Singing the Rights We Do Not Possess The Rights of Community Music
Dr. Dave Camlin, Sage Gateshead / University of Sunderland
The history of Community Music (CM) has been formed from debate around alternative models to the traditional ‘aesthetic’ forms of music education which have predominated until recently. While this ‘praxial turn’ within music education has been influential in broadening access, a complete integration of the values and principles which underpin CM practice into mainstream music education is not achieveable while the need to champion CM as a discreet practice remains. As non-professional performers, CM provides the means for participants to enact the rights (to perform) that they do not otherwise possess, and this contradiction remains unresolved.
On the one hand, CM is still needed as a term because it signifies the right for participatory music to be taken seriously as a form of ‘musicking’ (Small 1998, p.9). On the other, the need to separately identify itself in relation to other kinds of music in order to make its claim to validity and equality as a musical form, is itself a signifier of its lack of validity, because ‘rights are either void or tautological’ (Ranciere 2003, p.69). Saying that we have to take Community Music seriously is to acknowledge that it isn’t always taken seriously. Ironically, if it was always taken seriously, we wouldn’t have to assert that it should be taken seriously. By insisting on labelling it and viewing it discretely from other forms of musicking, we reinforce its position and status as ‘other’.
In this paper, I ask the question whether it is time for the CM profession to re-imagine CM, not as a discreet field of practice, but as a set of values and principles which form an integral part of a holistic approach to ‘musicking’ for people and society. Or if not now, then when? What conditions would necessitate such a paradigmatic shift? I offer one possible ‘frame’ for such a re-imagining, emerging from the practices of Sage Gateshead in the UK: an integrated model of musicking which recognises the creative tension between ‘aesthetic’ and ‘praxial’ dimensions of music as a positive force for raising musical quality, especially when allied with a third ‘social’ dimension of music’s power i.e. its capacity for individual self-actualisation, interpersonal and social transformation.
BiographyDr. Dave Camlin, Sänger, Liedermacher, Pädagoge und Wissenschaftler aus Cumbria, tritt als Solomusiker und mit seinen Bands Mouthful und The Coast Road auf. Er ist Leiter der Abteilung Higher Education & Research des Sage Gateshead, und seine Forschungsinteressen konzentrieren sich vor allem auf die Themen Gesang und Community Music.