Sound Forum: Crossing The Divides

Thoughts about possible developments on Sound Forum and the potential of increasing and deepening worldwide awareness of the rich spectrum of human activity in Sound.  


Please note that I have CAPITALISED some words.  This is only for emphasis so that you can see more easily some of the issues I am raising.


Sound Forum was first envisioned to be both an UNBIASED PLATFORM and a RELIABLE COMMUNICATION PROCESS for Sound-related activity.  In its implementation, it was designed to be non-partisan, broad, flexible, consistent and resilient. Its primary focus is “Sound and its Transformative Powers” and supports the groups which use sound in this way, either directly or indirectly.  The groups it supports include (but not exclusively) Sound Healers, Sound Therapists, Music Therapists, Cymatics Practitioners, Nada Yogis, Free Improvisers, Gong Practitioners, and Voicework Specialists. There are also no easy boundaries around these activities and so outside these core activities there might be perceived a blurred boundary with composers, musicians, music psychologists, sound artists, sound & music technologists and even neuro-scientists.  


Sound Forum is not therefore exclusively one Sound modality nor is it limited by artificial intellectual boudaries.  Maintaining breadth in Sound modalities provides opportunities for cross-fertilisation and communication to many more potential listeners than to a single interest group.


Sound Forum has developed so quickly because of the emergence of Social Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Social Networking is however still in development and as such Sound Forum is, along with everyone else, still finding its way in this medium.  We don’t know what’s going to work and what isn’t. All that can be said is that humans naturally connect and these digital facilities are vastly increasing our ability to do this.  So we are following the trend and trying to guess its direction.


So Social Networking is not going to go away. HOW it will continue to shape itself over the coming years is the key question.   My view is that, just as in music free improvisation, ideas will form and shape themselves from the background noise and emerge to take on a life of their own.  Sound Forum is a case in point.  The way Sound Forum was structured from its inception continues to allow the support of emergent ideas in Sound. 


So what are the possible ways forwards?


CROSSING APPARENT DIVIDES: 


Julian Treasure in a recent article "Sound Workers Unite!" says:


"I believe there are great gains available if musicians, composers, sound designers, sound and music therapists, sonic artists, musicologists, music psychologists, aural ecologists, audio branding practitioners, audiologists, ENT specialists, acousticians, sound engineers, pro-AV and h-fi specialists and installers all start to communicate. Without doubt, there is deep wisdom and experience locked into all of these groups..."


I do agree with him that these disparate groups are not yet cross-fertilising as productively as they might.  On the face of it, in current developments in Music, Sound and Audio Technology there would appear to be distinct silos.  However I am so aware of the many 'players' in both worlds who keep on crossing over, back and forth so-to-speak (including myself) and ask is it wise to continue to maintain some of the rigidity within the 'arts'/'healing'/'tecchie' domains.  The Sound Forum has a natural and easy to manage inclusivity.  I want to continue this inclusivity within Sound Forum as I am of the opinion that there is enormous value in promoting conversations between the disciplines.  So let's be prepared to blur the boundaries.


As a parallel to this and quite separately, in my own work as both a business coach and musician I have most of my life operated in what seems to be 2 different worlds.  Indeed I have often had it made clear to me that one medium excludes the other at least in all practical terms. However since my involvement with group free improvisation through Rod Paton I have begun a road which appears to be joining the two together.  I have discussed the subject with Rod many times over the last few years.  


My book on group free improvisation is still a while away from publication but in focussing on both the musical and non-musical varieties of improvisation you can see that there is something which fascinates me about crossing big divides.


I hope you will humour me for a little while longer.


SOCIAL NETWORKING:


You have to realise: COMMUNICATION NOW GOES BOTH WAYS and ALL WAYS


Social Networking is allowing TWO-WAY & MULTI-WAY conversations to take place. More than this it creates the possibility of INTERLINKING groups with different purposes.  Very large Facebook groups like Sound Forum is fast becoming are probably not going to work for DISCUSSIONS because it is simply too large.   Smaller groups based around more closely defined disciplines are better DISCUSSION FORUMS.   The problem with small groups is just that; they are VERY SMALL.  Group leaders ask questions, put forward ideas etc but then NOTHING HAPPENS.  With Sound Forum Facebook group being LARGE it would be good if it were REGULARLY UPDATED about the discussions going on elsewhere.  More people could then enter these discussions.  Discussions don’t need to start in Sound Forum but all its members will want to know about all the other streams of discussion going on out there.  Might I suggest that we might see more input from the many smaller discussion groups as and when they appear. SOUND FORUM might be seen as a COMMON SPINE around which are MULTITUDINEOUS links to and from and around other SIGNIFICANT conversations.


REGULATION: 


Despite the fact that there is much activity going on across the world of Sound, Soundwork as such can still be regarded as if it were still in its infancy. There are a huge number of individuals and small organisations working with Sound and its powers to transform and there many millions across the world becoming aware of a need to re-establish their spiritual/psychological relationship with Sound. Where to go to find information about Sound’s capabilities is, for many, a difficult question to answer. Who are the experts?  Who can you place your confidence in?  Where is the grounded research?


For certain Sound modalities, there is a concern that if they don’t move forwards with SELF-REGULATION then governments will eventually step in.  Organisations that I am already aware of in the UK and the USA are trying to address these concerns but are not necessarily finding it easy to make progress.  It may be that Sound Forum could assist in helping to make headway in these areas.  With self-regulation the big danger is CREATING DIVISION.  Sound Forum has the potential as a PLATFORM and CONDUIT to enable the widest body of opinion to cohere. 


In connection with the question of regulation, most people would agree that certain Sound Modalities need to be more visibly seen to be adopting PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS as practitioners and as training providers.  I am quite certain that we all act with good intention but the reason for the need for REGULATION arises because there is a PERCEPTION BY OTHERS that we might not always be acting to proper standards.  In the coming months, if you are so-minded, I think emphasis could be placed on ARTICLES about PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS and their value.  In my newsletters I would gladly write editorial so long as sound practitioners are willing to submit material on the subject.


 


Beyond these thoughts, what other issues should be appearing next year in Sound Forum?  Please do take the trouble to offer your ideas as I am only too happy to help encourage productive discussion.

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