Music 625: The Performance of Music on Television, c.1955-’85

A Conference at  the University of Leeds 7-9 June 2018

Booking now open, early bird prices available until 25 May 2018. Go to booking page

With the support of:

The Sadler Seminar fund at the University of Leeds
Leeds Humanities Research Institute
BBC History and Heritage

Conference convenors

Tim Boon, Cheney Fellow with Simon Popple (Communications); Marian Jago, Edward Venn and James Mooney (Music)

Project overview

‘Music 625’ refers to the television era ushered-in by the higher definition output of BBC2 in 1964. Tangled in this channel launch here were both aspirations to technically better television, and questions of high and low culture. This two-day conference will showcase archive music programmes as provocations to discussions about the changing culture and society of three postwar decades from the fifties to the eighties. We will take individual television programmes as ‘boundary objects’ between different disciplines and kinds of creative work. We have encouraged speakers to include substantial excerpts from archive TV programmes. The conference will take an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to its subject: panel discussions will include contrasting expertise: in production (including from original participants), historians of TV, musicologists and musicians, bringing together in discussion musicologists, historians, media studies researchers and television and music practitioners.
Our aim is to develop a discussion on the ways in which developing televisual form has interacted with the development of musical genres. We aim to understand better how those different genres of so-called ‘classical’, jazz, pop, rock and traditional music were differentially treated in the era’s dominating popular medium. We want to use music as a test case for understanding how ideas of high and low culture operated within the cultural revolution of the 1960s and after.
Music provides an ideal topic for exploring notions of performance as an important aspect of TV coverage of the arts; the category unites musical performance, televisual grammar and the performance of TV technologies in achieving particular results.
‘Workshop’, the pioneering BBC2 music documentary series (1964-9), is a key focus of the meeting. Screenings of excerpts will be illuminated by distinguished participants Humphrey Burton and Barrie Gavin, who both had key roles in the series, and by historians and musicologists.

We aim also to publish a journal special issue deriving from the proceedings.

Please go to the Music 625 Conference programme and Poster for further information or contact the conference organisers

Dave Brubeck, Joe Morello, Eugene Wright and Paul Desmond on Jazz 625, 1964 © BBC

Dave Brubeck, Joe Morello, Eugene Wright and Paul Desmond on Jazz 625, 1964