Legacy and global sustainability: A creative multidisciplinary approach

Presented at the 44th International Council for Traditional Music World Conference, Limerick (Ireland), 13-19 July 2017.


Among the increasing flow of culture, technology, and people that characterise the current globalisation process, scholars identified perceptions of “out-of-control” intercultural musical practice and transient musical identities “in constant fission and fusion” (Stokes, Feld). In this respect, questions surrounding the creation of legacies have become crucial for endangered cultures.

But how can we facilitate the creation of a legacy of such cultures to the world’s heritage and its access to a form of universality while, following Molino, keeping the ability of music to transmit from one culture to another and to gain a new meaning through cross-fertilisation and, following Stokes, maintaining its musical intelligibility?

In order to navigate the narrow space between the anxious dismissal of hybridisation and the fraternal glorification of the intercultural (Aubert 2007), the approach proposed in this paper follows Hereniko’s dictum (2012), for whom “imagination is just as important as knowledge.”

In the latest conceptions of sustainability heritage is a central thread, as an issue of creation (Auclair and Fairclough 2015). Relying on a broad conception of sustainability, I introduce a practice-based research model applied to ethnomusicology that enact a form of proactive musical cosmopolitanism, in allowing a given musical heritage to be channelled into a global intangible cultural repository.

Taking the Tahitian musical landscape as a case study, this innovative “multi-mode research inquiry” combines ethnography, ethnomusicology, and creative work. It produces a combination of creative and traditional academic outputs, including a new form of fictive representation, legacy to the world’s cultures, which aims to contribute to global musical diversity and increase global awareness of Tahitian musical culture.

Ultimately, the research reconsiders the balance between the ethical, creative, and academic roles of the researcher in contributing towards thinking of music as a process in the making of “worlds” and building a sustainable cultural future.

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