Celebrating the soundtrack of our lives

24 January 2017

Veteran music journalist Graham Reid would be the first to admit that researching seven decades of New Zealand music is a huge task.

Reid, who is a Professional Teaching Fellow at the School of Music, undertook the job as the content advisor for the Auckland Museum's current exhibition, Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa.

Billed as a musical journey that starts today and winds backwards through the decades until the 1950s, Volume is the first major exhibition showcasing popular music in New Zealand.

Developed by the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame Trust, Reid was approached by Mark Roach to assist early in 2015, and admits, he had to think about it as it was such a big commitment. But the challenge was too tempting to pass up.

"Music has that ability to articulate people's thoughts, fears, ideas, passions, and concerns. We have galleries full of visual art like paintings but very little that celebrates the sound track of our lives," says Reid.

Reid has been connected to the School of Music for over a decade. He currently teaches the popular course Turning Points in Western Music, which is also available as a general education option, allowing students from other degrees to learn more about popular music. The course explores the agents of change in Westernised music, many of which are reflected in the content of the exhibition.  

Graham Reid and several Kiwi musicians share their thoughts on Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa. Video courtesy of Auckland Museum.

The interactive exhibit, which is enjoying rave reviews, is a feast for music lovers with memorabilia including handwritten lyrics, awards, images, costumes, and nearly a hundred objects from the personal collections of some of New Zealand's best-loved artists.

As a content specialist Reid researched and wrote a 30,000 word document ahead of the exhibition. He then asked others involved in the industry to let him know who and what was missing. "Many people contributed content. There were meetings with lots of discussion about who to include. As space is always a constraint, for every band that’s been included as emblematic there are probably thirty other relevant bands," says Reid.

The exhibition which opened in October runs until late May, but Reid hopes eventually our nation finds a permanent space for a museum of New Zealand music. "It deserves a place, just as much as a rugby or cricket museum. Music writes itself into our lives. It brings pleasure to so many people over generations. It is an important part of our autobiography," he says.

Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa
Auckland War Memorial Museum / Tamaki Paenga Hira
Domain, Auckland.
Open 10am-5pm daily until 21 May.
Visit the Auckland Museum website