Singing bodies: Cultural geographies of song and health in Glasgow

Boyd, Sophia Francesca (2021) Singing bodies: Cultural geographies of song and health in Glasgow. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis is a scaled enquiry into the embodied practice of collective singing in Glasgow, encompassing breathing bodies, singing collectives, sites of song, and a musical city. Using practice-led research by a singing practitioner and geographer, the thesis explores the establishment of a singing-for-breathing group attended by people living with chronic respiratory illness in Glasgow’s East End. The research charts and interprets the journey of the group through interviews with its members, reflexive creative workshops, and an autoethnographic narration of sessions. These materials show how singing and deep breathing exercises help group members relearn their breath and find their voice, gaining greater autonomy over their bodies in this non-clinical setting. Singing practice shapes and guides the breath, but also creates affective atmospheres of breath work and emotional soundscapes. The embodied and emotional geographies of singing are shown to impact the group members' day-to-day lives. Members report that breathing practice learned through singing helps the management of breathlessness caused by their chronic respiratory illness. Gaining control of breath reshapes the lifeworld experiences of members, placing the singing group as an important non-clinical intervention in their journey through illness. While the thesis is organised around a central narrative about the singing-for-breath group, the reader is also introduced to Glasgow’s wider singing cultures through three short interludes. Here, the voices of a small political song group, the psalm-singing of a Presbyterian church, and the reflective song of a deathbed choir offer insights into the varied and diverse uses and practices of song in city communities. These snapshots of collective singing practices also contextualise the singing-for-breathing group within the broader framework of Glasgow’s singing culture and open up new understandings of spaces and songs as relatable social phenomena.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Parr, Professor Hester and Lorimer, Professor Hayden
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82632
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2022 12:38
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2022 11:43
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82632

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