Popular Musicscapes and the Characterisation of the Urban Environment

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Sch of the Arts


Popular music is a global culture but it has been closely associated with the urban environment and described as 'The Sound of the City' (Gillet) and as 'Urban Rhythms.' Moreover, despite the fluidity of popular music and the fact that musical sounds, styles and cultures cross local and boundaries, popular music is commonly perceived as fixed to a place, and urban (and rural) environments are commonly believed to have a deterministic influence on musical performance and creativity. The proposed project aims to critically examine the relationship between popular music and the urban environment by considering the influence of music-making on the character of the urban environment and how it is used, experienced, interpreted and represented, and in turn the influence of the urban environment on music-making, and particularly on musical performance and creativity. In doing so the project seeks to contribute to and inform topical and pressing debates about changes to the environment of European and North American cities brought about by economic restructuring, and their impact on creativity, cultural diversity and local distinctiveness.

The project will involve comparative, ethnographic research on musicians and music-making, and will ground music practice and theory in the specifics, social dynamics and materiality of particular urban locations. The city of Liverpool has been chosen as a case study for this research in order to take advantage of heightened activity and debate concerning culture, landscape and the urban environment provoked by its status as the European Capital of Culture 2008. The research will be conducted through a partnership with National Museums Liverpool, which is staging a major exhibition on Liverpool popular music top celebrate the city's Capital of Culture status, and with English Heritage, which is currently supporting innovative research on historic landscape characterization. The implications of the research for an understanding of musical performance, creativity and the characterization of place will be considered through published scholarly outputs. Ways of disseminating the research findings to a wide range of audiences will also be considered, hence one of the main aims of the project is to explore innovative ways of presenting those findings audio-visually through digital mapping technology, and through exhibition webpages, a public seminar and interactive installation, in order to provoke public reflection and debate on music and place and new perspectives on the urban environment. It is hoped that the digital musical map will provide a model and basis for research in other cities, and will have further applications beyond the public exhibition and website, acting, for example, as a resource for a classroom teaching and for planners and policy-makers involved with culture-led urban regeneration.
Title Demo Recording - The Beverage Sessions 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Title Don't ask why 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Title Edited film soundtrack 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Title Graffiti Dreams 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Title The Liverpool One Project 
Description A twelve-song digital download of music and live music event produced in collaboration with young Liverpool Urban music artists and producers and as part of the research. 
Type Of Art Composition/Score 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Nominated for an Official Mixtape Award (OMA) in the category of 'Best Compilation Mixtape of 2011. 
URL http://liverpooloneproject.bandcamp.com
Title The Vanishing Social Clubs of Liverpool 8 
Description Oral history documentary film of leisure, music and community in the Liverpool 8 neighbourhood. Produced with Urbeatz films, Liverpool. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact Screeened at the 2010 Mobo Awards events, Contemporary Urban Centre 
URL http://vimeo.com/16294410
Title Three songs - collaboration with David Dacey 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Title Two songs 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Title Various tracks 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Title Six databases produced for Mapping the Beat, a digital, interactive, multi-media installation produced for The Beat Goes On exhibition 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Description Landscapes, memories and cultural practices: a GIS / GPS digital heritage mapping network', Dr Julia Hallam. collaboration with National Museums Liverpool and the AHRC. 
Organisation National Museums Liverpool
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
Description Partner Investigator Sara Cohen, A major project funded by the Australia Research Council and involving collaboration with partners from Australia, Israel, Netherlands, the US. 
Organisation Australian Research Council
Country Australia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
Description The African Music Heritage of Liverpool 
Organisation Leeds Beckett University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Lashua was awarded a grant from Leeds Metropolitan as part of a Carnegie New Researcher Award (2011). The grant enabled a follow-on project focusing on Liverpool's African music heritage, and resulted in a community-based film (reported under 'creative outputs').
Collaborator Contribution The collaboration enabled Lashua to return to Liverpool in order to conduct follow-on research in collaboration with Cohen, and be based at the University of Liverpool and its Institute of Popular Music (IPM) for the duration of the research. The grant from Leeds Met provided cover for Lashua in order to enable him to lead this research. The University of Liverpool awarded Lashua an Honorary IPM Research Fellowship and use of the School of Music recording studios where interviews were conducted and recorded.
Impact A community based film entitled the Vanishing Clubs of Liverpool 8 (reported under 'creative outputs') and a published journal article and forthcoming monograph that drew on the research (reported under 'publications')
Start Year 2011