Focus on: David Horn

I’m currently editing Vol.IX of the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, which is devoted to popular music genres in Europe. My co-editor for this volume is Paolo Prato,who lives in Rome, and this will be the fourth volume in a seven volume set on genres. I have lost track of how long the volume has been in the making (one of the contributors recently referred to something he had written ‘aboriginally’). The normal editing process is like being in a tunnel, but with some peripheral vision. Sometimes, thankfully, lateral thinking breaks through, usually in the form of a question there is insufficient time to address.  The past week was a good one in that regard, as it happened twice, in quite different generic contexts. I’ll just mention the first. It occurred while working on an entry on ‘Písničky divadel malých forem’, which refers to songs in Czech for small or fringe theatres. These theatres were an important cultural phenomena in Czechoslovakia during the 1960s and, the author says, ‘were connected with the qualitative as well as quantitative expansion of modern popular music in the country’.   It set me wondering whether this kind of process – small, fringe theatres being the creative space in which new popular music grew, in politically challenging times – happened elsewhere post World War 2, and if it could ever happen again.