An Oral History of London's Session Musicians
This project is set up and run by arts and educational charity digital:works working with the City of Westminster Archives Centre and Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre.
We are using oral history to explore, record and share the memories and experiences of generations of session musicians, many going back to the 1950s. We looked at the experiences of musicians across the musical spectrum, from rock and pop, to reggae and classical.
We examined the working conditions, the role of the studio, the union, the skills of the job and the creative process of a group of musicians coming together in the studios that were so prevalent in London up to 2010.
The project recorded the memories of 23 session musicians ensuring we got a good mix and spread of experience covering music genres, gender and ethnicity.
The project also explored how the process changed as technology developed in musical instruments, sampling and with computer technology in general. We recruited 12 volunteers who learned about the history through talks and studios tours. They then went through digital-work’s oral history training process, learning about the ethical issues as well as technical and practical side of oral history recording and interviewing. A reminiscence group provided the opportunity for the group to meet some session musicians informally before the interviews took place to get an idea of the issues and events that shaped the musicians' lives.
This team then worked together to conduct 23 interviews with older and retired musicians. In addition to audio recording we filmed the interviews which will allow us to produce a documentary film as well as a podcast series that will be shared widely.
The full interviews will be deposited with The Musical Museum, Camden Archives, Westminster Archives and Bishopsgate Institute.
This project is run by digital:works and is an important addition to our oral history projects, many of which explore the history of workers in London.
We are grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their financial support.
We worked closely throughout this project with The City of Westminster Local Studies Archive and with the London Borough of Camden's Local Studies Centre.
digital:works has been running oral history projects across London working with communities to explore the history of work and workers in the capital. Projects so far include printers on Fleet Street, bus workers, underground workers, black cab drivers, jewellers in Hatton Garden, tailors in Saville Row, the Thames Lightermen, Thames boatyards and more. Other projects explore the history of Battersea, North Kensington, Southall, Eel Pie Island, as well as some of London’s indoor and street markets. If you would like to see any of these wonderful films and find out more about digital:works please visit:
Oral history specialists digital-works are working with Westminster Archives and Camden Local Studies on a project that will explore the history of London's Session Musicians.
We invited people to join this wonderful project. They are part of a team, attending talks from historians, meeting session musicians, going on a behind the scenes tour of a recording studio and receive training in oral history techniques including interview and audio recording skills. After training they interviewed session musicians and a fixer involved in the industry leading to the production of a documentary film.
Please visit the news page of this website for more information.
We have conducted 23 interviews which are full of fascinatijng information bringing to life the working world of London's session musicians.
The full interviews will be available to listen to on this website and will also form an important addition to both Westminster and Camden Borough’s archives and will form the basis of an educational documentary film.
Below are some of the interviewees starting with Jody Lincsott, Everton Nelson, Paul Clarvis, Sara Lowenthal and finally Sonia Jones. For images of more musicians being interviewed and to find out more see the news page on this website to find out more.