Music as an adventure playground

Music: What is it good for?

In the 1970s, at a time when we were less anxious about many things than we are today, there was a vogue for adventure playgrounds in which young people could scramble about, get dirty, build dens and invent games with only minimal adult supervision. It was a good idea, I think: we all need a bit of freedom and wildness, if we are to grow. Most of the adventure playgrounds have gone or been sanitised to meet the standards of today’s more fearful culture. Music, though, cannot be tamed. It is one of our very best adventure playgrounds. Music. What is good for? Playing.

To read the full text of this talk, given at the 2014 Sage Gateshead and Sound Sense community music event, click on the link below.


  1. Adventure playgrounds are a great metaphor – Nils Norman has produced a book pulling together documentation of the ones in London in the 70s and 80s. It’s a gem. Assemble are in the process of creating a new one in Glasgow as part of Velocity – the City’s response to the Commonwealth

  2. Nice to see a reiteration of the social benefits of the arts 17 years after the ‘use or ornament’ report. I’d only disagree with the bit about metrics–I think we need (and have a public responsibility to have) sophisticated and useful ones, but they won’t ever be about aesthetics. (Simon McKerrell).

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