Jacquelynne Modeste (Cultural Diplomacy Expert)

18.12.2011 - Interview conducted by the ICD News Team

Q1: How can music and jazz and swing music in particular influence and strengthen intercultural relations?

A1: One of the important things about intercultural communication is that it can be used to help understand different cultures and how they think. In order to integrate various traditional means of performance, part of it is letting people know that these traditional forms are relevant. Therefore it would be helpful to encourage workshops and classes and allowing people to explore traditional forms of music.

Q2: How have technological advances and innovations influenced, impacted and shaped the possibilities of using music as a tool of cultural diplomacy?

A2: How can technology be used as a tool? I believe that wide distribution of music can help this through mediums such as I-pods, I-tunes, and internet, which help disseminate art. It is a powerful mechanism to connecting people through music. Yet live performances are still important since the virtual world can only show so much. You will never have the same experience from the virtual world than from a live performance and feeling the music resonate through you. So I think the two should be complimentary.

Q3: What is the role of music, art, and culture, in this globalized world?

A3: From my own experiences I can say for certain that the biggest challenge is seeing whatever performer I want. This is a bigger challenge for our generation that globalization has created.

I think art is every important, as it allows us to expand our imaginations and explore imaginative possibilities. Music also encourages people to think creatively. In particular, music allows people to listen and then think about how they would use a particular sound, what it means to them or even how it makes them feel. So it allows them to explore their feelings then find ways to articulate that. The different ways of articulating this can through political action, writing a song, essay, singing a song. To how we treat our friends or while forming relationships with colleagues. I think music and art are so important that it binds all humanity in allowing us to explore imaginative possibilities

Q4: You wrote book on the historic cosmopolitan drive of jazz, can you explain your work in this area a bit further?

A4: Well the book explores in depth what I talk about topically. I look at the blues and blues based jazz in areas where jazz has not been typically explored. So I look at higher education and I look at government and global governance, business strategy and corporate culture, performance and technology. By doing this we can look at these areas where we don’t typically find the influence of art and music. The book allows me to go in depth by demonstrating its pervasiveness in our culture.

Q5: You mentioned global governance. Would you mind saying a little bit more in this area?

A5: What I am talking about are the hierarchical systems which are typically what see today. Through blues and jazz what we see a breakdown of this hierarchy. We see multilateral dialogue and communication emerging. This is because there is no hierarchy in a jazz band. Since all the instruments have an important role to the overall sound of the band in such a way that it models multilateral dialogue. This is what I mean by global governance. From organizations to nations they all need to move toward listening in a multilateral way with other partners while dismantling the hierarchy. It also has to be more than the bi-lateral conversation we had during the Cold War. There are regions and nations that have expertise, influence and specialties in certain areas. If we listen like musicians listen to each other in a band then each country has something to contribute about how to get along with each other in the world.