Jezinski - Isms go to Town: the Canterbury Scene in the Ideological Perspective [Nov. 20, 2020]


Colloque international et interdisciplinaire

Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt et la scène de Canterbury : un regard différent sur le rock dans les années 1960 et 1970

Strasbourg, 20 novembre 2020


Organisation : Pierre Michel, (professeur à l'Université de Strasbourg, saxophoniste), Jacopo Costa (docteur de l'Université de Strasbourg, percussionniste), Elsa Grassy (MCF à l’Université de Strasbourg, Etudes américaines)

Comité scientifique : Jacopo Costa, Philippe Lalitte, Pierre Michel, Nicolò Palazzetti

Support technique : Arnaut Zeller, Vincent Kuster, Alexandre Freund-Lehmann

Mise en ligne des vidéos : Ruben Marzà


Marek Jezinski - Isms go to Town: the Canterbury Scene in the Ideological Perspective

In the paper, I examine the Canterbury Scene from the Marxist perspective, stressing the ideological approach of selected Scene’s musicians. I use the term “ideology” in a broad meaning as a certain vision of social relations expressed as a coherent set of viewpoints. Thus, it embraces not only political or social issues but also artistic questions. It is implied, that a part of the Canterbury Scene refers directly to the ideological assumptions, manifesting in their works numerous references to the political programs and ideologies such as socialism (found in the works of Matching Mole / R.Wyatt, R. Wyatt solo, National Health, Moving Gelatine Plates, Picchio dal Pozzo, The Muffins) or anarchism (displayed by Gong, D.Allen, D.Allen w. Here & Now Band). On the other hand, I discuss several direct and indirect references to artistic ideologies, such as 20th century Avant Garde music, surrealism and Dada movement (presented by The Soft Machine, Khan, Hatfield and the North, Kevin Ayers, National Health). In a sense, the Canterbury artists tried – using a Marxist term – to promote some aspects of ideological consciousness to the Western societies, which was relatively typical for
politically oriented performers at the turn of the 70s. and in the 70s decade (to mention only: Rock in Opposition movement, Italian progressive scene, or German politically oriented bands).
The Canterbury Scene directly arises from the ideological approach that was the aftermath of the youth rebellion of 1968 and the changes that it brought in mentality of young people in the West. It was a utopian vision of a post-industrial society, in which art and music were perceived as the important autotelic values that have a real impact on society. Its theoretical assumptions were found in the social analyses and critical writings of K. Marks, R. Vaineghem, H. Marcuse, K. Mannheim, L. Althusser, R. Williams, and politically oriented activities of the Situationist International. Thus, I argue that some artist of the Scene, apart from other functions fulfilled by their music, undertook educational activities by art aimed at bringing ideological consciousness to the young listeners of their records.

Prof. Marek Jezinski, PhD, is the head of Communication, Media and Journalism Dept. at Nicolas Copernicus University in Toruń (Poland). His main academic interests include contemporary popular culture, social anthropology, political science, sociology, and the mass media. He is an author of 6 monographs (including 3 on popular music) and over 150 academic papers on popular music, popular culture, cultural anthropology, political science, sociology, journalism, media and communication, and contemporary theatre. Also he is an editor of over a dozen academic books. His main hobby is music, he plays in experimental/industrial band Tacuara Nod and dark cyber industrial punk duo Der Birken.



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