Research

George Lewis’ 8 Steps to New Music Decolonization

Adapted from his presentation at the Curating Diversity in Europe: Decolonizing Contemporary Music symposium presented by Sounds Now, Akademie der Künste, inm-berlin and Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival

From Van Outernational #12:

I feel that we already know what colonialism sounds like. We hear it at all too many contemporary music festivals around the world, as they participate in the continuous recirculation of the stereotype of exclusive whiteness around classical music’s self-image. But the composers and improvisers are not the ones producing the sounds of colonialism. Rather, it is the music curators and institutions who have been composing and improvising colonialism. 

So what we would like these people to do is to help audiences discover what decolonization sounds like. How can we counter the impoverishment and devolution of the field that has resulted from the consistent absences of the same ethnic, racial, and gendered voices from stages, media, music histories, and professional networks? How could music curators could start composing and improvising decolonization? What would a decolonized curatorial regime sound like? 

What I ultimately expect is that, like colonialism, we will be able to hear decolonization in the everyday life of sounds heard at festivals large and small. For the rest of this short essay, I’d like to propose eight “steps” that we can take toward achieving this end.

Read the full article here.

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