Our music, our world: Musical associations, wind bands, and local communities (1880-2018)
This study addresses the musical practice that is voluntarily developed in musical associations/communities. The specific focus is on wind bands, institutions which - despite playing an important role in the lives of Portuguese people for decades – only began to attract academic interest from the turn of the century onwards (Herbert 2000; Binder 2006; Reily and Brucher 2013). This is due to the persistence of musicological studies in Portugal which promote an essentialist paradigm of culture, rejecting practices that fall between the elite artistic and cultural activities and the "people", in addition to the symbolic violence of a dominant culture and academic knowledge that has disqualified in- between practices (Gutierrez 2014; Santos 2003). The subject under research is dynamic and interstitial but is at the centre of the local social life. This research project explores: 1) the contribution to the artistic, (life-long) educational, professional, cultural and economic development of communities which it contextualises; 2) the generation of creativity, the weaving of communities (whether stable, fluid or fragmented) and of identities, representing places, contextualising conflicts, constructing public spaces and reshaping the local soundscape. This research will question the ways and contexts in which musical practice constructed those dimensions, the underlying reasons and the beneficiaries. Hence, this research on music and culture is based on the dialectic between musical practices and their agents, and on the social and political structures that contextualize, and give them shape and meaning. This perspective is grounded in practice theory - as proposed by authors such as Pierre Bourdieu (1977), Bell (1992); Sahlins (2000); Ortner (2006) - and in Cultural Studies (Frith, 1996; Hall 1997; Clayton, Herbert, and Middleton 1997).
The project’s objectives are as follows:
1. To compile a database featuring relevant documentation:
1.1 documents collected in archives, estates and libraries (published and unpublished texts, such as correspondence and minutes; musical compositions, sound recordings and images),
1.2 documents resulting from surveys conducted with musical associations/communities and conductors and 1.3 documents produced through fieldwork research (field notes, sound recordings, images, interviews, ....);
2. To systematically and critically study the field constructed around associations/communities, with a particular emphasis on the protagonists (musicians, conductors, composers, and other promoters), events (performances/constructed situations (Bishop 2006), concerts, competitions, other events, ...), and institutions;
3. To understand their impact on local society (music education, inter-generational share of knowledge, and on long-life-learning);
4. To discuss the role of music in social construction, in the realignment of thoughts, and in the experimentation and reformulation of social norms and values.
5. To contribute to a better understanding of the social dimension of musical participation, physical involvement and collective presence.
6. To disseminate relevant documentation collected during the research, with a view towards future studies, through the provision of an online database.
7. To prepare and publish critical monographs, ethnographic and life story studies.
8. To publish papers in international scientific journals; 9. To discuss and divulgate the research outputs in national and international conferences, such as the ICTM World Conference, the SEM (Society for Ethnomusicology) Annual Conference, and Performa, which will take place at the University of Aveiro 2017; to organise an international conference in June 2018.
In order to provide an interdisciplinary, systematic and critical approach to musical practice and ideas such as 'art' and 'culture' in the context of musical associations, this project’s team includes research centres and researchers from the fields of ethnomusicology, cultural studies, performance studies, educational sciences, sciences of information and communication, and archive and patrimony studies. Through the combination of diachronic and synchronic approaches, this project applies mixed-methods: bibliographical and archival research, participant observation and interviews, extensive surveys, the promotion of dialogue and experience, and the musical performance as a source of knowledge. The time frame is based on a recent study that explained the increase in modern citizenship in Portugal in the year 1880, characterized by the voluntary and concerted participation of citizens in the public life of the communities to which they belonged, particularly musical associations (Pestana 2014). Based on preliminary research, a range of musical associations/communities were selected for this project, thus facilitating access to their particular sources and collections.