Music and Sound Course Director, Michael Ward, explains why music is so powerful, and how it can help individuals and communities during difficult times: “When I first moved to Leeds to go to university, my student experience was defined in my first year when I was introduced to an album that changed my life. That album was Spiderland by Slint. A love of alternative music was cemented, a new friend made and a future career direction started. Sharing music is an incredibly powerful thing. 

Now that we are in these strange times, music is as important today as it ever was, perhaps even more so. Gig venues lie silent, studios paused, record shops supplying online only right at a time when music was in the ascendancy and making increasing contributions to the economy of the city and to the country. The internet and streaming music services, however, present us with an opportunity to share music like never before. We can still be together listening however far apart we are.”

Michael set up the online album listening club for students and staff to share their comments on the music they love through a shared twitter hashtag #LSALockdownListens. Michael said: “Wherever we are, we sit down with our computer, smartphone, or turntable at the ready, eager to press play all at the same time and sit and listen to two albums.

While we are listening, the person who picked each album tweets along as the tracks are playing giving us all some insight in to why they love that album. We have had contributions from both students and staff. Music and Sound’s Ken Scott provided insights into his experience of producing ‘Crime of the Century’ by Supertramp.”

Oliver Nixon is one of the students who has been involved in #LSALockdownListens. Oliver said: “Hosting Molchat Doma’s Etazhi for the lockdown listening sessions was a wonderful experience, it made me really listen to the album again and it also gave me the chance to research the band. I felt very connected to the people listening along with all the likes, replies and retweets.”

Michael continues: “Leeds has an incredibly active music scene that will continue throughout and beyond this difficult period. Venues such as Oporto and Brudenell Social Club are hosting regular live streams of performances and industry interviews, while artists are writing online and making plans to release existing recordings – over 100 new tracks were released in May alone, including many artists from Leeds Beckett University including D5, Eskimoh, As Sirens Fall, Henna, Paradas and more. The listening club will continue after lockdown, and we hope to see each other ‘down the front’ at gigs very soon.”

If you want to get involved in #LSALockdownListens follow @BeckettMusic on Twitter.

Michael Ward

Course Director / Leeds School Of Arts

Michael Ward is a Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for BSc (Hons) Music Technology. His specialist areas are sound reproduction, mastering and computational models for machine listening.

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