Community music: history and current practice, its constructions of ‘community’, digital turns and future soundings

McKay, GA and Higham, B 2011, Community music: history and current practice, its constructions of ‘community’, digital turns and future soundings , Project Report, Arts Humanities Research Council, Swindon.

PDF - Published Version
Download (205kB) | Preview
[img] Microsoft Word - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (748kB)


The UK has been a pivotal national player within the development of community music practice. In the UK community music developed broadly from the 1960s and had a significant burgeoning period in the 1980s. Community music nationally and internationally has gone on to build a set of practices, a repertoire, an infrastructure of organisations, qualifications and career paths. There are elements of cultural and debatably pedagogic innovations in community music. These have to date only partly been articulated and historicised within academic research. This document brings together and reviews research under the headings of history and definitions; practice; repertoire; community; pedagogy; digital technology; health and therapy; policy and funding, and impact and evaluation. A 90-entry, 22,000 word annotated bibliography was also produced (McKay and Higham 2011). An informed group of 15 practitioners and academics reviewed the authors’ initial findings at a knowledge exchange colloquium and advised on further investigation. Some of the gaps in research identified are: an authoritative history, an examination of repertoire, the relationship with other music (practice), the freelance practitioner career, evidence of impact and value, the potential for a pedagogy.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Additional Information: This report was produced as one of the scoping research reviews funded by the AHRC in 2011 as part of its cross-Research Council Connected Communities programme (award: £26,733). An annotated bibliography of 90 entries and 22,000 words was also produced by McKay and Higham (McKay and Higham 2011--also available open access). This was used to scope the research field and to shape the report. Broadly, and with some overlap, McKay was responsible for critical and theoretical texts, Higham for policy and ‘grey’ literature, and both worked on the practice or repertoire side of the topic’s writings. Other contributions to this report as part of the project were: 1. A paper given by McKay on community music’s partial origins in the UK in the free improvisation movement of the 1960s and 1970s, at the Rhythm Changes: Jazz and National Identities conference, Amsterdam Conservatory, in September 2011. Title: ‘Community music, unorthodox music education and improvisation in Britain’ (podcast available at 2. A colloquium for around 15 ‘critical friends’, at which the project investigators presented their findings to date, was organised at the University of Salford in October 2011. This was a key moment in the review’s knowledge exchange agenda, at which leading academics and practitioners (some are both) in the field from across the UK came together to discuss the topic. The investigators sought delegates’ guidance on the adequacy of the range of research review, and on the quality and completeness of the findings. . Further information about the day is available at
Themes: Health and Wellbeing
Media, Digital Technology and the Creative Economy
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Publisher: Arts Humanities Research Council
Funders: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Depositing User: Prof George McKay
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2011 12:45
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 13:34

Actions (login required)

Edit record (repository staff only) Edit record (repository staff only)


Downloads per month over past year