Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns

Lead Research Organisation: Open University
Department Name: Music

Abstract

The 'Atlantic Sounds' project aims to investigate, from a UK perspective, the role that music has played in cross-cultural encounters around the Atlantic rim (which includes the Americas, Africa and the Caribbean) from around 1740 to the present. Although there has been research into the presence of music from these countries in Europe, the processes and mechanisms that established such connections are less clear. The transmission and development of musical cultures across oceans by seafarers, travellers, and free and forced migrants is clearly an area ripe for further study. This project will focus specifically on the circumstances of the ship - which literally transports music and musicians across the Atlantic - and the sailortown - the diverse and ever-changing port communities where sailors from all over the world interact, including through music-making.

Perhaps the most obvious subjects of study are the sea-songs devised to aid the hard physical labour of work on sailing ships but which also often emerged from experiences on shore, with many recalling the dangers and pleasures of life in port. Beyond these work songs, music has played various roles both on board ship and in port and has also been vital in disseminating ideas about seafaring to the wider publics, particularly in popular song. Musical traditions and musical instruments have been transported across the Atlantic and have subsequently impacted on music-making in ports and beyond. In modern times, music has provided entertainment for leisure travellers and has contributed to the regeneration of sailortowns as contemporary tourist destinations. We believe that the study of music on ships and in sailortowns informs not only our understanding of historical seafaring practices; but also provides a lens through which the nature of cross-cultural encounters and fusions, many of which pre-date mass immigration into Britain and our resultant multicultural society, can be examined.

The overall aim of the project is to develop a better understanding of music in Atlantic World encounters. This will be accomplished primarily through a series of networking events involving academics, particularly those with interests in music and history but also those involved in the study of museums, heritage and tourism, and other interested parties including stakeholders in museums and tourism as well as musicians, film-makers and journalists and the wider public. International keynote speakers will be invited to address each event and the attendance of new researchers and research students will be supported by bursaries. Events will be held in different locations which are relevant to the project (London, Cardiff, Falmouth and Liverpool) and each will include a public lecture and performance. In addition to the events, the project website will include a blog, audio/audio-visual recordings of papers and specially made podcasts, and invite interaction and discussion. The website will provide links to existing relevant online resources for research and education in a variety of contexts and levels.

The intention of the project is to build relationships which will lead to further collaborations, both within the academic community, especially between disciplines, and between scholars and those from outside academia. We are aiming to create a network which will be equally beneficial to all these groups, particularly to provide opportunities for the public dissemination of academic research. The project will provide opportunities for people to learn about the transatlantic impact on their local heritage and for them to make valuable contributions to the network's discussions. Local musicians will present musical performances and contribute to academic debate. The project will encourage research that can be put to practical use, for example working in collaboration with historic venues to inform their use of music as living heritage.

Planned Impact

Individual participants in the network will benefit directly from its work, and they will disseminate and promote the outcomes to colleagues more widely. We are aiming for a multi-directional knowledge exchange that will be equally beneficial to academics and those working outside HE, particularly by providing opportunities for the public dissemination of academic research. Intended beneficiaries, and the likely nature of their benefit from the network, include:

Local communities and the wider public.
Public events held in conjunction with colloquia and conference will encourage the involvement of the local communities in which these take place, and provide opportunities for people to learn about the transatlantic impact on their local heritage and for them to make valuable contributions to the network's discussions. The project website will include recordings of parts of the events to provide access to the network for those who may not be able to attend, as well as shorter specially made podcasts. The public, particularly those with a connection with research being conducted by members of the network and local communities where events are taking place, will be encouraged to engage with the project virtually by posting their responses - stories, memories and reflections - on the website, which will result in a permanent repository of valuable material which might otherwise become lost. It is hoped that even wider public engagement will be possible through the development of radio and film projects.

Readers of the popular music press.
One member of the network, Stan Rijven, is a music journalist, and he will interpret the network's activities for a wider audience. We anticipate that this will lead to further coverage of our meetings as the schedule of events develops. We will look to secure coverage of the network in relevant national publications such as Songlines, English Dance and Song and fRoots, but also in magazines with a more general audience such as This England and the BBC History magazine. The network will raise awareness of the connections which have influenced music-making in the transatlantic world.

Professional musicians.
The network's events will provide opportunities for local musicians to present musical performances, allowing them to develop new audiences and national and international connections. The format of these performances will be planned to enable mutually beneficial discussion and exchange of knowledge between the audience (academics and general public) and the musicians. For example, a recent meeting of the core 'Atlantic Sounds' group in Liverpool included an illustrated talk and discussion on sea shanties by Hughie Jones from the group 'The Spinners'.

Cultural professionals.
The network will seek to foster relationships between academics and professionals working in areas such as museums, tourism, education and heritage preservation. In particular, the network will encourage critical reflection on the relationship between maritime history and music and the impact and potential of this for the presentation and preservation of local heritage.

Venue managers and promoters.
We are particularly keen that the operators of historic venues and those responsible for the preservation, maintenance and development of ships and sailortowns should be engaged with the history of musical performance and experience. The network will encourage and broker collaboration between venues and academics through the accessible presentation of research which can then be put to practical use, for example to inform plans for venue development and to encourage the preservation of a living heritage by bringing it to the attention of local organisations. Beneficiaries could be as diverse as Wilton's Music Hall in the East End of London, Cardiff's Tiger Bay or the restored tea clipper the Cutty Sark.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The overall objective of this project is to develop a better understanding of music in Atlantic World encounters through the development of a Research Network. The project has built relationships both within the academic community, especially between disciplines, and between scholars and those from outside academia. Specifically, through a series of four events in 2013-2014 the project has

- facilitated interdisciplinary networking between academics, particularly musicologists and historians but also those from museum studies, heritage and tourism

- facilitated international networking, particularly through inviting international keynote speakers to each event

- encouraged new researchers and research students to disseminate their work within a supportive atmosphere, particularly through panel discussions on research methods and bursaries for attendance at the project's International conference

- connected academic research with the public through the involvement of stakeholders in museums and tourism as well as musicians, film-makers and journalists, and, of course, the wider public themselves, through lectures and performances.
Exploitation Route The project has built relationships which have led to further research and creative collaborations. In particular, the project has fostered relationships between academics and professionals working in areas such as museums, tourism, education and heritage preservation. To support this into the future, our website documents participants and the network's events, which are also made accessible through podcasts. The website also provides a database of online resources for anyone interested in the topic.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Other

URL http://www.open.ac.uk/atlanticsounds
 
Description Findings have been used as a basis for debate and discussion at maritime events and festivals.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns Research Network 
Organisation University of Liverpool
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This AHRC Research Networking project has created a new network of researchers. Specifically, through three colloquia and an International Conference and Study Day it has: - facilitated interdisciplinary networking between academics, particularly musicologists and historians but also those from museum studies, heritage and tourism - facilitated international networking. The transatlantic focus of the project requires international collaboration, which has been accomplished in a cost-effective way through inviting international keynote speakers for each event (Dr David Cashman [Southern Cross University, Australia], Professor John Collins [University of Ghana and BAPMAF African Music Archives], Professor Bob White [University of Montreal], Paula Johnson [Smithsonian] and Professor James Revell Carr [University of North Carolina at Greensboro]) - encouraged new researchers and research students. - connected academic research with the public through the involvement of stakeholders in museums and tourism as well as musicians, film-makers and journalists, and, of course, the wider public themselves. The museum profession is represented on the advisory board of the project, which will help in making these links, and one of the colloquia was held in a museum and we will hear from a guest speaker from the profession at our International Conference. Each event has included a public lecture and input from local musicians. The network is sustained beyond these events through: - a project mailing list which currently includes more than 100 researchers with interests in this area - Facebook and Twitter activity - reports and podcasts on the project website and hosted by the BBC.
Collaborator Contribution Institution of Co-investigator
Impact Three colloquia and an International Conference and Study Day, plus spin-off events as detailed elsewhere in the portfolio.
Start Year 2012
 
Description British Forum for Ethnomusicology and Colloquium 3: Music Around the Atlantic Rim 
Organisation British Forum for Ethnomusicology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The opportunity arose for us to collaborate with the BFE to stage our final colloquium at Cardiff University
Start Year 2012
 
Description Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival 2013 and Colloquium 2: Music, Heritage, Regeneration, Tourism 
Organisation Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Atlantic Sounds worked closely with Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival 2013 to stage a colloquium immediately prior to the Festival. The colloquium involved representatives from many of the groups who were performing during the Festival. The programme included a performance from the shanty group 'Shake a Leg' and lecture on 'Music and the Sea' which was specifically aimed at a public audience. These events provided specific links between the colloquium and the opening of the Festival.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Halsway Manor Sea Song and Shanty Weekend 
Organisation Halsway Manor National Centre for Folk Arts
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I delivered sessions on shanty history and musicology as part of a participative weekend course on shanty singing for amateurs.
Collaborator Contribution Halsway Manor provided the venue and infrastructure for the course.
Impact Raise in awareness of the history of martiime music and the implications of its continued performance.
Start Year 2016
 
Description National Maritime Museum and British Music and the Sea 
Organisation National Maritime Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution A free public lecture on the outcomes of the project at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. From shanties to opera, music hall to the avant-garde, the sea continues to inspire British composers and musicians. This talk (illustrated with recordings) by Open University lecturer Dr Catherine Tackley, director of the project 'Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns', explored the impact of the sea on British music and music making.
Collaborator Contribution Co-ordinated and publicised the event, provided lecture theatre.
Impact Public lecture. Support for future bids.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Shanty and Sea Song Symposium 
Organisation Aland Maritime Museum
Country Aland Islands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Atlantic Sounds co-curated a public symposium with the museum.
Collaborator Contribution Atlantic Sounds co-curated a public symposium with the museum. The museum hosted and publicised the event.
Impact Symposium
Start Year 2015
 
Description Shanty and Sea Song Symposium 
Organisation Baltic Shanty Festival
Country Aland Islands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Atlantic Sounds co-curated a public symposium alongside the Festival.
Collaborator Contribution The Festival publicised the event.
Impact Public symposium
Start Year 2015
 
Description ''Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters': Seafarers as Musicians, Musicians as Seafarers'. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote talk at conference "Working in Music: the Musicians' Union (MU), musical labour and employment" at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. Developed interest and knowledge in subject area within the context of professional musical labour and the Union.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Across the Western Ocean: Songs of Liverpool and the Sea 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Musician and academic Gerry Smyth performed songs and shanties from his latest album 'Across the Western Ocean: Songs of Liverpool and the Sea'. Gerry gave a fascinating historical context for each of the songs he performed, and also provided song sheets and encouraged audience participation.

Public interest in the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/tackley-atlantic-sounds/colloquia/colloquium-1-london-8-february...
 
Description Atlantic Sounds Launch Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns was launched with an event at the Department of History, University of Liverpool on Tuesday 20th November 2012. The event featured a talk on the project by Catherine Tackley and Graeme Milne, followed by discussion.

An edited version of audio and slides from this presentation are available here http://youtu.be/najBl0jYeSs

Participants later returned to our other events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/tackley-atlantic-sounds/launch-event
 
Description British Music and the Sea 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A free public lecture at the National Maritime Museum.

The audience were able to develop their understanding of music and the sea and relate it to their own knowledge and experience. The museum is keen to stage similar events in the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Colloquium 1: Historical Perspectives on Music and Seafaring 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The first colloquium of three organised by the project during 2013. The papers addressed the theme of 'Historical Perspectives on Music and Seafaring':

Music has always had an important presence in cross-cultural encounters around the Atlantic rim (including the Americas, Africa and the Caribbean), both on board ships and in sailortowns. Perhaps the most obvious subjects of study are the sea-songs devised to aid the hard physical labour of work on sailing ships but which also often emerged from experiences on shore, with many recalling the dangers and pleasures of life in port. Beyond these work songs, music has played various roles from mediating in early modern colonial encounters to providing entertainment. Musical traditions and musical instruments have been transported across the Atlantic and have subsequently impacted on music-making in ports and beyond. Music has also disseminated ideas about seafaring to the wider publics, particularly in popular song but also in art music. In modern times, the evolution of transatlantic leisure travel gave music an explicit role as entertainment for passengers but also provided opportunities for the musicians on board to encounter diverse musical styles. The study of music on ships and in sailortowns informs not only our understanding of historical seafaring practices; but also provides a lens through which the nature of cross-cultural encounters and fusions, many of which pre-date mass immigration into Britain and our resultant multicultural society, can be examined.

Raised awareness of the project within academia.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/tackley-atlantic-sounds/colloquia/colloquium-1-london-8-february...
 
Description Colloquium 2: Music, Heritage, Regeneration, Tourism 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In this second colloquium of the 'Atlantic Sounds' project, we considered the role of music in maritime heritage, regeneration and tourism and the challenges and opportunities that music offers to maritime museums and heritage organisations. The colloquium enabled the sharing of ideas and good practice. The programme included two panel discussions, one on 'Music, Culture and Maritime Regeneration' and one on 'Shanty Singing'; and two lectures, one on Liberian Kru Seamen and one on Music and the Sea.

This event brought together people with music and the seafaring as a common interest - with the impact that they will work together more closely in the future and there will be academic input into public-facing events on this theme - for example, the project team has been invited to take part in future festivals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/tackley-atlantic-sounds/colloquia/colloquium-2-falmouth-14-june-...
 
Description Colloquium 3: Music Around the Atlantic Rim 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This was the third and final colloquium planned by the 'Atlantic Sounds' project. The opportunity arose to collaborate with the British Forum for Ethnomusicology to present a joint event which consisted of c. 20 papers and a keynote lecture from Professor Bob White.

This conference considered the relocation of peoples and exchanges of culture, music and ideas in relation to seafaring. We sought new approaches and theoretical frameworks for the circulation and exchange of ideas and materials related to music around the Atlantic rim specifically, and more generally, in trans-oceanic context and around large bodies of water. We invited innovative research about multi-directional movements of musicians, musical artefacts (including instruments and recordings), repertoires and ideas within populations of free and forced migrants, seafarers, and other travellers. Research about music making on ships and in ports was particularly welcome. We encouraged an interrogation of existing theories of diaspora and call for new models of enquiry in a changing Atlantic world. Building on representations and critiques of "the Black Atlantic" and proposing new analytical models, this conference included research about European forms that traverse the Atlantic but do not usually default to the transatlantic rubric. In particular, we invited work on the "Green Atlantic": the circa-Atlantic emigration of Celtic peoples and musics, as well as immigration patterns into Celtic sites. As well as inviting new research on past triangulated movements of people between Europe, Africa and the Americas, we heard fresh research about contemporary patterns of relocation and exchange due to changing political, economic and technological formations.

Raised awareness of the project in academia, particularly for ethnomusicologists.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/tackley-atlantic-sounds/colloquia/colloquium-3-cardiff-19-octobe...
 
Description International Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The project's International and Study Day are the culmination of the AHRC-funded phase of the network, building on the three specialised colloquia in 2013. The event includes more than 20 papers and two panel discussions designed to address methodologies and issues for students working in this area. The attendance of four postgraduate research students was supported by bursaries.

The conference brought together key parties interested in the project leading to intellectual exchange and advancement of thinking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/tackley-atlantic-sounds/primary-links/international-conference-a...
 
Description Sailortown Shanty Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I convened and chaired two panel discussions as part of the festival, on 'Routes and Roots: Global Transformations of Songs' and 'Women and Work Song'. These involved performers from the festival, and questions from the floor.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.wiltons.org.uk/whatson/260-the-sailortown-sea-shanty-festival
 
Description Shanty and Sea Songs Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Atlantic Sounds staged a Shanty and Sea Song Symposium at the Aland Maritime Museum alongside the Baltic Shanty Festival. The event involved academics, non-academic researchers, and practitioners and attracted audience and participants from the Festival.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Uncharted Waters: Researching Sounds, Ships, and Sailor Towns 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A seminar for the British Society of Sports History Sound of England Sport and Leisure History Network, London Branch.

The AHRC funded Research Networking project 'Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns' sought to explore the 'uncharted waters' situated between the disciplines of music and history and more specifically, between ethnomusicology and popular musicology and maritime and urban history. This paper reported, using musically illustrated case studies, on the outcomes of colloquia staged in 2013 around three key themes: musical responses to transatlantic seafaring; the role of music in maritime heritage, regeneration and tourism and the role of music in transatlantic migration, including multicultural seaport communities. The paper identified opportunities and challenges for future research with reference to emerging concerns and developing projects.

Raised awareness of the relevance of music, and in particular the Atlantic Sounds project and its methodology in the Sport and Leisure Network - resulted in discussions around involving musical content in future seminars and the participation of musicologists in the Network's annual conferences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014