By Merja Hottinen
Agreement is easy to reach in one’s own reference group. How to make a living is an important topic for artists talking among themselves, while supporters of the Pirate Party leave no one in any doubt that music should be freely accessible to all. The problems begin when different philosophies have to be mutually reconciled – as in politics.
Today’s fragmentary society is not particularly conducive to debate across group borders. We get frustrated with discussions in which philosophies fail to meet; we do not feel we understand each other. It is easier to address comments at like-minded persons in social media than at acquaintances who may think differently. We live as if in a bubble, from which it is difficult to strike out and confess and argue our opinions to someone with opposite views.
All the more refreshing it is, therefore, when someone voices an opinion, boldly and in public. As in the songs by the punk band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, saying that policymakers betray us and society stinks, or in Asa’s insightful rap lyrics. These provide a new medium for the like-minded, while at the same time opening up a novel perspective on social reality for others. Voiced in words, reality becomes arguable and audible.
‘Voice’ does not, however, mean just words, even in politics. Opinions, statements and other political moves can also be made in music, and this does not mean just music branded as political. Quite ordinary choices play a part in the building of everyday society, be they, say, choices of musical genre, audience-artist communication, performing venue or something else of significance to music. And the very act of composing, of creating new art, is in its own way a political act: it is an act of making one’s own voice heard and of demonstrating that the arts system is something to value.
The Finnish word ääni means both ‘vote’ and ‘voice’: the right to vote is the right to voice. It is a powerful metaphor for expressing an opinion both politically and in public debate. But even more important is the ability to listen to these voices and discuss them. To form an opinion: for or against.
Translation: Susan Sinisalo