Transmitting Musical Heritage

  • James Fagan

Music and Musicians

Understandings about heritage are inherent in the ways we perceive certain musical sounds. What is transmitted and how are both important but ultimately the music is the primary agent in the process. The material is the vehicle for transmitting a wider heritage – style, culture, history.

Traditional music occupies different spheres simultaneously. It straddles community ideals and a high art aesthetic. It is reinvented every time it is played and also carries a history.

Music enables creativity, collaboration and communication without the need for spoken language. Being a musician can equip us with transferable skills, such as adaptability and resourcefulness in collaborative settings. Music can be compared to a set of languages – when different modes meet new understandings are found. In similar ways, contrasting areas such as music and administration can coexist, occasionally with tensions, but with a new clarity reached in the spaces between comfort zones. Music making may play only a small part in a musical project.

Music lends strength to individual heritages. Sheffield is a rich environment for diverse musical groups. Balancing collaboration and individuality, and ancient and modern vocabularies, we may see the emergence of something greater than the sum of its parts.

Music is embodied in people.  Transmitting musical heritage is a potent way to connect with others. Passion is central.


As musicians ourselves I think we know what else is involved in fiddle playing other than just learning tunes. So at a fiddle workshop somewhere you might just go in learn a tune or two but actually I think the fiddle weekend is about all the other stuff that isn’t that and I think that being fiddle players ourselves we’re very aware what that is.

Sam Sweeney