All posts by Dr Graeme Wilson

After completing a PhD in Psychology at the University of Glasgow, applying personal construct theory to family studies, Graeme moved to the Music Psychology research group at Glasgow Caledonian University, followed by research in public health and teaching saxophone at Newcastle University. He has published more than 20 journal articles and book chapters, including work with Prof Raymond MacDonald on identities among musicians. With research interests in jazz and improvised music, identities, discourse and qualitative methodologies, he joined the School of Music in 2014 to develop research on group improvisation across the arts and to implement the Scottish Music and Health Network. His musical practice as a saxophonist and composer reflects these interests, exploring interactive processes and selected texts as referents for collective improvisation. A founding member of Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, he is featured on over 25 CD releases, including recent albums by the group ACV, and has performed nationally and abroad with musicians such as George Lewis, Evan Parker, and Julian Siegel. His commissioned works for saxophone quartet, jazz orchestra and large improvising ensemble have been performed at venues including Sage, Gateshead and Festspielhaus Hellerau, Dresden.

Remembering B.B. King

News of legendary entertainer B.B. King’s death came as a jolt. The monumentality of his contribution to popular music created the impression that somehow he would always be around, striding onto someone else’s record to make you wonder why they were there, superstars or not. His ability to spark collaborations with unlikely partners – U2, The Crusaders, the GRP Big Band, Cyndi Lauper – meant that in the ’80s and ’90s there weren’t many genres you could approach without coming across him. This could seem surprising until you considered that all this music – stadium rock, smooth funk or state-of-the-art big band – all traced roots to the wellspring of Delta blues that formed B.B. King.

He tends to be labelled as a widely influential blues guitarist, but his singing was at least as striking as what came from his fretboard, and was what brought him to attention first. I saw King perform twice during his lifetime of incessant touring, and had never seen such blatant showmanship before: the band stoking the blues for a good 20 minutes before the great man walked on stage to top it all, and relentless encores infused with the same chutzpah as his advice for the queen of England (sic) when she corners him in the street during ‘You’d Better Not Look Down’. What I remember most from the live shows is that his voice and guitar seemed interchangeable. The voice rang out like an electric guitar, and Lucille (the guitar) sang back in the solos, a percussive approach and portamento wails perfectly recreating the vocal delivery. King himself acknowledged this link, stating that, ideally, ‘you wouldn’t know when Lucille stopped and my voice began’1. This gave his guitar playing the emphatic restraint so often lacking in overenthusiastic blues players since.

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Mapping the Future for Music and Health Research in Scotland

Everyone who enjoys music knows it can make them feel good. They recognise the welcome of an old favourite, or the excitement of hearing for the first time something they know they’re going to love. Musicians and healthcare professionals have long been aware of the potential for music, played or heard, to affect our health; the earliest applications of music in clinical settings in the UK date back more than a century (1). More recently, research interest in these links has burgeoned across the life sciences, particularly here in Scotland. On June 23rd, the new Scottish Music and Health Network brought together more than a hundred researchers, musicians, clinicians and patient group representatives from around Scotland (with a few from further south) to discuss how to build the evidence for music as a means to improve wellbeing.

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