Sharing music and understanding

It has been quite a long time since I have written here as I have been deep in the fieldwork stage of the project. Locating men who want to meet and talk about both domestic violence and gang involvement is tricky to say the least. It has been compounded by the pressures on front-line organisations in the current climate to have the capacity to support additional projects like research. To date I have met with six men for in-depth and often lengthy interviews. As discussed before, I am employing unique interviewing methods, using music as an elicitation tool. Each participant is asked to bring along three music tracks that help them tell parts of their life story. It has been an incredibly effective tool, more than I imagined it would be. Participants have utilized the music differently; some to structure the interview into chapters; some to use the lyrics to say things that were hard to say; some use the music videos as metaphors or examples of their lives. I am now starting to work through the data, peeling back the layers of what was said and finding commonalities (or not). This is going to be a big process itself. As I work through the transcripts and listen back to the songs and interviews I always feel staggered, overwhelmed at times, that these men decided to share their stories with me, opening their hearts, their pasts, trusting me with their life stories with the sincere hope it will make a difference somehow. It is a big responsibility.

I thought that it would be compelling for me to start sharing some of the music tracks with you so you can join in on the journey that I am going on. I am in the beginning stages of analysis, so I won’t divulge my analysis at this stage, that will come later. I just invite you to listen and open your mind to what the men were communicating through their song choices. If you have any observations do feel free to add them in the comments, I would love to know your thoughts.

So for starters, have a listen to WestSideGunn ft. Tiona D – Never Coming Homme

This song was chosen as it both visually and lyrically represent what the participant wanted to convey. The poverty and gritty environment in childhood contrasted with the rappers relative ‘suaveness’- his slickness and smart presentation despite the circumstances. It also related to him never going home once he left.

I am still open for more participants at the moment, so if you or someone you know would like to take part get in touch; jade.levell@open.ac.uk

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