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UAL Research Online

Sing while you work: the ‘rise of the choir’ in austerity

Bramall, Rebecca (2015) Sing while you work: the ‘rise of the choir’ in austerity. In: 5th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies, 10-12 June 2015, University of Edinburgh.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Bramall, Rebecca
Description:

This paper was presented as part of a panel titled 'Singing from the same hymn sheet? The role of choirs, collective singing and affective belonging' organized by Rebecca Bramall and Emily Falconer (LSBU).

In the popular BBC television show The Choir: Sing While You Work (2012, 2013) choirmaster Gareth Malone initiates ensemble singing in diverse workplaces. During the course of the show’s two series, the value and benefits of singing are confidently articulated. The Choir reflects and perpetuates the ‘rise of the choir’ in the context of economic austerity, a discourse in which choral singing has been celebrated as an activity that enables the ‘time-strapped’ and ‘stress-ridden’ to ‘pull back some balance into their lives’ (Stylist, 2013).

In this paper I draw on theories of affective labour, and of the relationship between music and capitalism, to explore the relationship between the popularity of choral singing and new economic contexts, specifically of employment and work. Commentators on the ‘rise of the choir’ have tended to focus their critical attentions on debating the transformative effects of ensemble singing. I suggest that in The Choir and the wider discursive context, the pleasures and imputed benefits of choral singing simultaneously illuminate and neutralize a critique of the negative effects of the neoliberal workplace. Choirs and singing are identified as that which the workplace lacks, yet once these ensembles and practices are established their benefits are shown to enhance neoliberal logics of efficiency and competitiveness.

In conclusion, I consider the opportunities that this national-popular interest in ensemble singing might nonetheless afford for developing a more radical critique of the neoliberal workplace, focusing on the collectivities that workplace choirs originate.

Official Website: https://emotionalgeographiesconference.wordpress.com/
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: cultural studies, cultural economy
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: 11 June 2015
Funders: London College of Communication
Event Location: University of Edinburgh
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2015 15:06
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2015 15:06
Item ID: 8270
URI: http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/8270

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