Ensemble Diplomacy

Day 095 Week 14 Q2 Thursday, April 4, 2024

Every culture in the world has its musical instruments, and within them are representations of one or more cultures. The music that evolves from these diverse musical instruments varies significantly across cultures, yet musicians do not seem to have much trouble crossing boundaries to combine instruments from different parts of the world to produce harmonious music. This morning, I wrote a piece incorporating a guitar-like instrument, which may have been a physical model because it felt very responsive, with another, some sort of strange musical string instrument called a Persian Santoor. However, the second string instrument did not come alive until I attempted to add a South American wooden flute, which I found in the Logic Pro set of instruments on my Mac.

What I find very interesting is that I played three instruments that I did not know how to play, using a keyboard as a controller, from three different cultures: Persia, Peru, and Spain. Spain might be closer to Peru than entirely different. Just as there are many groups of people in the world who all belong to the Semites and share a lot of genetic information, the same is true about musical instruments, which also share genetic background information.

The blending of different sounds from different times, places, and cultures is certainly no different from the blending of current positions countries find themselves in when trying to come to an agreement about how to deal with each other. This is where the unique perspective of musicians in diplomacy becomes valuable. Maybe we should have musicians be the diplomats who negotiate peace because they are used to playing together in harmony and in time as an ensemble. Just as musicians tend to make good chairpersons of art departments because they are more social and collaborative than artists, perhaps musicians should be in charge of diplomatic missions because they are in the business of playing well together. Otherwise, they are not good musicians.

You would think that diplomats are also in the business of playing well together, but apparently, they are not. They are in the business of continuing to get elected and staying in charge. In music, if this occurred, you would not be able to produce music with such a group of peopleā€”just noise. And that is what international politics often seems like these days, as there do not appear to be any people experienced in harmony and ensemble playing. However, musicians have the potential to change this. If a musician cannot play in time and in key, they are a failure as a musician. So why would the same not apply to a diplomat? If they cannot play well together in harmony and in the same key, they should be fired because they are not going to produce any music.