BCMCR recently hosted an informal round table event that focussed on the preservation, promotion and research of popular music heritage. The purpose of the event was to bring together music museum founders, archivists, cultural entrepreneurs and academic researchers from across the UK to share insights, knowledge and expertise of what is clearly an expanding if sometimes challenging field of activity.

In attendance were Andy Linehan, Popular Music Curator at the British Library, Dr Rajinder Dudrah, University of Manchester and Bhangra expert, Paul Martin, pop music historian, Craig Hamilton, Harkive, Kingsley Harris from the East Anglian Music Archive (see below for more) as well as BCMCR members.

We recorded the day’s discussion and are in the process of editing it in order to upload it to this site. In the meantime Kingsley sent his reflections on the day to us.

East Anglian Music Archive
The East Anglian Music Archive was founded by Kingsley Harris in 1982 under the name Local Band Research. In 1990 it became Project Eastzone 2000, and finally in 1998 The East Anglian Music Archive. Despite the name changes the Archive’s mission has always been the same and that is to research, collect and catalogue recordings, data and artefacts of the influential and contemporary music scenes of Norfolk and Suffolk. The Archive’s aim is to provide public access to over 30 years of research by creating an enjoyable and educational heritage website – a free public source of social history. The Archive is a not for profit organisation and relies on volunteers, donations and fundraising projects.

The Sounds Of History? Preserving popular music heritage.
I attended this event after meeting Jez Collins at Pop Life in Northampton. Having just launched the Archive website I was interested in attending the Northampton event after noticing they had papers on Archiving and music collections. Impressed with the academic view I was interested in pursuing this further with the idea of building up contacts of like-minded people and gathering ideas that would improve how I run the East Anglian Music Archive.

The Sounds of History day helped cement those relationships made in Northampton as well as introducing me to new and useful contacts, most notably Andy Linehan of the British Library. The topics most interesting to me were sustainability and best practices when curating, although I find the theory side of the discussion just as interesting and in many ways an important clearing ground for my own thoughts, even though some of it is over my head. Most interestingly was the controversial question. Who are these collections important to?

I had to answer this question around 13 years ago when I moved the collection for the umpteenth time to another residence. It was at that point I actually considered selling off the archive to individual collectors believing no one was really interested in what I was doing. It was soon pointed out to me (via friends, family & partner) that this was my life’s work and the person it was most important too was myself! This epiphany alone has seen the archive double in size in the last 13 years and the addition of an extension to the home just to house the collection.

It would be good to see some kind of organisation/society formed where parochial music archives are the focal point, I’m finding information and contacts as valuable as funding. There is a society already in existence for local Archives, however, after attending one meeting I was so disheartened to hear that there are groups of professional people coming up with projects to tick boxes and get funding. The East Anglian Music Archive is a genuine project and I know we just can’t compete with this approach.

Overview:
I have always firmly believed that a network for Archiving parochial music data from around the UK should be in place. The data alone without any of the artefacts would be an incredibly accurate source of how the country uses music, recreationally and commercially from the bottom up, instead of how we look at music in the main, which is from ‘within the industry’ and looking down through its successes (Basically we only become interested in a musicians previous exploits once they have reached the top). It would answer many theoretical questions that have been posed over the years and I dear say data-wise would be a sub culturist playground.

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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