In November 2021 NMC launched The Big Lockdown Music Survey, an Arts Council England National Lottery Funded project which invited music creators from across England to submit recordings of music they had made during the first national Covid-19 lockdown that was introduced in England on 23 March 2020. More than 200 music creators of all ages and levels of experience responded to this open-call by submitting recordings of every genre of music, alongside data and personal testimony about their creative experiences of lockdown, forming a rich snapshot of this once-in-a generation experience shared by the nation.
NMC then worked with six regional Gateway Partner organisations comprised of cultural and music centres from across England to select the submissions that they felt should go on to represent their region. With the help of the data partner for the project, the Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music (PRISM) based at the Royal Northern College of Music, the 71 selected tracks were plotted on to an interactive listening map on NMC’s website. The map can be explored through filters including mood, genre, weather, and location, creating an interactive portrait of how lockdown affected music creators across the country.
Three years on from that first national lockdown, NMC curated a 12-track album, which represents the hugely diverse range of music that was submitted to The Big Lockdown Music Survey. In These Exceptional Times is an account of exceptional personal circumstances, of creativity, technical innovation, and resilience.