Project Theme: Music

Music on the Street

Live music has been a vital part of the Coney Street soundscape for centuries - from the street-criers and ballad-singers who plied their trade in all weathers, to the fanfares of the city waites, quadrilles danced at the Assembly rooms, and the sounds of instruments being put through their paces in piano saloons and organ workshops. In our own memories, sounds from buskers on the streets and dance-floors in nightclubs mingle with the bustle of shoppers and revellers out on the town.

More recently, the temporary closure of theatres, music venues, and places of worship in communities like York has been one of the most keenly felt hardships of the pandemic, just at the time many of us were turning to music for consolation. And for those whose livelihoods and sense of identity depend on live performance, the consequences have been devastating.

Our music researchers, Katie Wycliffe and Lucy Barker, have been exploring the sounds and images of the street, as well as tracing the echoes of Coney Street's musical past through the archives. Some of the results can already be seen and heard in the StreetLife Hub at 29-31 Coney Street, and more will unfold over the coming weeks and as the project gathers steam.

As this year's spring turns to summer, join the StreetLife team and our partners the York Music Venue Network in reconnecting with the sounds of the street and its communities, hearing the familiar with fresh ears, and looking ahead - just imagine how music and the creative arts could transform the high streets of the future!

Discovering Musical You

But what about your own story in music? What is the music that has meant most to you over the years, and where has it taken you? What would you like to have done in music but never got the chance? Might now be the perfect time to develop a new musical skill or interest, to take up an instrument, or start to discover your singing voice?

Free Workshops and Experiences

Our unfolding programme of free music workshops, experiences, and events offers plenty to explore whatever your background, tastes, and inspirations - from DJing and hip-hop, through folk-singing and ukulele, to composition with found sounds and experimental improvisation. Our workshop leaders will meet you where you are and open up new musical possibilities, whether you're an absolute beginner or an aspiring professional, and at every stage in between. Family workshops with the emphasis on having fun and building confidence are just as important as the opportunity to refine a particular skill, discover new musical worlds, and take your first step on a path towards your ideal career. New events will be coming online over the weeks ahead, responding to conversations and feedback with those taking part, so keep checking back!

Community Archives

And if you have memories of music-making and live music in York, we would love to hear from you - where and how did you buy your first records, what musical events and experiences do you remember, who taught you, whose music did you dance to, and where are those tickets and programmes you've been keeping in a box all these years? Help us to take the first steps towards a walking tour of York's historical music sites and venues, and a digital archive of music-making in York, by coming along to one of our community archiving sessions (details to be announced shortly!)