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
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
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.
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:
- Wikipedia: This is a multilingual, Web-based
free content encyclopedia project. Since its creation in 2001, it
has rapidly grown into the largest reference Web site on the Internet. The
content of Wikipedia is free, and is written collaboratively by people from
all around the world. This Web site is a wiki, which means that anyone with
access to an Internet-connected computer can edit, correct, or improve information
throughout the encyclopedia, simply by clicking the edit this page link (with
a few minor exceptions, such as protected articles and the main page). Variants
exist in a number of languages.
- Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is the parent organization of the Wikipedia,
Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks (including Wikijunior), Wikisource, Wikimedia
Commons, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity, and Meta-Wiki collaborative
projects. It is a not-for-profit corporation based in St. Petersburg, Florida,
USA, and organized under the laws of the state of Florida.
- MediaWiki is a wiki software package licensed under the GNU General
Public License. It is written in PHP and uses either the MySQL or PostgreSQL
relational database management system. It was developed
to serve the needs of Wikipedia, a free wiki-based encyclopedia, but it has
since become one of the most popular general wiki solutions. It is
used by all projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, all wikis hosted by Wikia,
and is freely used by many other third-party popular and large wikis. It
has also been deployed by companies as an internal knowledge management solution,
and as a content management system.
- WikiMusic: In principle, open content applies to all kinds
of materials, not just words -- although most
is indeed text-based. The basic problem is coming up with a framework that
allows collaboration with other kinds of media. Various preliminary proposals
have been made for the use of this process and software for music and song.
II (11 January 2006) As a WikiMedia project,
is has been proposed to create a wiki with: both score and text
of a free piece of music, the music itself in a playable music file
(in different versions, for example one version with trumpet, one
with a whole orchestra, not MIDI), the sheet music in a wiki-text
format, and information about the piece of music. The intention would
be to make it user-friendly and not restricted to experts.
- WikiMusic (as proposed by Glen
Moody, 16 September 2006): The idea
here is collaborative asynchronous recording of music, wherein you record
your parts to a music editing software file, then upload it for others
to add to. Each version of the file can be left online, so that people
can revert back to older versions.
This concept has been further discussed in relation to social synergy
For earlier discussions, see effeietsanders-list
- WikiMusic (as discussed by various contributors on ComunityWiki): An
open source multi-track music digital audio workstation program could
be utilized, such as Ardour.
All revisions could be saved, and a song could branch off into several
directions, or it could maintain the same direction, or do both simultaneously.
Furthermore, members of the community can convert each file to a file
useable by many different digital audio workstation programs (like Sonar,
Pro Tools, Cool Edit, etc). Also, participants could add music tracks,
or mix and/or master files. So, one song could have the possibility of
becoming many different different end products.
- Other projects using the term WikiMusic:
- WikiMusicGuide: The music fan site that anyone can edit. If you have
a passion for music, then you've come to the right place.
A new open content encyclopedia initiative in Spanish on everything
concerning music and musical instruments
A German language open content for music criticism and news
- WikiSong: A prototype has been developed as a web-aided form of
group lyrical improvement. The term describes not a style
of song but a mechanism creation. WikiSong may involve solo or group singing,
professional or untrained musicians, and music from any number of genres.
Typically, the lyrics are not finalized (in some cases not written at all)
at the time the song begins, but as performers are performing, others are
working on lyrics yet to be sung.
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:
- hold in page-segmented format any legal or declarative
text which is the stimulus for a particular declaration initiative. This would
enable such text to be used in modified form for lyrics without losing direct
links to the specific portions of the text which the lyrics are endeavouring
to render comprehensible
- cluster or segment content (lyrical and/or musical)
where there is a requirement either to make it:
- specific to a particular declaration or
- valuable for generic
use in a variety of declarations
- experiment with alternative instrumentalisations or musical
- allow singers to contribute (voluntarily) their own voice renderings
- associate video content with lyrics and voice renderings
- have alternative lyrical formulations (possibly with associated
with alternative musical formulations) for the same declaration theme ("article"
- in one language (say English), reflective of the experimental nature
and stylistic preferences of creative contributors
- in one or more alternative languages (say languages
of the EU), reflective of cultural preferences. Namely the possibility
of using different "voices"
or leitmotivs to reflect perspectives of national or cultural
groups, notably minorities. This would be especially interesting in order
to reflect international minorities not associated with
national boundaries or conventional languages. For example, how might
any or all of the following be appropriately reflected in musical/lyrical
form in a comprehensive declaration: youth, elderly, gypsies, gays, fundamentalists,libertarians,
- allow a sequence of selected "pages" to be played
(with or without lyrics) to encompass the declaration in its entirety. Namely
use of a meta-page to cluster the sequence of selected pages that
represent one preferred rendering. There might be many such meta-pages according
to alternative compositional preferences.
- use a Google-type algorithm to rank highest the most
selected meta-pages for a particular declaration
- distinguish lyrical content which goes (creatively or abusively)
beyond the legal formulation in some way:
- facility to handle
proposals to additional constitutional amendments, namely the challenge
of an "Article 31" of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights in
the light of musical innovation
- facility for holding and developing proposals for "alternative treaties"
(cf The NGO Alternative
Treaties, Global Forum, Rio de Janeiro,
- facility for the parallel possibilities of a Universal
Declaration of the Rights of Human Organization
- selectively restrict or lock development of particular
pages, especially in the case of a meta-page that has achieved a certain
degree of consensus
- benefit from the learning of open software projects in collaborative
work on very specific "routines" (algorithms) in order
to improve the performance of the whole. How can improvement of lyrics or
melodic sequences be handled in a mode where reliance is placed
on musical skills to work collaboratively -- as in face-to-face improvisation
- identify, document and highlight compositional devices appropriate
to musical or lyrical rendering of features typical of declarations, namely
different thematic variants of: human values, social problems, strategic
initiatives, etc. This would provide an environment within which to build
up a vast repertoire of musical/lyrical content of value in giving (potentially
highly innovative) form to collective initiatives, bring them into being,
and sustaining their coherence thereafter
- benefit from insights into conventional use of backing
music or vocal backing in relation to lyrics through which a declaration could be presented.
This focus could extend to the challenge of access to such resources and
the manner in which they are made available over the web. Clearly copyright
issues also need to be considered in connection with any open content project
- benefit from insights into conventional use of sound
sampling in creative music composition and how this might relate to individual "pages" in WikiMuse.
This focus could also extend to the challenge of access to such
resources and the manner in which they are made available over the web. Again
copyright issues also need to be considered in connection with any
open content project
- allow selection or designing of theme music by social
initiatives (as meta-pages), with or without
song, for purposes other than declarations, such as: conference theme,
website theme, organization theme, strategic theme, etc. This would enable
groups to distinguish their web pages and initiatives by the lyrical and
musical accompaniment. This could notably be of value for the visually
challenged and the functionally illiterate
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:
- evoking involvement by the musically creative with their special communication
- evoking popular interest in the content of lyrics and their adequacy to
the challenges and opportunities, notably making such facilities available
- providing an interface between those with politico-legal priorities, those
with communication skills, and those whose active interest and engagement
is sought (to counteract the democratic deficit)
- providing a resource on which collectivities at every level could draw
to give musical/lyrical expression to their values, concerns and initiatives
- enabling collectivities, notably at the international and regional level,
to use a common musical/lyrical resource pool without having to resolve any
politico-legalistic problems to their relationships (whether mutually indifferent
or actively antagonistic)
- providing an opportunity to render key legislation and legislative initiatives
comprehensible, especially important given its quantity, length and complexity
and that "ignorance of the law" is not considered to be a valid
- providing an opportunity to give comprehensive cultural expression to key
legislation (such as the proposed EU Constitution) as with such cultural
epics as the Kalevala or
the Mahabarata --
to which people relate with pride, comprehension, a sense of relevance and
exemplification of identity