Listening to a World in Crisis: Composing for Social Change (A Presentation for the Canadian Association of Sound Ecology)

The world we live in poses multiple crises of displacement due to climate change, the pandemic, war, repressive political regimes, and unemployment. The question that artists, researchers, and all kinds of thinkers need to ask is how our academic disciplines of training responding to this growing crisis of homelessness and other forms of displacement around us; how is our work shedding visibility on the displaced and invoking a policy-level response from the government to mitigate this crisis and inspire a compassionate response from the society?
        In October 2022, the CASE Vice Chair Carol Ann Weaver initiated an essential thread in WFAE listserv about the critique of government policy for using unpleasant sounds to drive away homeless from the middle-class and elite spaces in town and the need for a compassionate response from the government to address their displacement.  In response to this thread, I brought forward an experience of sharing an incident in the Deep Listening retreat regarding the need to deeply listen to homelessness around us to become more compassionate city dwellers. This point was cast aside and the discussion was redirected. Why? Why does talking about homelessness around us uncomfortable for intellectuals?
        In this open talk and discussion, I would bring forward my experience of displacement since the pandemic began in 2020 and the levels at which engagement with field recording and deep listening practices initiated by the World Soundscape Project in the 1970s inspired a space that allowed me to go beyond ethnomusicological endeavours in expressing issues of displacement with acousmatic compositions and blogs. Through showing the trajectory of my recent acousmatic pieces and writings, I will propose an open discussion about a need for a dialogue between Ethnomusicologists, practitioners of the Arts for Social Change (ASC), and Sound Ecologists to press the Canadian government and the world’s governments for a more compassionate response towards the displaced.

Leave a comment