‘Immersed in the conflict’

Mike Westbrook’s Marching Song (1969) and the landscape and soundscape of war


  • Duncan Heining Oxford Brookes University




Bourdieu, improvisation, jazz, landscape, programme music, World War One


With his third album, Marching Song, Mike Westbrook demonstrated the potential of jazz, and of British jazz, to explore both a wide sonic palette and complex social, cultural and historical events. He did so, in this instance, using the idea of landscape as both a metaphor and mediating concept. To comprehend such a composition, the critic must seek to enter the composer’s frame of reference (habitus) and the work’s wider cultural field. To do so a knowledge of both jazz history and history in its broader sense are required. The methodology utilized here focuses on the creative process itself, drawing upon the work of both Pierre Bourdieu and Jason Toynbee.

Author Biography

Duncan Heining, Oxford Brookes University

Duncan Heining has written about jazz for a variety of publications, including Jazzwise, Jazz UK, Avany Magazine and The Independent. He is the author of George Russell: An American Composer (Scarecrow, 2009), and Trad Dads, Dirty Boppers and Free Fusioneers: British Jazz 1960–1975 (Equinox, 2012). He is currently studying for a PhD in Musicology at Oxford Brookes University.


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How to Cite

Heining, D. (2013). ‘Immersed in the conflict’: Mike Westbrook’s Marching Song (1969) and the landscape and soundscape of war. Popular Music History, 7(3), 301–323. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.v7i3.301