Listen for Life

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Travels with Music

Donna Stoering

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Frequently Asked Questions

Listen for the Life all around you!

Why do you need to Listen for Life?

Because you need music!  And music needs help!Image

Globalization of media is causing the homogenization of cultures, and only one principal genre of music (commercial pop from Britain, Western Europe, and America mostly) is able to afford distribution in the global media. Consequently, many genres and cultures of music throughout the world are now threatened with extinction.

Why does it matter?  Isn't there still plenty of music?

It matters because it is important to retain the connection between music and the culture it springs from.  The music is an expression of that culture, and preserving the music is preserving the culture itself. And it matters because music truly is the channel of cross-cultural communication!  When we hear a musician perform, we are not just hearing that one musician.  We hear their past, their traditions, their beliefs, their feelings, and their hopes for the future, both individually and as part of a whole community.

Music is a unique language that speaks from heart to heart, wordlessly. In many countries today music is the  primary expression of people's lives, whether they are musicians or not. But that expression is being lost in the global marketplace, and around the world, music traditions are dying at an astonishing rate The music culture of a people is its greatest natural resource! So all natural resources of a country are diminished if we don't support and encourage people's  pride in their native music, as well as give them the opportunity to share that music with the global community that wants to "speak their language." Sociologists tell us that culture is biological. It is a combination of learned behaviors, survival  techniques, and adaptations to new circumstances, and for all cultures to survive at their healthiest, there should be more diversity rather than less. When we diminish the number of cultures by giving prominence to a few, all of them stop growing!

Why are musical cultures especially threatened now?

For centuries, native instruments and songs have been passed down from generation to generation through music-masters in each ethnic group or village. The position of master musician has traditionally been held in great esteem, as an embodiment of the culture, and those who follow in the footsteps of the master felt a sense of importance.  The people themselves felt pride in the specialness of their music traditions. Now, because of the worldwide distribution of popular media, there are more and more traditional instruments that no one knows how to play. Folk songs or traditional melodies, which were passed on by rote and not normally written down, have been lost. These things are happening because the young people, who normally would have been "sitting at the feet of the master" and learning the treasured skills and traditional instruments of their people, no longer take any interest or pride in that activity, because the music that the global media chooses most often to broadcast does not spring from their culture. This leads the young people to conclude that their native music and culture is not of value. The master musicians themselves conclude that the art they have devoted their lives to is no longer of interest to their own countrymen, nor to the world at large, and in discouragement, they are abandoning their instruments and their roles as "cultural historians."

What can we do about this problem?Image

Wouldn't it be great if the citizens of each country could feel as much pride in their music heritage as they do of their military or political history or of their economic power?

But for that to happen, all people must first be encouraged to truly appreciate the gift of music itself, for its potential as a channel of communication, spirituality, heart and understanding. Also, the global media needs to embrace its responsibility to enable the sharing and appreciation of all music genres.

And all people must be encouraged to come together as one family of music listeners, creators and performers to combine their voices, instruments, styles, and languages in a worldwide soundtrack of life.

Let's all keep all styles, genres and cultures of music alive for future generations!