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Why, despite the rhetoric and long-term investment, have strategies directed at communities often failed to turn them around in the ways hoped for, and why have they failed to ‘empower communities’? We argue that this is because of three fundamental errors of approach. First, a tendency to view community empowerment as having a utilitarian and managerialist purpose, rather than as an essential political and human right. Thus community engagement tends to only be valued for creating more effective and efficient services. Second, the failure to realise that the way in which local government and public services are structured has effectively prevented the state (nationally and locally) and communities from working together to transform communities. Third, the tendency to oversimplify our understanding of how radical change in communities can be achieved, through unhelpful slogans such as ‘top down doesn't work, only a bottom-up approach can work’.
If past governments had come to grips with these issues of empowering communities structurally and politically, they could have played a significant role not only in supporting community-based transformation, but also in addressing the long-developing crises of confidence in our political and democratic systems that many communities have (see Figure 8.1).
The development of the ‘45° Change’ model (Lawson, 2019) and the follow-up pamphlet ‘Participation at 45°’ (Miller et al, 2020) confront these issues and argue that a key reason for the failure of ‘top-down’ government programmes and the weakness of the ‘bottom-up’ change model is because transformative change requires both. We need to bring together the vertical power of government with the horizontal power of civil society to create a deeper democracy based on shared and distributed forms of power (Lawson, 2019).
Crises in democracy: voting, alienation and taking back control
‘Take back control’ caught the mood like no other slogan in my lifetime. For too long, people felt decision-making to be remote and unaccountable, imposing change that is unwelcome, stripping them of meaningful choices and denying them urgency over their lives and communities. (Lisa Nandy MP, quoted in Lawson, 2019, p 4)
Government motivation for focusing on communities is usually based on concern with apparently intractable issues of poverty and deprivation but also, particularly during the Labour period (1997– 2010), an underlying concern with the ‘growing sense of citizens feeling inadequately empowered to influence local decisions and conditions’ (DCLG, 2008, p 6).
Clarinetists around the world have recently been discovering that engagement with early instruments can radically expand their musical horizons. Taking account of original conditions of performance (insofar as they can be determined) has the capacity to bring significant new perspectives to a player's artistic life. Different historical clarinets present satisfying technical challenges, and their range of response can be a visceral experience, both physically and aesthetically. In particular, one might want to argue that the nuances available from most early clarinets (or copies) are well-nigh impossible to match on the modern instrument. Perhaps the very design of the familiar Boehm instrument encourages a tonal homogeneity that has diminished the clarinet's rhetorical potential.
As historical performance has become more widespread, the remarkable popularity of the modern clarinet is gradually being matched by its historical counterparts. Furthermore, it has become increasingly difficult to sustain the argument that period instruments are somehow more difficult to play within their own idiomatic repertoire. At the same time, it must be admitted that some fluent players of Boehm-system clarinets have been content to overload their early clarinets with anachronistic mechanisms and to pay scant attention to matters of style. Indeed, each period clarinetist, unwittingly or otherwise, establishes an individual position on a spectrum that ranges from historical fidelity to practical expediency. Some clarinetists have a genuine love of old instruments, while others have wanted to get as close as possible to the aesthetic of modern instruments—disguised in boxwood.
In any case, opportunities now exist to commission copies of various types of early clarinets and to perform a range of repertoire using instruments that come close to what a composer would have known. Given sufficient dedication, any experienced and open-minded player can achieve technical command over a wide range of clarinets.
Investigating the Past: The Evolving Panorama
More than a century ago the French instrument maker and musical pioneer Arnold Dolmetsch remarked in his seminal book, “we can no longer allow anyone to stand between us and the composer.” The movement he helped to found has been well documented in Harry Haskell's The Early Music Revival, an account of the activities of musicologists, editors, publishers, makers, collectors, curators, dealers, librarians, performers, teachers, and record producers.