Re-enchanting the global village
Historically, bards were part of an oral culture, which began to die out with the advent of writing. According to Max Weber, the world became increasingly “disenchanted” as part of its progress towards literate modernity. Marshall McLuhan’s concept of the “global village”, which describes the “shrinking” of the world due to modern telecommunications, similarly references a characteristic sense of alienation produced by hypermedia interconnectedness. Thus, a re-imagining of the traditional role of the bard in the global village may lead to the world’s re-enchantment.
The music of translation
Through its programme of creative collaborations structured around the core activity of song and verse translation, Global Village Bard explores the idea that music and language became separated at around the same time that language started to be written down. According to Biblical myth, this process may have started in ancient Mesopotamia, where the Tower of Babel symbolically represents the profusion of tongues we now know as human language. The intimate intertwining of language and music that continues to this day may help to explain the mysterious impulses that articulate human emotion. The act of translating verse releases the musical component of language, placing it at the service of memory and imagination.
Practical issues in song and verse translation
It’s clear that there is no going back to the enchantment of an oral, preliterate society. Along with all its hypermedia variants, the written word is here to stay. Nevertheless, language – and especially sung language – still has an enchanting function. Why is poetry so memorable compared to ordinary language? What is it about a popular song that exercises such power over the imagination? What is the role of rhythm and melodic cadence in the influential speeches of great orators and the persuasiveness of advertising jingles? What is the specific contemporary role of English compared to other languages and literatures? Does the language a song is sung in affect how it is received? In order to explore these kinds of questions concerning the role of language and music in communication, Global Village Bard develops and presents bilingual repertoires.
Pragmatic engagement with the world as it is
Global Village Bard is not just a theoretical, but also a very practically-oriented programme. Although hyperconnectivity is a key fact of modern existence, misunderstandings – often based on linguistic and cultural differences – continue to impede trade and business, not to mention presenting a very real threat to peace. Therefore, just as premodern bards placed themselves at the service of chiefs and kings, so a contemporary global village bard works with individuals and organisations who seek to expand their cultural intelligence, e.g. as a means of increasing engagement and trade.
Collaborate! The social and cultural functions of a global village bard
Like traditional village bards, a contemporary global village bard can help to rejuvenate cultural life, support business and diplomatic communications, as well as enrich linguistic sensitivity and learning by adopting a respectfully critical attitude towards power while continuing to participate in and provide focus for public or ceremonial occasions. In addition to developing bilingual repertoires of songs for bicultural events, the Global Village Bard programme is advanced through many different kinds of collaboration between singers, songwriters, poets, translators, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, visual artists and production professionals from all over the world (but especially, at the present time, those working between the Russophone and Anglophone cultural spaces).