Wood, James (2016) Issues of Practice and Leadership in Experimental and Community Music Group Activity. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The practices of experimental and community group music are compared on a social and musical level. The similarities, differences and compatibility of these forms are explored through contextual analysis and personal reflection. The main themes assessed are in terms of the level of inclusivity and ‘freedom’ in the music itself and the socio-political background of each musical context.

To assess this compatibility, I led four music groups for varying periods of time. Two of the groups I led would typically be classed as ‘community music’ groups’; one is an experimental music ensemble that is established in the field of contemporary music performance; and one is a 6th form college music group that performs experimental and improvised music, and is aimed at all abilities. In each group a similar programme of repertoire was followed, primarily featuring four composers/practitioners in the experimental music tradition and supplemented by ideas from recognised community musicians

The reflections of this programme are assessed in two segments. The first segment analyses the effect of community music leadership and models of behaviour on each group, and the second focuses primarily on the effect of the repertoire itself on promoting an inclusive, ‘community music-style’ ethos in the groups.

The conclusions, based on both the contextual analysis and the personal reflections, are that the nature of a community musician is someone who places more weight on a positive approach to facilitation than on repertoire, but that a use of experimental music can help achieve an informal, facilitative leadership style. The socialist background and attitude of a community musician should inform their practice as much as a desire to increase inclusivity and participation. My own leadership style is similar to a typical, facilitative approach of a community musician and is based on mutuality
between leader and group, which generally has a positive outcome in all groups, with a need to adapt and change as required.

FINAL THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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