Volume 12, Issue 1/2, 2009
Art, Praxis, and Social Transformation
Michael Minch, Clifton Sanders
Democracy as Music, Music as Democracy
In this paper we argue that there are valuable consonances between democratic theory and music theory, and between democratization and musical performance and enjoyment. We suggest that this connection is not as trite as it may first appear, but that, since democracy is learned and practiced in a myriad of
ways, music is one such place to learn democratic citizenship. The paper begins with a normative account of democratic theory that is present in two movements. The first, “foundations,” explicates the essential components, criteria, and conditions of democracy. The second, “flows,” addresses the dynamism of democratization. Here is an account of what democracy looks like in action. We then turn to an explication of music theory and improvisation. Here, we focus on jazz as a way to hear the kind of interplay, responsiveness, accountability, discipline, and extemporaneousness that occurs in good jazz, and in authentic (radical) democracy.