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The term Canterbury Sound emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s to refer to a signature style within psychedelic and progressive rock developed by bands such as…
The term Canterbury Sound emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s to refer to a signature style within psychedelic and progressive rock developed by bands such as Caravan and Soft Machine as well as key artists including Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers. This chapter explores Canterbury as a metaphor and reality, a symbolic space of music inspiration which has produced its distinctive ‘sound’.
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, particularly observations and interviews with music artists and cultural intermediates (Bourdieu, 1993), we suggest that the notion of the Canterbury Sound – with its affinity for experimentation, distinctive chord progressions and jazz allusions in a rock music format – is perceived as a continuing artistic and aesthetic influence. We interpret the genealogy of the Canterbury Sound alternativity through discussions focused on the position of the ‘Sound’ within contemporary heritage discourses, the metaphorical and geographical implications of place in relation to popular music, and cultural longevity of the phenomenon.