'The boys in the band': a study in the cultural creation of community
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 11:52 authored by Graham G. Mills
This thesis examines brass bands as an aspect of Australian culture, and analyses their significance and function in a community context. It is principally concerned with what brass bands express through their music and how their members, as amateur musicians, pursue banding activities which are closely related to their lifestyles and social aspirations. As a prelude to the descriptive ethnography the history of Australian brass bands is traced from its origins in pre-industrial Europe to the present day. As a traditional form of cultural expression anid community organisation the brass band movement has developed into a sophisticated enterprise, and has an established place in national culture and popular celebration. The method of research is participant observation, and is thus primarily concerned with the sociomusical aspects of brass bands from the perspective of those involved in its musical production. To achieve this the researcher became a member of a brass band, which is taken as representative of a typical town band involved in the competitive tradition of the brass band movement. The data collected is derived rom the context and instance of musical production in order to maximise its relevance and specify its scope. Consequently the research concentrates on what the band did, and tried to express, as a cohesive social group when they were together. Separate chapters consecutively deal with; teaching youth to become musicians, bandpractices, the political economy of community music, brass band contesting, Anzac Day ceremonies, carnival celebrations, club concerts, public playouts, and the private social expressions of banding as a distinct cultural form. The thesis concludes that brass bands, like many other forms of amateur participant culture in Australia, are at the vital heart of community life. Their activities give voice to communal cultural expression and create cohesive social relationships which are of fundamental importance to Australian society.