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

Call for papers

A Conference at the School of Music, University of Leeds

8-9 June 2018

With the support of the Sadler Seminar fund at the University of Leeds

Convenors for the University of Leeds: Tim Boon, Marian Jago, James Mooney, Simon Popple and Edward Venn

‘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 will include introduced screenings of archive TV programmes in whole and in part. 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, ‘world’ 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.

Furthermore, 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’ workshop

We expect to make ‘Workshop’, the pioneering BBC2 music documentary series (1964-9), a key focus of the meeting; Screenings will be mixed with historical context, witness seminars and panel discussions on the televisual and musical significance of the series. Programmes for likely inclusion: one or more of Barrie Gavin’s programmes on Pierre Boulez; ‘The Same Trade as Mozart’ (on electronic music); and potentially others.

Other sessions will consider other series, including Jazz 625 and The South Bank Show. We also expect to draw international comparisons with Jazz and to consider music as a component of current affairs.

We seek offers of papers and presentations of 20-30 minutes on:

  • Interactions between music and television
  • Television and the performance of music
  • Comparisons between differing musical genres on television
  • International comparisons
  • Live music TV versus music films for TV
  • Music and high and low culture in the long 1960s

The proceedings will be live-streamed and archived for future consultation.

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

Please send offers of 20-minute papers, or other presentations to: by 28th February 2018.