Music and Solidarity: Questions of Universality, Consciousness, and Connection

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Felicity Laurence, Olivier Urbain
Transaction Publishers, Nov 30, 1999 - Political Science - 224 pages
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The philosopher Christopher Small suggests that musical meanings are concerned with relationships, both with other human beings and with the world, and that music functions as a means of exploration, affirmation, and celebration of those relationships. If members of different social groups have different values, or different concepts of ideal relationships, then the kinds of performances that enact those relationships will differ from one another. Using music to express benevolent intentions is not, in general, one of its most obvious functions. In fact, military music has been used throughout history to destroy cross-cultural communion. Music is also a powerful and ubiquitous tool in propaganda, and in facilitating various political projects in all kinds of inventive ways that have nothing much to do with the pursuit of peaceful and cooperative intercultural understanding, or with helping people address issues of injustice. This text moves far beyond the knowledge of music’s power upon humans, however this may be conceived and explained. It addresses a field of inquiry that is still a tiny endeavor, at least in comparison with all other academic efforts in the world. The sparseness of serious theoretical engagement with the topic of music’s potential role in the area of peace and policy is echoed by how little music is directly used in the “real world” for building a more humane consciousness. Finding ways to that goal is the purpose of this work.

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About the author (1999)

Felicity Laurence is a teacher, composer, and children’s singing specialist with decades of international work within the areas of music education and intercultural understanding. She is currently degree programme director for the MA Music and Education at the International Centre for Music Studies, Newcastle University, UK.

Olivier Urbain is director of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research. His publications include Daisaku Ikeda’s Philosophy of Peace and the editing of Music and Conflict Transformation.  

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