‘In the Mix’: Recalibrating Music, Heritage and Place

Posted on April 29, 2020


This part of my series of posts on conference presentations, that I have filmed. This is another one from the TAG conference, but this time – 2018’s:

Session Info

Musicians create works to reflect on and document place, landscape and identity (think Sibelius, DJ Kool Herc, The Watersons). Place-makers, designers and architects recognise and draw influence from creative industry, while some places cultivate their own sonic landscapes (the ‘sound of the suburbs’); music can also generate tourism. Heritage involves critical reflection on past, present and future, through increasingly diverse sources, methods, perspectives and audiences. It is tempting to place heritage (as process and practice) at the heart of this ‘music/place’ ecosystem, providing an open forum for discourse and creative practice. But recent research appears to suggest that for some (usually younger, urban) audiences, a combination of music with heritage (or music as heritage) provides an alternative and arguably better route to (often digital) place attachment. One might also draw analogy between the creative practices of producers and DJs, with those of heritage practitioners and place makers: remix as metaphor, tape as palimpsest, records as records. Contributions to this session are invited that reflect critically on issues related to these and other interconnections (or ‘mixes’) involving music, heritage and place. Contributors from a full range of subject backgrounds are invited, to create a multidisciplinary compilation, a ‘mixtape’. Contributions can take a variety of forms. We particularly welcome performance pieces that sit within the framework of the session.

John Schofield (University of York)

Liam Maloney (University of York)

Guardians of Runes and Makers of Memories: The Soundscape and Cosmology of the Norwegian Band Wardruna


One of the most important concepts defining the ‘presence of the past’ – and consequently the idea of cultural heritage – is memory. The study of memory – originally one of the five elements of rhetoric – goes back to antiquity. From Aristotle to Boncompagno da Signa memory was a twofold concept: the act itself of remembering but also the act of handing down historical traditions through knowledge and understanding. Memory, as knowledge, was perceived as visual and many historical monuments stored within themselves ancient memories.
Taking Wardruna as a case study, their unique and innovative approach to ancient traditions, their active interaction with their cultural heritage and the consequent national and international interest in Wardruna’s loci sacri, this paper wants to discuss and expand the discourse of memory as visual and most importantly as auditory concept.

Debora Moretti (Independent Researcher) and Einar Selvik (Wardruna)

The Northern Anxiety of Terveet Kädet: From Global Buzz to Unknown Local Heritage


A hardcore-punk band Terveet Kädet from the town of Tornio in northern Finland reached global audience in 1980s, and the location was essential for its music. As the sole border town to Sweden, Tornio was the place in Finland to keep up with the current international beat in music, comics and hardcore porn. The singer ‘Läjä’ Äijälä, the only permanent band member until the disbandment in 2015, mixed these sources of inspiration with the northern anxiety: a peculiar state of mind stemming from harsh climate and oppressive inward-turned society. The resulting mix is undeniably barbarous, but also unique and strangely appealing. Surprisingly, in 2010s Terveet Kädet transmuted from an unfamiliar oddity into local heritage. As with the case of Sex Pistols and 6 Denmark Street, this was ill conceived by the general public, thus calling attention to the processes of heritagization and sensemaking of the experienced past at present.

Janne Ikäheimo (University of Oulu) and Katariina Vuori (freelance
writer/literary art instructor)

Space and Place in English Morris Dance


Morris dancing is one of England’s traditional display dance traditions. Arising from localised practice in the South Midlands, it was revived from a near moribund state in the early 20th century. This paper traces the relationship between place and the Morris tradition. It began as a way of making and contesting place within a very circumscribed spatial area with strong local affiliations. However, through the process of recording, revival and reworking it has become increasingly disembedded from these literally ‘parochial’ contexts and come to be identified with wider regional and national identities. There is though a counter-narrative to this move towards a national conception of the tradition, with particular places and locations intimately linked with morris dancing’s history still retaining a mystique as sites of pilgrimage, return and reaffirmation of continuity. This paper will bring together text, sound and video to explore the relationship between place, space and traditional dance.

David Petts (Durham University)

Notes of, Notes on, Footnotes


Footnotes, a composition written between 1983 and 1985 by a composer allegedly named William Brooks, was recorded between 2011 and 2018 by guitarist Stefan Östersjö and sound engineer Jez Wells, with the help of William Brooks, musicologist. It became evident to the three collaborators that the overall project required the construction of a set of different identities for each participant: guitar, guitarist; score, composer; hardware, engineer. This presentation traces the construction of, distinction between, and eventual representation of, those identities. It considers the extent to which a single entity—personality, place, artifact, or historical event—can be regarded as a collection of irreconcilable differences; whether those differences can be constituted as a series of masks or persona; and whether anything can truly be said to reside behind those masks.

William Brooks (University of York), Jez Wells (University of York) and Stefan Östersjö (University of Piteå)

Remediating the Mythical: Heritage Culture & Artists-as-Intermediaries


The paper discusses initial findings from research into the heritage culture of British folk-tales and how such material can be made relevant to contemporary audiences via artistic re-mediation. Given that the specificity of artistic production has long been acknowledged, the paper considers the artists as ‘cultural intermediaries’ (Bourdieu 1984) – actors occupying the conceptual space between production and consumption – in an artistic process which mediates between professional(ised) and everyday heritage consumption. The paper focuses on the processes and pressures involved with practice-based research and collaboration with different kinds of performers, in a project which actively places composition in its social context through involving audiences and the commercial arts sector in a process designed to remediate heritage culture. Research data offers reflective analysis of the self-conceptualisation of artists working as both performer and researcher within the project, and their negotiations of agency, autonomy and ‘creative reciprocity’ within a collaborative process.

Steven Hadley (University of Sheffield), Fay Hield (University of Sheffield and Carolyne Larrington (University of Oxford)

Where You Are, There You Are: Relating Ruin Experience with the Creative Process


In line with my practice of composing ‘musical ruins’, I have previously attempted to create music that somehow is an architectural ruin; an analogy that has proved tenuous at best. However, in a recent commission, I explore ways of equating ruin experience to the compositional process itself. By recording my own reflections from a visit to the ruinous Radcliffe Tower and redirecting these toward my musical borrowing of a Philippe de Vitry motet, I hope to render the latter as a malleable heritage object. I will give a brief overview of my artistic practice before describing the creative processes undertaken with this commission, as well as the critical thinking that informed and resulted from these processes. These include issues surrounding New Materialism, creative-autoethnography, and narrative empathy. How does the musical object, via my experience of the Tower, act upon me and how do I relate this to a listener?

Mark Dyer (Royal Northern College of Music)

Memory and Place in Songwriting and Production: The Magnetic North 


The Magnetic North are a UK based music collective comprising Erland Cooper, Simon Tong and Hannah Peel, who have come together to release two albums which move between autobiography, psychogeography and hauntology. The first album ‘Orkney: The Symphony Of The Magnetic North’ was inspired by a dream by Cooper and developed into a soundtrack of his birth place, the Scottish archipelago of Orkney, and Cooper’s relationship to that place. The second album refers to the birthplace of Tong: the New Town of Skelmersdale in the North of England. This was a very different prospect and so needed a different approach. In the resulting album ‘Prospect of Skelmersdale’, the band use lyrics, arrangements and additional sound effects and archive voice recordings to embody not only the birth and legacy of a new town but also the memories of Tong growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s.

Carl Flattery (Leeds Beckett University)

The Sculptor’s Cave: Virtual Acoustics, Field Recording and Composing the Sounds of Place


A sense of ‘presence’ in a place often results from a convergence of unique acoustic and environmental characteristics that render it ‘special’—a found-and-then-cultivated sonic landscape. The Sculptor’s Cave in Moray, NE Scotland is such a place, as evidenced by its recurrence and longevity as a locus for ritual activity. The Covesea Caves Project (Armit, Büster) and the using Virtual Reality and Archaeoacoustic Analysis to Study and exhibit Presence project (VRAASP; Wolfe) have collaborated on a retextured and sonified 3D model of the Sculptor’s Cave, based on an archaeologically-informed field walk and creative realization derived from the acoustics inherent to this enigmatic site. The resulting work will use place as material, with the field work as programme note, in order to exhibit the unique features of the cave (both archaeological and modern) as interactive and present heritage.

Kristina Wolfe (University of Huddersfield), Ian Armit (University of Leicester) and Lindsey Büster (University of Bradford)

Manchester’s Improving Daily: How a Northern Quarter Music Venue was Crucial in the Reinterpretation of 19th-Century Broadside Ballads


Band on the Wall is a music venue with a unique past, and the kind of venue that acts as a hub for various communities and cultural movements, becoming in itself ‘a transient product of the activities of remembering and reminiscing, which take place in the context of social interaction… between people and their environments’ (Jones and Russell 2012: 270).
Located in an area long associated with a dissenting tradition reflected in notable musical, political and artistic events, the venue is part of a wider cultural landscape that has developed a unique sense of place through the various social networks using the building for decades, and is therefore key to the influence of, and on, the communities involved. This paper will discuss the cultural heritage manifest in music venues, focusing on Band on the Wall and the activities taking place within, as represented by the recent Manchester’s Improving Daily

David Jennings (University of York)

Notes on the “Musical Archive”


This paper takes its starting point from the work of Modiano and Vismann, to propose tentative notes around the archaeology of a musical ‘scene’; focusing on that which began in northwest England with bands such as The Smiths and culminated with the ‘Madchester’ scene of the 1990’s. In distinction to the appropriation of identifiable ‘significant sites’ by the culture industry (The Hacienda, The Boardwalk…etc), our departure point is the Vismann/Modiano paradox: what is important is always absent/ever from the archive. We will also be concerned with different ways in which traces and memories can be followed through the music and other congruent archives. This paper is about the ‘almost…’ that both constitutes, and makes impossible, the archive: the chance encounter of Bowie and Morrissey on King’s Road.

Adam Gearey (Birkbeck College, University of London) and Ben Gearey (University College Cork)

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