• Gillian Howell Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Griffith University


Harmony’s semantic links across music and the social domain mean that when evoked in the context of music in peacebuilding, harmony provides both a description of musical action, and an aspirational projection of the desired social outcome. However, in both domains, harmony’s foundational values and implied practices raise questions of how apt it is as a representation, tool, or goal of contemporary peacebuilding. This article seeks to answer these questions. Conceptual in scope, it examines the multiple concepts attached to harmony in the musical and sociocultural domains, and discusses these in relation to peacebuilding, illustrating some of the possible alignments and alliances with examples of cross-community music projects. It offers a heuristic for considering harmony and its values, practices, affordances, and implications from a more critical and nuanced perspective.

Author Biography

Gillian Howell, Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Griffith University

Gillian Howell is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Griffith University, where she completed her PhD in 2017. Working across community music, applied ethnomusicology, and music education, her research examines the contributions of participatory music and arts to post-war community building, wellbeing, and reconciliation, and the interactions of these efforts with international aid and development. She is a Commissioner for the Community Music Activity Commission of the International Society for Music Education, and a former Australian Endeavour Research Fellow. An active participatory music and community cultural development practitioner, Gillian has directed projects in many complex settings, including in remote Indigenous Australia and in post-conflict settings in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Asia.