The Project

Rhythms of Labour is a book and its companion CD that explore the history of music in the workplace in the British Isles.

Focussing on manual occupations and covering from pre-industrial times to the present day, the book was written and the CD compiled by Marek Korczynski, Mike Pickering and Emma Robertson. 

The whole motivation for the project came from observing contemporary culture. We all spend 40 hours at work a week, but if you look at one of our key forms of popular culture – pop songs – they hardly reference work at all.  So, if music and work are now largely separated, questions immediately emerge: 
- has this always been the case?
- if music and work used to be connected, how and why did the disconnection happen?  

Once we had started with these questions, we kept digging and found that, whilst these questions appeared more and more important (not least for the people who had sung at work, and who were later silenced), it was apparent that nobody had really fully begun seeking answers to them.  

So it was left to the authors to draw, with help from grants from both the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, a historical overview of music at work.  

One of the authors, Marek Korczynski, talks about some aspects of the project in an interview with The Quietus, an on-line music magazine.   

A song from the companion CD:

 Bob Hart - CD1, Track2

© Mareck Korczynski, Michael Pickering, Emma Robertson, Cambridge University Press, Harbourtown Records 2013-2017