An innovative community music project is being trialed in Hull’s Dukeries.
The project involves a small core group of experienced singers, brought together to make The Human Dukebox.  The singers form the backbone of the project, aiming to draw together further participants from the neighbourhood. They have a repertoire of popular songs which they’ll be singing on doorsteps…
The Human Dukebox is the brainchild of Clare Drury, a freelance artist working with musician and fellow choir leader Ben Newton to bring the project to life. It’s supported with funding from ourselves and revolves around music and singing to build community.
As a starting point, colourful origami-style invitations have been delivered to residents in the area, inviting them to start the conversation and informing them The Human Dukebox will be calling on them in May and June to sing on their doorsteps and gather ideas for further project development.
It’s well known that singing can bring communities together, and as a starting point residents are asked to have a conversation with people they know in the neighbourhood about musical likes. Residents are also asked to:
  • Consider nominating a song for the group to learn in the future,
  • Nominate a person to be sung to,
  • Listen to the sounds on the street and think about what sounds represent their neighbourhood
  • And in the longer term, if there’s sufficient interest, to join in with a Dukeries-based community singing group called ‘The Duke Box’.
Part of the project will also create a piece of music that represents the Dukeries, and residents are being asked to consider what sounds they associate with their streets, which will feed into this music. It’s hoped that a community singing group will grow from the project called ‘The Duke Box’.
Clare Drury, lead artist, explains:
“Because of the unusual nature of the project, calling from door to door, we wanted to raise awareness in advance.
“We hope our origami invitations will capture the interest of the community, as well as warning them what to expect and asking people for their musical likes. We’ve also given people the option if they don’t want to be given a song, to put our invitation in their window so we know not to call and sing.
“We hope that most people will enjoy a song from the Human Dukebox when we come to call, and we’re also looking forward to finding out what different types of music people like and would like to hear performed in the future.”
Why the Dukeries?
Of course, we’d like to do this for every street of the city, but it’s just not feasible –  we had to choose somewhere to start!  For our pilot, we wanted a culturally diverse area with lots of people living in close proximity, which is what the Dukeries can provide.
Response so far…
We’ve received a warm welcome from most people we’ve spoken to so far. We already have some requests from our conversations delivering invitations. We hoped to get a diverse range of music, and so far people have mentioned ELO, Classical Music, U2 and even Anthrax; some may be challenging to fulfill, but it’s interesting to hear what people like. We’re hoping to have some culturally diverse requests to represent the whole community.
If you live in the Dukeries, and haven’t received an invitation, you’re still invited to take part. The group will be calling on the afternoons of 26 and 27 May and evening of 2 June, with a chance to catch the group at the Off the Road Live Lounge on Princes Ave, 5:30-6:30pm on Wednesday 12 June before further doorstep performances.
Residents can request further information via email – – or find the Human Dukebox on Facebook –