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    Representations of rural England in contemporary folk song

    Skinner, H (2017) Representations of rural England in contemporary folk song. Arts and the Market, 7 (2). pp. 137-158. ISSN 2056-4945


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    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore aural representation of the countryside and English rurality through the contemporary cultural product of folk song. Design/methodology/approach – A textual analysis was undertaken of the sleeve notes and lyrics of Steve Knightley, songwriter and founder member of the folk/roots band Show of Hands. Findings – The concept of the rural idyll is thoroughly debunked in the majority of these lyrics. Many songs make specific reference to place, and these, in the main, focus on the historical and contemporary hardships of living in rural England, in many cases also making explicit reference to the historical or contemporary social issues deemed by the lyricist to be at the root of the problems faced by people living in English rural communities. Research limitations/implications – This paper analyses data obtained in lyrics of only one songwriter within only one music genre, but the artist is one of the most respected within the contemporary folk genre, and Show of Hands have won a number of prestigious nationally recognised folk awards. Originality/value – The extant literature contains little concerning aural representations of place identities through song. The contribution this paper makes is therefore in presenting a conceptual framework that shows how folk song, as a contemporary cultural product contributes to the construction and communication of rural place identities.

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