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13th December 2006 | Draft

Participative Development Process for Singable Declarations

Applying the Wikipedia-Wikimedia-WikiMusic concept to constitutions

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Annex 1 of A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? (2006)


The main paper (A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic?, 2006) develops the arguments for the value of music and song in rendering comprehensible, meaningful and memorable key complex legal texts such as international constitutions, charters, declarations or strategic initiatives. The questions asked are: Why should national legislation not be singable? Why should global strategies, like Agenda 21, not be singable? What is achieved by structuring policy so that its complex interdependencies are memorable only to the few and meaningless to those who depend on its viability?

These arguments emphasize the potential role of music and song not to give expression to texts developed through a legalistic mindset. It also emphasized the use of the harmonic riches of music and song to give form to even more innovative patterns of psychosocial relationships and constraints which it may otherwise be difficult, if not impossible to render meaningful in legalese.

In exploring these possibilities, it is important to distinguish the use of songs "about" institutional change -- whether in protest, in praise of enabling agreements, or in celebration of the values they express -- from their use to "bring about" such a change of pattern, or inhibit it. The challenge is to design a participative process to explore whether the complex harmonies of music can "bring into being" and "give form to" new patterns of cooperative relationship responsive to the challenge of the times. Specifically the concern is not with any form of "backing music" or "vocal backing" in affirmation of declarations but rather with how song or music can engender and sustain innovative patterns of relationship.

One significant possibility for such a process is an open-source musical equivalent to the Wikipedia process through which the parts of a song articulating a declaration or constitution are discussed and formulated for further discussion, but without closure.

Existing proposals

Variants of this possibility have already been proposed as an extension of the Wikipedia encyclopedia process in the MediaWiki environment under the term WikiMusic. Some clarifications:

Although these indicate current recent interest in the possibility in 2006, it is unclear at what rate this project might take form.

Constraints may be imposed to prevent abuse. Relevant to this approach is the Musipedia: the open music encyclopedia [more] where some involved have discussed a WikiMusic concept [more]

Specifics of a declaration variant

The proposal for a declaration variant could have distinctive features, essential in some cases to the value of the initiative. In no particular order, the ability to:

Here the concept is of an evolving song (or songs) in which work is constantly being done as a collaborative effort on the parts and their relationship to each other -- allowing a song to be sung at any time as a "work in progress". This approach could suggest a new interpretation of "com-position". It could also be related to the possibility of widespread downloading of current versions or segments as MP3 files.

Such a variant of any WikiMusic initiative might perhaps be termed WikiMuse, in recognition of the traditional role of the Muses in remembering the law.

The WikiMuse resource would have particular advantages:

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