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Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt et la scène de Canterbury

Posted: July 13th, 2020 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

International symposium, Strasbourg.

Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt et la scène de Canterbury : un regard différent sur le rock dans les années 1960 et 1970.

Musicological, cultural, sociological and literary approaches.

Thursday 19. november 2020 afternoon, Salle du Fossé des Treize – Friday 20. november 2020 morning and afternoon, Amphithéâtre du Collège Doctoral Européen ;
Concert on 19. novembre at 20h30pm with special guest John Greaves, Salle du Fossé des Treize.

The term “Canterbury scene” refers to a group of rock bands and musicians, mostly English, active from the late 1960s and during the 1970s. The town of Canterbury, Kent, was the place where many of the musicians in question, still in their teens, met and began to collaborate; from this first nucleus, several bands and musical projects developed here and there, such as Soft Machine, Caravan, Gong, Matching Mole, Hatfield and The North, National Health, or Robert Wyatt’s first solo projects.

From a musical point of view, the stylistic diversification of Canterbury’s bands is such that it seems difficult to speak of a true unitary genre of music: indeed, rock represents only a linguistic koïné from which the artists in question search for their own languages, by way of psychedelia and sound editing, sometimes inspired by free jazz, sometimes by a writing close to minimalism, or even by choosing the paths of a pop songwriting tinged with humour.

The common points of this “scene” (the quotation marks stand out) are to be sought rather outside of the stylistic traits themselves: first of all in the existence of a network of relations (firstly human, then professional) between these musicians, as shown by the numerous transversal musical collaborations, which has allowed them to be identified as a rather unitary group of artists. Secondly, in the attitude of Canterbury groups and musicians generally characterized by an understatement that could be defined as “typically” British, which distances them both from the flamboyant postures of rock stars, but also from the intellectualism often displayed in the contexts of contemporary music and jazz.

This colloquium, whose languages will be French and English, is intended as a moment of meeting, debate and deepening around this “Canterbury scene”. The organisers are planning to give it a multidisciplinary dimension that will allow the participants to tackle both musicological and musical subjects as well as sociological, cultural, literary and even economic aspects.

Call for Papers:

Proposals for papers, including an abstract of the intervention (400 words maximum) and a short biographical note, should be sent to the following address before September 30, 2020: [email protected].

They will be evaluated by the scientific committee mentioned above. The call for papers will consist of 20 minutes (followed by a discussion period) devoted to the following themes, but is open to other suggestions:

  • history of the “Canterbury scene” or of individual groups/artists
  • musical analysis of particular pieces and various analytical approaches
  • stage performance study
  • study of sung texts: poetic, surrealist or humorous dimension
  • study of texts written by the musicians (album covers, articles), interviews with them, published scores, etc.
  • the artistic and cultural legacy of the “Canterbury scene”.
  • sociological aspects
  • the relationship of these groups and artists with the record industry
  • iconography: study of album covers, posters, etc.
  • Putting the “Canterbury scene” in perspective with other underground music scenes and the rock scene in general.
  • study of recent concert or recording projects carried out in homage to these groups.

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