More than a Band Aid : how the use of popular music helped a city recover after disaster

by Kris Vavasour

Institution: University of Canterbury
Year: 2016
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2077442
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10092/12432


The combination of music and disaster has been the subject of much study, especially starstudded telethons and songs that commemorate tragedy. However, there are many other ways that music can be used after disaster that provide benefits far greater than money or memorials but are not necessarily as prominent in the worldwide media landscape. Beginning in September 2010, the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, has been struck by several major earthquakes and over 11,000 aftershocks, the most destructive of which caused 185 deaths. As with many other disasters, music has been used as a method of fundraising and commemoration, but personal experience suggests many other ways that music can be used as a coping mechanism and aid to personal and community recovery. Therefore, in order to uncover the connections, context, and strategies behind its use, this thesis addresses the question: Since the earthquakes began, how has popular music been beneficial for the city and people of Christchurch? As well as documenting a wide variety of musical ‘earthquake relief’ events and charitable releases, this research also explores some of the more intangible aspects of the music-aid relationship. Two central themes are presented – fundraising and psychosocial uses – utilising individual voices and case studies to illustrate the benefits of music use after disaster at a community or city-wide level. Together the disparate threads and story fragments weave a detailed picture of the ways in which music as shared experience, as text, as commodity, and as a tool for memory and movement has been incorporated into the fabric of the city during the recovery phase.