P317
Creating worlds: ballad, song and environment

Convenors:
Thomas McKean (University of Aberdeen)
Location:
Tower B, Piso 2, Room T5
Start time:
20 April, 2011 at 11:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

This panel explores how songs are used to create community out of environment, how expressive cultures function as a 'way of feeling the world' and interpreting our surroundings. We also examine how songs help to shape our ecosystems ('people make places') by influencing human behaviour.

Long abstract:

This panel explores how songs create community out of environment and how expressive cultures function as a 'way of feeling the world' and interpreting our surroundings. We also examine the converse phenomenon of how songs help to shape our ecosystems ('people make places') by influencing human behaviour. Songs, as repositories of cultural memory, are anchored in local experience and practice. By mediating the world around us—the elements, natural features, supernatural obstacles, etc—they define our environment as one suitable for human life, giving us the metaphorical tools with which to negotiate its challenges. At the same time, songs can alter attitudes to the environment and encourage people to rediscover 'traditional' relationships with the landscape. Additionally, apart from direct environmental activism, songs and music from outside a culture can be positively seditious, becoming agents of change, or at least reflecting changing political landscapes. The panel will bring together international scholars from a range of disciplines to demonstrate the vitality and necessity of 'singing the land' and the vital role this plays in negotiating a relationship with our surroundings. Topics covered will include how songs encapsulate our knowledge of and relationship to the environment, how they shape our concepts of landscape and our place in it, how songs are used to make sense of natural disaster, how songs help us to control our fears in relation to the world around us, and how songs can be used both as agents of and discouragement to political change.