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Living Song

Thursday 3 November 2011


The latest issue of the magazine of the National Association of Music Educators included a major article by David Sutton-Anderson, Head of Composition and Musicianship of the (RCMJD). The article outlines the ground-breaking project Living Song, a collaboration between RCMJD and the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

Living Song is a project which introduces RCMJD composers and singers to the tradition of folk song, with the aim of illuminating a different approach to composition and performance. Inspired by the work of Ralph Vaughan Williams, who studied and taught at the RCM, students are invited to make transcriptions of field recordings of folk songs, before transforming them into choral compositions which are performed by the RCMJD Chamber Choir. 

The project continues to be a great success. One RCMJD composition student describes the profound influence the project has had on them:

“I had never heard the true sound of folk music before. Not only did it help me experience folk music in a new way, it opened my eyes to new ways of understanding and appreciating music in general – everything I have done musically since has been much influenced by that natural sound and open-minded philosophy that comes from folk music.”

This year’s Living Song project will focus on songs collected by Percy Grainger, in this, his anniversary year.

Photograph taken by Maggie Hamilton.