Can Music Still Change The World?A multimedia story of Piranha Arts (WOMEX - the World Music Expo producers) for the re:publica conference
From Chuck Berry and Elvis, to Woodstock and punk rock, to hip hop and techno. Music was bigger than life in the 20th century. A symbol and catalyst of social and political change.
But what about today?
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Can music still change the world?Yes, and here is how...
We believe music can, and does, change the world - still.
We are talking about real and immediate change that matters to more than just a subculture music scene.
Let's give you a few examples from our daily work and the work of our worldwide friends and partners...
Change by Example - Heroines on stage
One way in which music creates change is by musicians setting an example - a symbolic fight against injustice. Let's take women's rights as an example. Hip hop lovers know how Bahamdia or Missy Elliot turned the discourse of that scene around. Now that effect becomes a much bigger thing, when you look into non-western regions with harsher patriarch structures...
"So I call out to all presidents of the planet,
...all the prime ministers, all the ministers of the planet, to support the job that we - musicans - are doing. Cause we are promoting peace!"
Mário Lúcio Sousa, musician and former cultural minister of Cabo Verde islands, at his WOMEX Award acceptance speech (on the picture with Mariza, Portugal)
PR StuntsRaising Awareness
Is it ever a good idea to create a PR stunt? - They key to this photo is that we made it quite spontaneously. The Colombian band Puerto Candelaria decided to devote a good part of their precious 45 minute festival slot (at WOMEX in Spain in October 2016) to make a statement after a peace treaty had just lost a voting. This photo made it into the Colombian and international media and was one of many actions throughout the world, which supported another try. The treaty was finally signed only one month later... and coincidentally, during Circulart- the annual Latin American music meeting held in Colombia - the perfect place to celebrate.
Ok, that's all great.But is change through music only symbolic?
Changing discourses is key today, no doubt, but can you actually do more concrete things with music? Can you create change on a smaller level and when you are less famous?
Sure, you can collect money....A Charity Trap?But then who likes music when it's only made to collect money?
For some, charity organisations on stage or charity concerts represent a downgrade of the music, in music being only the vehicle for collecting money. Do we still need things such as Live Aid today? Would not a Games convention or sports event be the better place today, to collect money and raise awareness...
Our answer to those questions are:Viva Con Agua
Just one example of a number of NGO's who use creativity itself:
"To activate civil society we are making use of art and music as universal languages. We are on the road every day, to show we can change the world to the better and have fun while doing so!"
Have Fun And Change
The fun part is crucial, instead of downplaying music with your call for change, you have to find the spots and events where this actually adds value - with artists and their fans working together on music pieces or other art etc... If you are in event management - identify the spots where change initiatives add value should be your first aim.
GrassrootsIt is only change, if it leaves your bubble
So it is not only music stars and large movements that matter. Amateur musicians and private initiatives can make a change - the most crucial thing that defines ACTUAL change on such a grassroots level, is whether or not you are able to leave your own filter bubble.
Here is a massive example:..
Karneval der Kulturen - The Anti-Bubble
Berlin's million-strong street fest and parade is a shining example in various ways. First of all, it is a best practice example of how to change the discourse outside of your filter bubble. It is a political statement in that it displays how foreign cultures live together in a positive way...
Once you meet a stranger, your prejudices crumble
Some say that Carnival and street events are just a huge party. Well, that is exactly what makes it so powerful:
A celebration of diversity which does not only reach thoughtful and conscious lovers of global music but which is visited and reported on by the entire region. There is no other place in Berlin where party bassheads see a Japanese shrine worshipped, where people who do not get to travel around the world, witness Ghanaian Highlife sounds and vibes, and where reggae music lovers headbang to a heavy metal open stage...
On top of that, the Berlin Karneval is a community project with 70+ groups working all-year-round in their quarters practising dances and performances, organising parties, forming a network in which people often help and support each other.
Going to Places - Spreading It Digitally
Going to Places - Spreading It Digitally
Music is very physical and social. Even while listening, music always relates to a social group, but of course even more evident is going to concerts and festivals.
The physicality of being at a place - and feeling sound waves washing through your body - is an emotional experience that is irresistible.
The digital revolutions however, makes it possible that information and audiovisual documentation of these events spread globally and scenes can form themselves across borders.
Ravi Shankar played with the Beatles, Paul Simon went South African (Graceland album), Tango met Electro. Musical collaborations across borders be they national, genre borders or cultural borders, convey a tangible message of mutual understanding.
It is only through today's digital world however, that those can be heard worldwide.
Here is one of our favourite projects, LusAfro bringing together artists for musical exchanges between lusophone Africa (Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe) & Germany
Read more about LusAfro here
Other People Doing Great Things...
There are many festivals around the globe celebrating the spirit of community, culture and social change. Here are just a few...
Nächte des Ramadan
A Muslim inspired cultural festival curated by Piranha Kultur in Berlin. Bringing people together to exchange thoughts, ideas and experiences from old tradition to contemporary expressions.
Molyvos International Music Festival (MIMF)
A winner of the Classical:NEXT 2017 Innovation Award, the festival takes place on the Greek island of Lesbos and is a unique project bringing together the greatest international talent and the local community, to celebrate world-class classical music
Beginning humbly i 1992, Africa Oye is now the UK's largest free annual celebration of African Music and Culture.
Festival Au Desert
Taking place in the North of Mali, (although currently in exile due to security concerns) brings together musicians from Mali, the continent of Africa and around the globe to celebrate music and art.
The world peace music festival takes place in Calcutta, India over three days creating opportunities for multinational and multicultural exchange.