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date: 23 February 2020

(p. 21) Contexts

Abstract and Keywords

Across the world, much community music-making continues to flourish as ‘organic’ practices. But as communities and their circumstances change, sometimes the need arises for active interventions with the aim to establish or restore. It is mostly these interventions that are now widely referred to as ‘community music activities’. A third—and rarely recognized—aspect on the community music spectrum is institutionalized music-making. Often depicted as the very antithesis of community music-making, I will argue in this chapter that most music institutions in fact arose from an expressed community need, and they are therefore essential in understanding the full scope and dynamics of community music-making. Next, a nine-domain framework of key characteristics of community music practices serves to address the problem of trying to define a great diversity of practices. From there, the discussion moves towards the relationship between community and the sustainability of music practices, introducing the concept of ‘musical ecosystems’.

 Contexts

Gillian Howell at the Manningham Jam, Australia (photograph courtesy of Manningham City Council, photographer David Ng)

The contexts section of the handbook features work from a wide variety of settings, and shows the breadth of places where community musicians can be found. The chapters in this section are designed to inspire (re)definitions or frameworks for understanding the diverse contexts of community music in the twenty-first century. In the opening chapter of this section Huib Schippers provides a way of conceptualizing contexts for community music in terms of organic community music-making, interventions, and institutionalized music-making. He also explores a nine-domain framework for examining the key characteristics of community music practices, and concludes by exploring (p. 22) the relationship between community and the sustainability of music practices using the concept of musical ecosystems. Gillian Howell’s chapter follows this with a discussion of community-based music interventions in sites affected by violent war and conflict. In her chapter, she proposes a typology of four broad fields of intention that commonly underpin music interventions, namely music education, cultural regeneration, social development, and healing, health, and well-being. Her chapter then applies this typology to an early exemplar of a post-war music intervention, the Pavarotti Music Centre in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Te Oti Rakena’s chapter continues the theme of exploring ways to conceptualize community music and does this through the Indigenous Māori concept of ‘Whanaungatanga’, a philosophy that underpins the function and operation of Pacific Island communities that includes a spiritual dimension, a knowledge of Pacific cosmology, and acknowledges the responsibilities and duties of reciprocity that are expressed within these types of collective relationships. Andrea Creech’s chapter then explores the topic of contexts within the area of positive ageing, and argues that active engagement in participatory music offers a context for creative expression and lifelong musical development, supporting cognitive, social, and emotional well-being in older adults. That said, and like the earlier chapters in this section, Creech critically outlines the work that still needs to be done to develop truly inclusive practices in music that meet a range of needs, desires, and capacities. Janice Waldron’s chapter then moves considerations of context into the online space. Her chapter conceptualizes community music in terms of online and convergent community music activities, and draws on theories of interactive participation from new media activism to examine how community music can grow and reach disenfranchised, disabled, or geographically isolated community music participants, amongst others. Brown, Keller, and de Lima’s chapter continues this section’s focus on contexts to consider the pervasive computing technologies that are providing opportunities and challenges for new musical practices and offering greater access to musical interactions for people at all levels of musical experience. In particular, the authors explore how to leverage ubiquitous technologies to support ubiquitous music, and they discuss how these techniques can assist in ensuring that social music activities provide an appropriate variety of experiences and strategies to maximize socially positive and musically creative outcomes.

The final chapter by Mary Cohen and Jennie Henley examines music-making in US and UK prison contexts and concludes this section by suggesting new insights into the values, applications, and meanings of community music. As their chapter argues, community music approaches within prisons provide a means towards desistance, improved self-esteem, social support, and a sense of accomplishment. As the authors argue, music-making within the complex power dynamics of prison contexts emphasizes the importance of the welcome and hospitality within our understanding of community music.