It all began with a concert. Classical guitarist, Julian Bream, was playing at the Kennedy Center. The only thing on the massive concert hall stage was one chair, one guitar, and one player. The house was full to capacity, some 4000 people listening so intently that I wondered if I should hold my breath so as not to interfere with other people’s obvious state of bliss. The audible sounds of the audiences’ collective, joyful exhale accompanied the end of each selection.
I was not yet in college but already knew I wanted to devote my life to making music, but more to the point, to create the affect that I had witnessed in that concert – an affect I would play host to, thousands of times again, in other concerts: transformation.
How do you transform conflict into empathy? I have spent a lifetime searching for the alchemical secret. And then I found it.
It turns out that live music, in the right context, can transform a common state (let’s call it conflict) into joy (let’s call it empathy). Why? Neuroscience tells us the answer with potentially global significance.
The world is full of conversations about how music makes us feel. I don’t want to negate those, but I do think that they miss the point. Music works not because of what it makes us feel, but because of what it makes us become. It brings us to an awareness of joy. Joy is an internal state of peace based on who we are innately.
What if the only thing keeping the human race from finding common ground, with those we disagree with, is the mutual experience of beauty? What if the tool for being able to recognize our common humanity is as simple as synchronizing our heartbeats and our brain waves while experiencing live music?
And now, imagine if the leaders of the Nations spent 12 – 15 minutes, while in negotiation, immersed in the transformative experience of witnessing and hearing a few musicians, right in their negotiation space? What insights could be gained? The idea is not as far-fetched as one might think.
As President Obama stated in an interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton, “Everyone walks into the [negotiation] room with constraints placed on them by their constituency… The only way anything ever gets accomplished is by seeing the world through the eyes of the person across the table.”
The Resonance Project (TRP) is the catalyst needed to make this possible.