12th Rhodes Forum, September 27, 2014
The workshop brought together practitioners and thinkers from the principal areas of global development in music and technology. The participants agreed that the organizers had done an extraordinary job in identifying key trends and areas, and that this meeting was - to the knowledge of those present - the first time that creative, social, philosophical, human well-being and environmental concerns had been brought together in such a well-focused way.
The participants congratulate the world Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” on its vision and imagination and understanding that music and the creative industry have a major role to play in the future of the society – in communication, understanding, health and – as the fasters growing sector of the world economy – to economic growth.
Everyone agreed that the meeting had been revelatory and potentially paradigm shifting, and that a major significant change was within the grasp of those assembled and the worlds they represented. First of all it was noted that music is not led by technology, rather that music and art have led technological development: from the earliest musical instruments of 45,000 years ago - the first
sophisticated expressions of technology in human history - to the leading role of music in the evolution of computer science and the digital media in the contemporary world.
The implications of this development are manifold. In the practice of music making, technological advance has brought massive, unprecedented creative opportunity - not only for “professional” musicians, but for everyone who wishes to engage. New musical technology - in particular in its capacity to offer the opportunity to generate, sample and transform creative material - is a powerful
tool for the universal democratization of creative musical life. The panel noted that this development carries with it responsibilities: to take care of the integrity and authenticity of creative processes, to respect and value the existential qualities of art, and to pursue in an ethical way the politically and socially transformational opportunities the development has to offer.
There are also responsibilities to take care of the means of distribution, and to ensure that the quality of music and sound is mindfully expanded and improved in the evolving systems of media and communication: that real choice and cultural and inter-cultural variety are cultivated.
There was a strong and important emphasis on increasing the appreciation, study and preservation of natural soundscapes – those sounds produced by earth. Just as there are endangered species, there are threatened natural soundscapes on this planet. It is essential that these sound phenomena are recorded and documented in order to preserve earth aural heritage for future generations. It is important also to maintain the critical documentation of soundscapes within which most people live - including in particular urban environments.
The workshop also focused on ways in which the new musical technologies can support human therapeutic and developmental processes, and how the same technologies may bring people in very different parts of the world together in shared creative processes.
The workshop concluded that music technologies may not be able to stop wars, but may help to create the conditions in which conflict is avoided - through improved communication, shared experience, empathy, the promotion of human well-being and the connection of society to nature.