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Title: Sound recording in the British folk revival :ideology, discourse and practice, 1950-1975
Authors: Ord, Matthew David
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Although recent work in record production studies has advanced scholarly understandings of the contribution of sound recording to musical and social meaning, folk revival scholarship in Britain has yet to benefit from these insights. The revival’s recording practice took in a range of approaches and contexts including radio documentary, commercial studio productions and amateur field recordings. This thesis considers how these practices were mediated by revivalist beliefs and values, how recording was represented in revivalist discourse, and how its semiotic resources were incorporated into multimodal discourses about music, technology and traditional culture. Chapters 1 and 2 consider the role of recording in revivalist constructions of traditional culture and working class communities, contrasting the documentary realism of Topic’s single-mic field recordings with the consciously avant-garde style of the BBC’s Radio Ballads. The remaining three chapters explore how the sound of recorded folk was shaped by a mutually constitutive dialogue with popular music, with recordings constructing traditional performance as an authentic social practice in opposition to an Americanised studio sound equated with commercial/technological mediation. As the discourse of progressive rock elevated recording to an art practice associated with the global counterculture, however, opportunities arose for the incorporation of rock studio techniques in the interpretation of traditional song in the hybrid genre of folk-rock. Changes in studio practice and technical experiments with the semiotics of recorded sound experiments form the subject of the final two chapters. Ethnographic, historical and semiotic approaches are combined with techniques from critical discourse analysis and conceptual metaphor theory to explore sound recording as a means of defining, expressing, and elaborating the revival as a socio-cultural movement. Recording, I will argue, offered a semiotic resource for interpreting traditional texts and repertoires, and for reimagining social space and the relationship of performance. As such, it constituted a highly significant dimension of the revival’s cultural-political practice.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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