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Title: The social and cultural history of Black Dyke Mills Band c.1900-c.1970 : change and continuity in the life of a leading brass band
Author: Wilkinson, Andrew Morley
Awarding Body: Leeds Beckett University
Current Institution: Leeds Beckett University
Date of Award: 2013
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The subject of this thesis is Black Dyke Mills Band, from Queensbury, West Yorkshire, and founded by John Foster in 1855. Important aspects of the band and its activities are examined from 1900, a time when brass bands were probably at their peak, both in terms of numbers and public popularity. The subsequent seventy years witnessed a period of significant societal and cultural change that included the rise of commercial youth culture and new forms of popular music, to the ostensible detriment of the brass band movement. This study aims to assess why, and to what extent, there were changes not only in the membership and operation of the band, but also in its functions, repertoire and methods of communicating with the public. Key primary sources include the diaries of an ex-bandmaster, Arthur O. Pearce, the Business Archives of John Foster and Son, the brass band press, local newspapers, BBC archival records, and oral history. The chapters deal with the early history of the band and John Foster's business; the ongoing relationship between the band, the Foster family and the local community; the management and membership of the band; the band's repertoire over the period, and its contact with the public; Black Dyke's recording and broadcasting career in association with an overview of the BBC's contemporary policies relating to brass bands. 1 Although there were fluctuations in contest success, Black Dyke was able to retain its prominence at or near the top of the band movement for the whole of the period. Whilst in general brass bands were receding into the background of public consciousness, Black Dyke (along with a small number of other bands) was able to enhance its reputation by taking advantage of increasing commercial entertainment opportunities, including recording and broadcasting, and thus to engage with a wider audience than ever before. In order to satisfy that broad constituency of listeners, Black Dyke's repertoire expanded over the period, although there were significant continuities in what was played. At times, as the demands of public concert performance increased, contesting, so central to the brass band movement, appeared to become less of a preoccupation for Black Dyke in the twentieth century. Factors that remained constant were the backing provided by John Foster and Son, and the popularity the band retained in its home village. In addition, whilst the number of band members employed at the mill declined towards the end of the period, the democratic operation of the band, and the dedication of the bandsmen themselves remained unaffected; the evidence of brass banding as serious leisure was amply demonstrated.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available