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Re-enchanting the global village

Historically, bards were part of an oral culture, which began to die out with the advent of writing. Accordingly, as part of its progress towards literate modernity, the world became (according to Max Weber) increasingly “disenchanted”. Marshall McLuhan‘s concept of the “global village”, which describes the “shrinking” of the world due to modern telecommunications, also references the characteristic sense of alienation produced by hypermedia interconnectedness. Thus, the world’s re-enchantment may ensue from a re-imagining of the traditional role of the bard in the global village.

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 myth, this process may have become established in Mesopotamia, with the Tower of Babel famously representing the profusion of tongues we now know as human language. However, 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 return to the enchantment of an oral, preliterate society. Writing, along with all its hypermedia variants, is certainly here to stay. Nevertheless, language – and especially sung language – still has an enchanting function. Why is poetry so memorable compared to ordinary spoken and written words and phrases? What is it about a popular song that still exercises such power over the imagination? What is the specific contemporary role of English compared to other great languages and literatures? Does it make any difference what language a song is sung in? In order to explore these kinds of questions concerning the role of language in communication, Global Village Bard supports the development and presentation of bilingual repertoires.

Of course, Global Village Bard is not just a theoretical, but also a very practically-oriented programme. Clearly, while hyperconnectivity is a key fact of modern existence, misunderstandings – often based on linguistic and cultural differences – still get in the way of 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 does their contemporary equivalent aim to place itself at the service of organisations seeking to expand their cultural intelligence as a means of increasing engagement and trade.

Collaborate! The social and cultural functions of the global village bard

Like the original village bards, it is by adopting a respectfully critical attitude towards power at the same time as continuing to participate in and provide focus for public or ceremonial occasions, that a contemporary global village bard can help to rejuvenate cultural life, support business and diplomatic communications, as well as enrich linguistic sensitivity and learning.

In addition to developing bilingual repertoires of songs for bicultural events, the Global Village Bard programme is advanced through many different kinds of collaborations 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).