Last weekend, I had the honour of being after-dinner speaker for Clan Gregor at their annual gathering. I gave a talk (which lasted about 20 minutes) about their ancestor, Sir John MacGregor Murray. It was based on the talk I gave at the Sorbonne, but slightly modified. (See my PowerPoint with a very brief verbal commentary – not the entire talk!)
Maybe you’d just like to hear Niel/Nathaniel Gow’s tune, Sir John MacGregor Murray in the Celtic Chair? Audio link to SoundCloud
Try as I will to avoid the temptation, my research interests overspill into my weekends. Saturday saw me inventorising the late Jimmy Shand’s less-antiquarian accordion music at the Wighton Collection in Dundee. I had much amusement looking at the accordion instruction books! There might be mileage in a wee general-interest article about these, so I can see I’ll have to look at them more closely when I return to finish my “honorary librarian” duties another time. (I’m obsessed with paratext for its value as cultural context, and music instruction books are a bit of a spin-off from this – even if they’re not from the Georgian era!)
Back at home on Sunday, I did a little more work on my Sir John Macgregor Murray paper.
Out of the Past, Into the Present: Reframing Heritage through Art Practice
The other day, I saw details of the abovenamed event hosted at the CCA by the University of the West of Scotland’s Creative and Cultural Industries course in the School of Media, Culture & Society. It took place today, and I spent my morning there, hearing about music as a creative response to global warming, music using heritage technology (synthesizers), and documentary film about post-industrial Ravenscraig, about Irish women’s role in rural society some decades ago, and about a pioneer woman engineer.
You might ask what any of this has to do with Georgian legal deposit music? On the face of it, not a lot. This is partly because although the web announcement named UWS and the titles of the talks, it didn’t name the department or that a couple of the presentations were based on Masters students projects. The department has a contemporary and recent contemporary, rather than a centuries-old historical focus, so there was a divergence of approaches between theirs and mine. Also, partly because I saw the words “reframing heritage” and “art practice”, and I read what I wanted to read. And that’s my fault – but don’t we often do this?! Obviously, “heritage” does not have to mean Georgian. “Reframing” can also include responding musically to something other than music, whilst my own research places heritage music as the primary focus and looks for ways to reframe that, to make it relevant and appealing to people today. But my research response is not to write music (although I’ve been known to write the odd self-indulgent tune!), and – until today – it wouldn’t have occurred to me to produce a documentary film about it.
So, I felt a bit of a dinosaur, really – here were people responding to real global issues, using music and film, whilst I am exploring the history of centuries-old music. You could say I’m reframing it to make it interesting to new audiences, but not in quite the same way! Would anyone be interested in a documentary film about Stationers’ Hall legal deposit music? My fear is that there would be a smaller audience than for the topics being discussed today!
Anyway, back to the drawing-board now. I’m looking for new grants and new directions to take the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall research – better get on with it!