Musical Ownership and Pop-folk on Jersey

Sustaining Tradition through Intervention, Technology and Creative Practice


  • Henry Johnson University of Otago



creative practice, cultural sustainability, intervention, Jersey, Jèrriais, music ownership, pop-folk, technology, tradition, Badlabecques


This article is a study of musical ownership and pop-folk on the island of Jersey. Focusing on the amateur pop-folk band Badlabecques, the discussion highlights how traditional songs have been sustained through intervention, technology and creative practice. What makes this band different to most mainstream groups performing in a similar style is that it was assembled as a result of intervention by language educators who were seeking to find ways of popularizing the island’s severely endangered language, Jèrriais. By re working folk songs through the use of technology and creative practice, the band is attempting to make Jèrriais more appealing to a younger generation of potential speakers. While language sustainability and promotion are at the core of the band’s raison d’être, this particular group is also creative with its new renderings of traditional songs as constructed in the contemporary cultural imaginary. The discussion explores the dialectics of musical ownership for one contemporary pop-folk band in a context of linguistic and musical intervention, and offers insights into the use of new media technologies in the promotion of traditional and neo-traditional songs. Such an approach helps foreground some of the changing, and sometimes challenging, dynamics at work in the production of folk song in the contemporary era.

Author Biography

Henry Johnson, University of Otago

Henry Johnson is Professor of Music at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He has edited, guest edited or co-edited various journals, including Yearbook for Traditional Music, Perfect Beat, Musicology Australia and New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies. His more recent books include The Shakuhachi (Brill, 2014), Recentring Asia (Global Oriental, 2011; co-edited), Cultural Transformations (Rodopi, 2010; co-edited), The Shamisen (Brill, 2010), Performing Japan (Global Oriental, 2008; co-edited) and The Koto (Hotei, 2004).


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How to Cite

Johnson, H. (2018). Musical Ownership and Pop-folk on Jersey: Sustaining Tradition through Intervention, Technology and Creative Practice. Journal of World Popular Music, 2(1), 19–39.



Technology and Ownership