Beyond the Bassline is a map through Black music in Britain.  Transporting experiences give way to absorbing soundscapes, artworks and films produced by artists and collectives across the UK. Archival footage leads into spectacular costumes, interactive displays, and of course, music. And at the conclusion of the exhibition, Tayo Rapoport and Rohan Ayinde present a new multi-screen film installation in collaboration with Touching Bass, a South London-based musical movement and curatorial platform.

Dive into letters from 18th-century composer Ignatius Sancho, glittering props and outfits of glamorous performers, records from the likes of Fela Kuti and Shirley Bassey, nostalgic video archive of grime’s golden era captured on Risky Roadz DVD and the equipment that Jamal Edwards used to start SB.TV, the industry-defining YouTube channel dedicated to Black British Music. Here, alongside over 200 exhibits, they are woven into union as you journey through an ever-evolving and ever-expanding history.

Curated by Dr Aleema Gray in collaboration with Dr Mykaell Riley

Ticket pricing
On the first Wednesday of every month the British Library are running Pay What You Can days where what you pay for entry is up to you (minimum £1). Select your preferred Pay What You Can day, select the required number of tickets for £1 each and add a donation to your overall ticket purchase price.

British Library Members go free with a guest. Select your free tickets and proceed to book, you don’t need to log in. Please bring your Membership card with you when you visit. Find out more about becoming a British Library Member.

Other Concessions are available, please see the ticket options for more details and select the ticket type you require. The British Library also offers discounts for groups of 10+, these will automatically discount once added to your basket.
ICOM, NMDC and other reciprocal free entry scheme organisation cards are accepted for free entry into this exhibition up until Sunday 11 August, there is no need to pre-book, please visit the Library with your card for entry, subject to availability.

Explore our Events. Hear from trailblazers of Black British music at the exhibition’s associated performances, talks and Lates including events with Soul II Soul, Eddy Grant, Joan Armatrading, George the Poet, DJ Paulette, Jamz Supernova and many more.

Beyond the Bassline: 500 Years of Black British Music is a partnership with the Black Music Research Unit, part of the University of Westminster’s Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media