Psychology and Music – An Ethno-Musicologist’s view.


Karachi: As part of Aga Khan University’s Sixth Sense Forum (6sf) lecture series, Thomas Burkhalter – an ethnomusicologist, music journalist and cultural producer from Bern, Switzerland – delivered a captivating performance and lecture titled; ‘Out of the Absurdity of Life’ at the Aga Khan University Auditorium. The event, attended by a large audience, was hosted in collaboration with the Goethe Institut Karachi.

Burkhalter mixes music, video-clips and quotes from his physical and virtual field trips and research about new developments in what he calls World Music 2.0: Musicians from Beijing to Tijuana, from Istanbul to Johannesburg, mix and manipulate local and global sounds and ideas within their music. The presentation also included some beautiful folk-music compositions from Pakistan and the Middle-East.

His powerful medley of “Hidden”, “Forgotten” and “Underground” musical compositions and songs, collected from all over the globe, highlighted the various social and emotional causes, expressions and inspirations found in musical creativity.

The energetic presentation explored numerous genres of Music including; the music of War, Violence & Revolutions, Music of Noise & Chaos, Electro and techno music along with Free-improvisation music, etc. It reflected the street cultures, trends and ambiance in various regions and niches of the world like; Wild Africa, Industrialized Europe, Protesting Asia or the Funky sound-art of Latin America, and even the Saharan cell-phone music. Burkhalter also evaluated how the regional politics, social conditions and generation gaps affect the psychology of the local creators of music.

The lively performance was a cautiously orchestrated blend of lessons in; Art, Psychology and Sociology. Here we would like to share some of the interesting statements made by Burkhalter;

With increasing globalization and digitalization the world’s musicians are now able to work in networks. Lesser trends are now emerging from Europe, we see more creative work coming from Asia, Africa and Latin America, which is becoming increasingly popular on the international musical networks and blogs. Some of the valuable compositions and experimental music may appear to be; Noisy, cheap and trashy to a person without a deep understanding of the local taste and culture.

June 16, 2014

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