Exploring the city through musical training. Professional music production in marginal neighbourhoods
Creative Locations: arts, culture and the city.10th Midterm Conference of the Research Networks Sociology of Art (RN2) and Sociology of Culture (RN7), 4 to 7 September 2018, Valletta, Malta
Professionally led musical training in deprived neighbourhoods (specially aimed at young participants) have been a recurrent process for combining artistic practice and social inclusion programmes, involving – even if purposes and working methods are different – arts organizations, NGOs and public policies at local and national level. Main objectives commonly mentioned include anticipated positive stimuli of artistic practice in educational success, broadening of social connexions beyond everyday relations, and eventually some opportunities for an artistic-related professional career. On the other hand, those training processes represent an occasion for young amateur musicians to express their own artistic productions, new popular music genres and youth culture activism in marginalised urban settings. In this paper we draw on ethnographic data from two different research projects currently underway in Lisbon metropolitan area, focusing on two case studies – a jazz orchestra and an artistic residence for young musicians. Both projects are working for ten years, are directed by renowned professional jazz musicians, developed by NGOs in the music field and funded by public policies. The presence of professional musicians and highbrow musical genres (jazz in this case) in suburban and deprived neighbourhoods tend to reveal relationships that draw a shift in meaning from both the places and the representations of musical practices themselves. Jazz techniques and other music production procedures allow not only a change in music practice by means of improvisation and different music genres conventions, but can also transform social networks for young musicians putting them in touch with experienced musicians and teachers who participate in the local music scenes of the Lisbon downtown. We will debate how the construction of these new musical practices and social interactions may engage processes of artistic and social activism, particularly in association with emerging musical performances and underground music genres (rap, kuduro, batida, afrohouse) that challenge and confront the power barriers which prevent a more collaborative city.