions about, gmsed one Wit aagain, the pathway IS areca 'I religiOUS functions. These many, 'I ducanona or h' h Ithelf roles and rhelf mUSlCa , e bl' h d vays through w It\I sta IS e \. . peop d b eIP athways then are Cll tura y e hnr _ however unnonce Y, , ' , ' ' habitual patterns t .structure thelf actlVlnes on d 'th others, 'outSiders arc known to and share ~' d spite their continuity over (lme,Such pathways arc relative only an ~ t~e picture conveyed by t~e marcchan""n", rather than absolutc unhk ,f 'world' or 'conlillunity . peo P le,JcJ concept' ( . , f bnlili," pathsconcrctc . ... ound'nv, ~1Jl(. I h OUt h I It ,Ion" .\ scru.: S t \lIP. 'll' f" , o· I sere Whfollow out their hve.., not f rom nU 'h'lr O\\n 1l1JI\·ldu. t route .((lId t C1Ifro m which (he}, VJrlUU' Y cOll"t 33


The sIgnificance of local m llsiceople's own pa rhs touch on and share with others - as So~o nrex rs - rhey find themselves on well-trodden parhways 0 rhe n In Illu", d' 'd I d ' d ' " ere 41[h e openings to 10 IVI ua e Vlance an Innova tion Ce ' \\' ltn aU' h d ' rtatn pred'conventions are alrea d y esra bl IS e , Some parhways are w'd letabll er andL'known (shared with large numbers of people and extending f be "':tl"I, h ar \'0 dimmediate loca Ity), ot ers are narrower; some are well trodd ,n Ih,marke' h f I ' en and cId out wit ew a ternatlve roures, others larger with ea,l)" d mote rooindee d nee d - f or va nation an new starts; some are highly , rn -, partlcul(the pathway followed perhaps by Just one small idiosyncratic local r~"S!lCby a band with a distinctive vOice of its own); others, like the ch g upo,their own individual ' personalities', include some unique featu Olts I\' l!h. res, yet JOI -the broad stream of the widespread choral tradition in this cou n InyIndividual participation in these pathways varies too of cou nrr F ,. ' rsc . Or SOntepeop I e a parncular pathway (brass bands, for example) is a If Icommitment - a pilgrimage from cradle to grave' while for othe 'he ong" ' ~tat, o ,another, pathway IS something they follow less continuously h, "" , ' per apsIeavlng at certain pOints In thelt bves tQ return again later, perhaps on II'coming In at one stage, Even for the intermittent participants, though, th~pathway of shared expectations still in a sense remains irrespective of theirown absences and presences, a structured and predictable channel for theirparticipation,Note again, though, that the musical pathways form only one pan of theirparticipants' lives. Even the 'cradle-tQ-grave' follower may only spend acertain proportion of life in musical practice and is bound to have otherinterests and ties too: family obligations, other leisure activities, perhaps aseries of jobs or other full- or part-time work commitments, and so on - inother words, many other pathways as well as the musical ones.In this sense the multiplicity of pathways matches the heterogeneity oftenseen as characteristic of urban life, the overlap of many relatively distinctpaths reflecting the many-sided, situational, often changing lives that peoplelead in towns today. But they bring, too, a sense of belonging and reality:travelling not in an alien environment but along familiar paths in time andspace, in family continuity and habitual action. The pathways have theircontinuities too. They depend on regular sets of largely predictable andpurposeful activities that it is easy to overlook if attention is focussedprimarily on networks of individuals or the interaction of multiple specialinterestgroups. Not everyone follows these particular pathways, of course.But those who do are scarcely likely to agree either with the anonymousletter-writer complaining of the lack of 'community spirit' in Milton ~eynesor with social theorists positing impersonality, alienation or calculation asthe basis of urban life. For they are themselves forging and keeping open theroutes which to them bring not just value and ~,eaning, b~t on~ frameworkEo I··, d tl'me The specific conditions Within Milton Keynesr Ivmg 10 space an .f


pathways in urban livingo r anY locality) . are h likely to be uniqu e, b ut I hav d(00(have their . pat b ways which represent nelt . h er e t" no h oubt k . that oth er townsalien anonymity . . ut b one . established . a n d h a b· Itual Ig t- · mt 'commu mty . , nor. op e nd(heir meaning m ur an hvmg way In which pe I fithese pathways, . then, are one of t h e ways In . h· hurban environment . d organise their liv es so as to man w IC people with· In anheterogeneity an multiplicity of rei· atlons h. IpS cha· age, on the one hand ' th epectS 0 mo ern society, and on th h ractenstic of many as-.1.. f d d ' eoter,thatse fbfaml lartty an personally controlled meamng . that · nse I0 oth predictableIn our culture there are many path h IS a so part of human life. h. I ways t at people d d .Wit In emp oyment, schooling ho h Id 0, an must, follow -. h. h ' use 0 s, sport ch h h·ldWit In t ese many paths who . ' urc, c I -rearing.. ' IS to say that the h dmUSIC are the least important ' eithe r f or t h. elr partIcipant . . pat ways . to h 0 . Ii withmix 0 crossways that make u an b . s or In t e In niteculture? fp ur an locahty and, ultimately, ourthere is one final point to re-emphasise. This is that the continuance ofthese pathways - so often either ignored or taken for granted as 'just there'­?epe~ds not on the eXistence in some abstract sphere of particular musicalwor s', but on people's collective and active practice on the ground. Thestrucrure and extent of this work by the local grass-roots musicians and theirsupporters often goes unrecognised. Many examples have been given inearher chapters, but the general point must be stressed again: thesepathways of music-making are not 'natural' ones that cut their own waythrough the bush, but were opened up and kept trodden by those whoworked them. This is very clear with innovative forms of music-making,where people are creating new pathways; but exactly the same point appliesto keeping up the older established paths where even 'tradition' means activefosterage if it is to be maintained. Some people can drop out from time totime, but enough must continue to keep the paths clear so that when onegroup dissolves or one individual passes on their work is replaced orcomplemented by that of others. The old picture of blind tradition passingmechanically down the generations, as if irrespective of human act, is easilyrejected once made explicit, but it still often influences us intO assuming thatperforman~es, our accepted cultural forms _ classical music tmas church chOIrs,brass bands, rock groupS in pubs, carol singing at Chns - somehowcarryon automatically..Onbthe contrary.hTheseds ofpathspeoplemayupbeandtroddendowndeep,thesurable quantity of personalbut they only contInue ecaus e t ous an .country put thousands of hours andan unmea Pter Burke put . It ate f hI· c as SIca 1Acommitment into keeping them open. s eculture of earlier centuries:d cribed in terms of metaphors likeThe classical tradition ... has often been eS k ff t co remember [hat, . I ,. h . "I '. "e needs to rna e an e or3survtva . or 10 entance or egacy 2 5I 0


The significance of local musicthis inheritance was not automatic, that it depended on beating some know ledcertain classical aut hors mto generatIon a ter generanon a sc oolboys (1980 )· . f . f h geof, p. 4 .Exactly the same point could be made of the traditions of local music_making in modern rowns and the manner in which they - among otherpathways - constitute the structure and rituals through which people liveout their lives. Some paths go out of use, others are kept trodden only with astruggle, some seem for a time effortlessly open. But all depend on theconstant hidden cultivation by active participants of the musical practicesthat, with all their real (not imaginary) wealths and meanings, keep in beingthe old and new cultural traditions within our society.

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