We begin by contextualising the work and organisation of musicians in
Britain prior to the formation of the AMU in 1893.1 To do so, we consider
the challenges facing those working as musicians. These have long centred on
the low pay and social status conferred upon professional musicians. Indeed,
the very notion of music as work has often proved problematic, and work as
a full-time (and adequately paid) musician has generally been attainable for
only a small, elite group of musicians. The others have formed an often
This book is a history of the British Musicians’ Union (MU) from its origins in 1893 to 2013. It uses the Union as a prism through which to examine changes in musicians’ working lives, the industries they work in and wider British society. It argues that musicians can best be considered as particular sorts of worker and that while the MU’s history has hitherto largely been ignored or marginalised, it has much to teach us about musicians, their working lives and the power dynamics of the music industries.
An Interview with Celso Amorim, Former Brazilian Foreign Minister
. In the case of Paraguay, to
maintain peaceful relations we made concessions in relation to payment for electricity from the
Itaipu Dam. So it isn’t about being nice. It is about seeing where there is mutual interest in the
long run. And if something is good for South America in general, it will be good for us. JF: [Brazilian musician and writer] Chico [Buarque] said of Lula that he
‘speaks neither fawningly with Washington, nor discourteously with Bolivia and
Paraguay’… CA: Chico summed things up marvellously, in a way that everyone could
This book explores the interface between musicological and sociological approaches to the analysis of music, and in doing so reveals the differing foundations of cultural studies and sociological perspectives more generally. Building on the arguments of his earlier book Sounds and society, the author initially contrasts text-based attempts to develop a ‘social’ analysis of music with sociological studies of musical activities in real cultural and institutional contexts. It is argued that the difficulties encountered by some of the ‘new’ musicologists in their efforts to introduce a social dimension to their work are often a result of their unfamiliarity with contemporary sociological discourse. Just as linguistic studies have moved from a concern with the meaning of words to a focus on how they are used, a sociological perspective directs our attention towards the ways in which the production and reception of music inevitably involve the collaborative activities of real people in particular times and places. The social meanings and significance of music, therefore, cannot be disclosed by analysis of the ‘texts’ alone, but only through the examination of the ways in which music is a constituent part of real social settings. This theme is developed through discussions of music in relation to processes of social stratification, the collaborative activities of improvising musicians, music as language, music as a ‘cultural object’ and music in everyday social situations.
The concept of 'margins' denotes geographical, economic, demographic, cultural and political positioning in relation to a perceived centre. This book aims to question the term 'marginal' itself, to hear the voices talking 'across' borders and not only to or through an English centre. The first part of the book examines debates on the political and poetic choice of language, drawing attention to significant differences between the Irish and Scottish strategies. It includes a discussion of the complicated dynamic of woman and nation by Aileen Christianson, which explores the work of twentieth-century Scottish and Irish women writers. The book also explores masculinities in both English and Scottish writing from Berthold Schoene, which deploys sexual difference as a means of testing postcolonial theorizing. A different perspective on the notion of marginality is offered by addressing 'Englishness' in relation to 'migrant' writing in prose concerned with India and England after Independence. The second part of the book focuses on a wide range of new poetry to question simplified margin/centre relations. It discusses a historicising perspective on the work of cultural studies and its responses to the relationship between ethnicity and second-generation Irish musicians from Sean Campbell. The comparison of contemporary Irish and Scottish fiction which identifies similarities and differences in recent developments is also considered. In each instance the writers take on the task of examining and assessing points of connection and diversity across a particular body of work, while moving away from contrasts which focus on an English 'norm'.
Twenty-first-century Scottish play-acting draws depth and energy from a European and Western tradition of dreaming Scottish dreams, and this tradition dates back to at least the late eighteenth century, to the beginnings of European Romanticism. This book explores how contemporary celebrations of Scotland build upon earlier Scottish fantasies. The Scottish dreamscape is one of several pre-modern counter-worlds which have been approached through imitation in the past. The book examines the 'Scotland' that is on the play-actors' minds. The Scottish dreamscape was formed in an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century process now best known as Highlandism. It was then that Scotland became associated with the aesthetics and supposed characteristics of its Highland periphery. The book also explores the Scottish dreamscape's spread via the channels of the British Empire and American popular culture. It identifies five key carriers which helped to disseminate the Scottish aesthetic across the world, namely epic poetry, the Highland regiments, music hall entertainment, Hollywood films, and romance novels. The book further focuses on fieldwork conducted in 2009 and 2010. It sheds some light on the different forms of Scottish play-acting, on musicians, athletes, commemorators, and historical re-enactors. The pipers and athletes do not imitate the past; they perform in what they hope are old but living Scottish traditions. Commemorators and historical re-enactors have a different aim. They seek to recreate the past in the present. Finally, the book identifies some of the main reasons for the Scottish dreamscape's special resonance in northern and western Europe.
Boom and bust: 1919–1933
The decade following the war witnessed a period of unprecedented demand
for musicians in the UK, with cinemas, dance halls, restaurants, cafes, and
broadcasters providing work for players of all abilities. The results of
changing musical tastes and technological advances in recording and broadcasting ensured that the music profession opened up in previously unimaginable ways, leading to the first ‘talk of a shortage’ of musicians (Ehrlich
Unsurprisingly, this was to have huge consequences for the AMU, which
Towards the end of writing this book during the summer of 2015 we attended
the Musicians’ Union’s (MU’s) thirty-sixth Biennial Conference in Brighton.
By this point, having pored through conference reports dating back to 1943,1
we were all too familiar with the nature and concerns of such gatherings and
our attendance presented an obvious opportunity to reflect on the differences
and similarities between the current machinations of the Union and those
evident throughout the history we had just written.
The conferences are arguably the
Early days: the Amalgamated
Musicians’ Union, 1893–1918
Joe Williams (see Figure 1) was just twenty-one when he decided to try and
form the union that he was to dominate for the next thirty-one years. His
youth and lack of status in the music profession, coupled with a longstanding
resistance to trade unionism among professional musicians, meant that the
success of his venture seemed unlikely. But an examination of the working
conditions of his contemporaries was to prove his hunch that ‘on all sides it
is admitted that one [a union] is necessary’ (cited
terms of employment in the cafés, hotels, theatres, and halls in London at a
time when both the recording and broadcasting industries were becoming not
only large-scale employers of musicians but also more important in terms of
economic value, power, and international influence.
This chapter examines how these changes played out externally and their
impact on the Union. Starting with an overview of the state of the music
profession in Britain at the end of the war, it then considers the structural
and organisational issues facing the Union as it doubled in size