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ASSEMBLIES
OF LISTENINGS
AND VOICES
ACROSS THE
SOUTH
gathering at
About
SOUNDINGS is a 5-day gathering at Akademie der Künste Berlin on 21 – 25 August 2022.
The assembly will nurture conversations and scholarly encounters addressing the dearth of critical engagement with artists and thinkers working outside of hegemonic Eurocentric fields. By attending to the scant presence of the Global South, diasporic, and indigenous artworks, and scholarship in Eurological academia and curating impacting music and sound in the arts, the gathering will focus on practices, aesthetic histories and methodologies of artists and thinkers discursively grounded within the Global South.

This assembly is intended to be a seminal meeting in which the voices of artists, makers, critical theorists, and aesthetic practitioners may enter into mutual dialogue and listening without the need to understand themselves through the assumptions, predilections, and set listening positions of Western concepts and practices. Soundings is intended to be a meeting dedicated primarily to the dialogues between the epistemologies of what we term the “Sonic Global South” – and to critically analyze the aesthetic and discursive hegemonies, institutional biases and parochial canons in medial, sonic and musical discourses and practices. This public assembly will avoid the conventional Western conference formats of a succession of 20-minute lectures and Q/A, leavened by panels, to instead generate care and knowledge from the ground up. Over 5 days of spirited gathering, we will creatively and discursively explore different modes of listening and knowledge-transfer to reflect on different models of encounter through sound and music. Allowing for such variable modes of encounter is central to the decolonial and de-hegemonizing impulse of this gathering.
Participants
Budhaditya Chattopadhyay

Panchayat
Short description:
An assembly in which members of a village community discuss issues together to find
consensus and settle disputes between individuals and the community.

Longer description:
Panchayat is a Hindi/Bengali word that means village council. The prefix Panch
means five or many, and Ayat means assembly – joining them together suggests a
gathering of all, irrespective of class, creed, color, religion, or caste. Traditionally, a
Panchayat in South Asia consists of gathering at the chawl or village center, to
discuss pertinent issues in the village and local community, led and moderated by
the elderly and wise by the local community. Generally, the elder-most or most
senior, experienced, and knowledgeable persons are elected to moderate and
provide keynotes on issues, while listening to divergent views and positions with
patience and care to reach understanding and mobilize collective action.

Melā
Short description:
A gathering held to celebrate a festival, market, religious event, often accompanied
by music, dance, theater and other cultural activities.

Longer description:
Melā is a Sanskrit/Hindi/Bengali word that refers to a festival or fair in South Asia. It
is a celebratory gathering for all members of a community, village or a locality, to
meet and experience joyful events as a mode of celebration of a social, commercial,
cultural or sport-related occasion. Talking, singing, dancing, eating, drinking, and
making merry in smaller or larger groups are all part of a Melā. Traditionally, Melās
are organized by village councils or local governments during auspicious and
religious occasions, and serve as gatherings for fun and games, cultural
performances and a marketplace where local products are traded.

Thanh
Thanh is a Vietnamese word that, when read without context, could imply several
meanings such as sound and tone. In Vietnamese, it is used to describe something
that is long thin/light/transparent/clear/young/tranquil.

Thảo luận
Thảo luận is a Vietnamese word meaning to discuss issues with an emphasis on
analyzing arguments.

Hội Họp
Hội Họp is a Vietnamese word that refers to a social gathering. It combines two
single words: Hội (which means festival; group) and Họp (meaning meeting to
discuss something).

Meşk
Short description:
A method of transferring knowledge within the master-apprentice relationship in
traditional Turkish music.

Longer description:
It is a method of transferring/teaching music within the master-apprentice
relationship in traditional Turkish music-the transmission of Turkish music from
generation to generation through Meşk from tradition to the present. Meşk has
been used since the 16th century. In the Meşk method, the masters must teach their
apprentices what they know. This is essential for the method to reproduce itself. In
Meşk, a piece is played/sung by being divided into parts and taught to the
student/apprentice by a repetition-imitation method. Before the 18th century,
music notes were not used in Meşk. With the westernization movements, the Meşk
was initially applied with the note, and then the note was deactivated after the piece
was memorized. The apprentice and the master come face to face and learn all the
work features such as attitude, technique and style from the master.

Memory and musical ear represent essential elements of the Meşk method. In the
Meşk method, the number of memorized compositions is used as a criterion that
reveals the value and level of an artist. With the Meşk method, the student does not
learn only the theory of music or an instrument or a technique or the style,
performance or interpretation of their master. The student understands the work
itself, that is, the existing musical repertoire and repertoire; thus, the repertoire of
the period is transferred to the next generations through Meşk.

In the Meşk method, one of the masters is not considered superior to the other.
These masters do this without expecting anything in return (without any
material/money expectation) and lovingly. In the master-apprentice relationship, the
respect, loyalty and submission showed to the master turn into practical exercises
that teach the student to be humble by breaking the artist’s ego. In the master-
apprentice relationship, the apprentice cooks themselves and beautifies morals by
taking the morals and behaviors of the master as an example. Meşk carries specific
moral values and a musical technique or repertoire. We can only get the natural
feeling of Turkish music by listening, practicing and memorizing pieces.

Yelab
Short description:
A lament in which women go from crying to singing.

Longer description:
The Kaluli of Papua New Guinea have no common word for music. They speak of
yelab and gisalo. Yelab is a lament in which women go from crying to singing,
becoming “like a bird”.

Gisalo
Short description:
Describes a physical form of singing and dancing.

Longer description:
Gisalo describes a physical form of singing and dancing. During the nightly séances,
men feel like birds, adorning themselves with feathers and celebrating in front of
other men. Steven Feld has researched and written about this.

Sabor
Short description:
– To collect, to assemble (събор, from Sabiram)

Longer description:
In Bulgaria, larger gatherings are designated under the term Sabor. Each village has
its own Sabor. This is usually a religious celebration, celebrated every year, where
people meet, and many emigrants come back home to their villages. The whole

family gathers together and people usually talk, sing, and dance on the village
square. To this very day, Sabori still exists. However, in the modern context, Sabor is
translated as “festival” or “event”. There are also regional and national Sabori, for
example for folk art (folklore), which attract many visitors. Professional experts also
meet there as a jury of musical performances and their authenticity. The encounters
and musical events that take place next to the stages are also of great importance
for the experience of the Sabor.

There are also other nice terms for meetings in the Bulgarian tradition: Sedjanka,
from sedja = to sit; Poprelka (in the Rhodope Mountains) or medzija: This is how the
gatherings in which people are invited to come inside the house are called. The
women and girls work on their individual handicrafts, or help the hostess with the
tasks while talking, singing and dancing. Young men are invited to the entertainment
with the main purpose of finding a bride, all under the supervision of at least one
elder woman. The men meet in pubs, “na muchabet” – to talk. And, of course, there
is also a lot of singing. There are many folk songs specific for the occasion of na
muchabet
.

Ngoma
Shorter description:
A tradition of expression through forms such as music, drumming, dance and
storytelling.

Longer description:
The concept of Ngoma is found in Eastern and Southern Africa and refers to the
tradition of expression through forms such as music, drumming, dance and
storytelling. For the Venda is a large, single-headed drum used particularly in certain
religious ceremonies. It can also be an active space where history, values, education,
and identity are transmitted intergenerationally.

Global South
The term “Global South” is quite a recent formation (1970s) and is largely a Western
construction while responding to the emerging post-colonial conditions such as the
non-alignment movements across South Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America –
regions outside the West sharing a fraught colonial history and decolonial struggle.
The term Global South was thought to be a better term in relation to the other
condescending terms used earlier, such as “Third World”.

Eurological
“Eurological” is a provocative term first used by Afro-American composer George
Lewis. In his article “Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological
Perspectives” he elaborated on what he meant with this term: music theorized as
emanating almost exclusively from a generally venerated stream of European
cultural, social, and intellectual history. In other words, the music and sonic practices
in the “Western tradition”, that hegemonize the field and take a condescending
position towards Afro-American (and other non-Western) music/sonic traditions.
The term “Eurological” helps to argue against the universalising of a provincial
European system without giving equitable attention to the other systems in the field.
With this term, the epistemologies of music and sonic practices open up to recognise
the plurivocality or multiplicity of voices, only one of which is Eurological.

Initiated by:

Budhaditya Chattopadhyay
Sandeep Bhagwati

Steering committee:

Glaucia Perez da Silva
Deniza Popova
Bhavisha Panchia
Nguyen Thanh Thuy
Oladele Ayorinde
Murat Gürel
Sandipan Nath
Budhaditya Chattopadhyay
Sandeep Bhagwati

Co-produced by:

Sound Across, Den Haag

Supported by:
Gathering

Akademie der Künste
Hanseatenweg 10
10557 Berlin-Tiergarten
Tel. 030 200 57-2000


Organizers

Sound Across
Linnaeusstraat 171, Den Haag
2522GJ Netherlands
Tel. +31686414498

e-mail

soundacrossproject@gmail.com

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