The goal of this article is to share five crucial ways of thinking about the most effective ways to apply music in peacebuilding activities. It is based on the presentation I gave for the online summit on Music, Business and Peace on May 12, 2017, on work done since then, and on elements of an exhibition on Music and Human Rights held by our institute (MOMRI) in Tokyo during the first half of 2018.

I present five basic ideas for exploring music in peacebuilding: 1. Ambivalence: music can be used for destructive purposes such as killing and torturing, as well as for constructive aims such as healing and reconciliation.  2. Musicking: music can be considered as action, what we do to ourselves and each other through musical activities. 3. Booster: it may be safer to consider that music can act as a booster to a range of activities, rather than believing that music has some intrinsic power by itself. 4. Non-Universality: people’s concrete experience of musicking practices can be very different from each other, and even totally incompatible.  5. Repetition: it is only by repeating positive musicking experiences that participants will be able to change their behavior, for instance a shift towards a more collaborative mindset. The complex issues emerging when trying to link music and peace can also affect research and activities linking business and peace. Keeping this in mind throughout the article, I present a series of questions for my colleagues in the business and peace field, in the concluding section.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 07/04/2020

Olivier Urbain

Olivier Urbain, Ph.D: director of the Min-On Music Research Institute (MOMRI), investigating the application of music in peacebuilding activities. Publications: Music and Conflict Transformation (2008/2015); “A statement of values for our research on music in peacebuilding” (2016). Member of the board of the International Peace Research Association Foundation (IPRAF); Visiting Research Professor at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). 

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