Follow the band : community brass bands in the Scottish Borders
This thesis presents research into the history and contemporary context of brass bands in the Scottish Borders. It discusses how the survival of the brass bands in the Scottish Borders can be accounted for over the last 150 years, in particular with regard to the continuity of their interaction with the community which has enabled them to overcome cultural, social and demographic changes. The textile industry which provided a stimulus for the formation of the brass bands in the nineteenth century has largely disappeared, but the traditional role of the bands has been carried forward to the present day. Previous study of the social and cultural history of the brass band movement has concentrated on the history of brass banding in the North of England. Although research into the history of brass bands has been carried out in other areas of Britain such as the South of England this is the first in-depth study of these bands in a region of Scotland. This research follows previous studies of amateur music-making in specific locations by studying in detail the brass bands that exist in seven towns and one village of the Scottish Borders where the bands can date their formation to the mid-nineteenth century. Historical and archival research has provided most of the data relating to the first hundred years, including the use of individual band archives, local newspaper archives and museum records. Ethnographic methods, including interviews and participant observation, have provided the data for more recent times. Details of brass band repertoires have been extracted from various sources including musical examples taken from individual band libraries. A central research finding is the strong relationship of the brass bands with their local communities, particularly the support given to the bands by local people and the way in which the bands support their communities by providing music for civic and community events. The close relationship of the brass bands with their local communities has been fundamental in providing the means by which the bands have been sustained over time. There is a strong Scottish Borders identity that links the towns, especially through family ties, and this is also found in a musical repertoire with songs that are specifically connected to the region and to individual towns. By playing this music for civic and community events, especially at the time for the Common Ridings which are annual events unique to the Scottish Borders, the brass bands have provided a service to the community which has ensured their survival.