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Using music to explore what it means to be human


Researchers from Newcastle University are encouraging anyone who believes themselves to be unmusical to come along to a series of free workshops being organised as part of a project to explore what it means to be human.

The ‘(re)inventing music’ project, which runs 15 – 23 November, will consist of a series of improvised music workshops during which participants will be guided through an exploration of various musical instruments and their possibilities, before taking part in a collective improvisation session in which all music is made up on the spot. It is hoped that regular playing throughout the week will help participants improve their confidence, culminating in a live public performance at Newcastle’s Bar Loco, alongside regulars of the Newcastle improvised music scene.

The project has been organised as part of Being Human, the UK’s first national festival of the humanities which will focus on activities that make humanities research accessible to the general public and demonstrate the role of the humanities in the cultural, intellectual, political and social life of the UK.

Charlie Bramley, a final year PhD student at Newcastle University who has organised the (re)inventing Music workshops, said: “It is fantastic to be part of Being Human and to have the opportunity to show the kinds of innovative, cutting-edge humanities research that is being undertaken here in Newcastle, and more importantly, how this research can have meaningful social impact. The relevance of this research is communicated specifically by allowing participants to craft and (re)invent their own interpretations and understandings of music-making, in a supportive, collective situation, facilitated by a community of improvisers made up of music students and local musicians”.

Both the workshops and the performance are completely free and open to all and will take place at Bar Loco restaurant and venue, 22 Leazes Park Road, Newcastle. The live public performance will take place on 23 November at 8pm. To find out more, or to join in, email Charlie Bramley or go to the website for more information.

The (re)inventing Music project has been made possible by a grant from the Being Human festival organisers the School of Advanced Study, University of London, with support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. Thirty-six grants have been awarded to universities and arts and cultural organisations across the UK to participate in the nine days of festival events taking place across the UK, from Truro to Orkney, Swansea to Belfast and Norwich to Liverpool.

Find out more about the festival at and follow on Twitter at @BeingHumanFest

published on: 5 November 2014