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Music From the Outer Edges

Gus Garside is a freelance consultant with considerable experience of working within the learning disability arts world. The following essay is grounded with the extensive work he has done with learning disabled musicians as project manager, mentor and access consultant.

Disability Desert Island Discs

Dao asked Richard Downes to compile a list of favourite tracks by disabled musicians / composers. He got stuck into FaceBook and asked people to nominate their top three tracks from the Disability Rights Movement and to say something about why those tracks empower you as a disabled person.

Attitude is Everything: the rise of access for disabled music lovers and musicians

In 2000 Suzanne Bull MBE set up Attitude is Everything (AiE) to challenge the music industry to improve their access to Deaf and disabled customers.  Fourteen years on the organisation has had a lot of success in persuading the UK music industry that there are advantages to be found in raising their game when it comes to access provision for disabled people. Colin Hambrook recently talked to Suzanne about AiE’s beginnings and where the organisation is heading.

IroniCrip Disco presents the best of the worst

Richard Downes is an avid music-lover with a very large music collection, so when it came to commissioning a feature that highlights some of the less savoury ways in which disability gets represented, musically he was an obvious writer to ask. Drawing on a knowledge of some of the more obscure elements of popular music, IroniCrip Disco exemplifies how often we might hear a song and only subliminally recognise any meaning within it.

Music for the Masses

Dao asked Mik Scarlet to capture a slice of Disability Arts history from the 1990s when a bunch of disabled musicians set their sights on a career within the music industry.​ He looks back with a sense of pride at what they achieved against inumerable odds.

Beethoven: challenging prejudice about the composers' deafness as personal tragedy

Beethoven’s deafness is a topic which needs and deserves much more thorough investigation, says Emmeline Burdett responding to a recent column by Philip Collins in the Times newspaper. The article is just one illustration of how discriminatory language persists unchecked in the media

Political Pop to Pierce The Prophylaxis of The Non-Disabled

Robin Surgeoner AKA Angryfish looks for political songwriting. Looking for a definition he asks does it exist within “philosophical laments, agit-pop, punk angst, prosaic provocative folk, indie rock, hard rock, reggae rock, and the list goes on…” 

Composers, Trauma and The First World War: the sprouted poppy-rooted veins of British pastoral music

As part of the commemoration of the centenary of the beginning of the 1914 war, Dao commissioned Dr Simon Jenner to write an appreciation of lives of British composers, disabled by The First World War

Interview: Who Is Johnny Crescendo?

This month is the 25th Anniversary of Richard Reiser and Micheline Mason’s report 'Disability Equality in the Classroom: A Human Rights Issue'. To celebrate this milestone, the authors are holding a two-day conference from 20-21 March, a highlight of which will be a performance headlined by singer, songwriter Johnny Crescendo, the Disability Arts pioneer and founder of the Direct Action Network. Robin Surgeoner talks to the musician about his life and lyrics.

Technology Is Key

Mik Scarlet started out on the road to being a musician when he was given a toy electric keyboard and thanks to music technology, became one a handful of disabled musicians performing during a period when it was almost unheard of. Here he charts the progress of assistive music technology and talks to Gary Day and Ivan Riches from Drake Music London to find out what modern music tech has to offer disabled musicians.

Review: Fast Forward Festival: Inclusive Excellence Conference

Hosted by Bristol Music Trust in the newly re-ramped Colston Hall, the purpose of the conference on 3 July was to take an honest and much-needed look at the inequity of the music industry and address the many barriers that exist for disabled people who want to participate in and listen to the best music available. Review by Alice Holland

Conductor James Rose designs his own head-baton to help fulfil a lifelong ambition

Disabled conductor, James Rose has been developing a specially-designed head-baton as an accessible aide to conduct using head movements. After working on several prototypes, Rose is now ready to take the project a step further, with a funding application to Arts Council England. Joe Turnbull chronicles his progress thus far.