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Soundwork on a Hot Rock
Music & Sound in Times of Change

by Joshua Leeds
Publishing 2025

May 2024
 
Dear Soundworkers and Music Lovers,
 
The title of my new book is Soundwork on a Hot Rock. "Soundwork" is a term I use to describe the intentional (and hopefully positive) applications of music and sound. "Hot Rock" refers to our warming planet.
 
This book began with an inquiry into the relevance of soundwork in 2018. With the advent of the 2019 pandemic, this inquiry became essential. Since 2020, a crack in the assumptions of control and certainty continues to manifest. As we've moved into a post-covid perspective, people are drawn to a refined sense of honesty and authenticity that derives from recent experiences of scarcity, fear, lack of control, polarization, and politicization.
 
I believe we have entered into an evolutionary time. Now are the seeds of renaissance – where artists and visionaries help cultures into newer, greater ways of being. But that is the silver lining, because, in fact, there is a whole lot of suffering coming our way.
 
As the third 21st century decade unfolds, artists, caretakers, and seers enter the time of deep listening and asking, “What is called for and needed?”
 
As soundworkers, I believe it is our melodies, harmonies, timbres, rhythms, frequencies, science, and heartspace that are called for and needed.
 
Everywhere, people are confronted with continual waves of uncertainty. 
Music has always served
social cohesion–empowering community hope and unity. We are all in this together. 
 
For soundworkers – a new time for shedding old identities, learning new skillsets, seeking silver linings, being alert and of service.
 
In 2024, eight billion humans are looking and listening for a new wholeness. Everyone knows that life is different now. There is no going back to the way it was. 1990 is a long time ago…

Redefining the Role of Music – 
Community sonic activism is re-born.
Music as service.

 
From sonic alchemy to sonic activism, this is a time for expanding the relevance of soundwork for cultures in crises.
 
Global communities have entered times of massive change and need support. Lahaina, Israel, Gaza, Heat Domes, hurricanes, and Atlantic coral reefs call out loss. Geopolitical food hoarding causes migratory waves and people are hurting. Music and art can bring powerful and meaningful solutions to troubled cultures. Soundwork has come of age and there are ample opportunities for musicians, soundworkers, scientists, music lovers, artists everywhere! Please notice...
  
• The Culture Becomes the Patient. Therapeutically-trained musicians (music therapists to folk musicians) bring their training and talents out of the hospitals, concert venues, and recording studios and into the neighborhoods.
 
• Public Music. The world needs music ever-present, everywhere. Social cohesion is triggered by people singing together.
 
• Expressive arts have been clinically-proven to play a major role in community health, especially mental health. The Neuroarts movement is growing.
 
• Current research into therapeutic soundwork is unparalleled: $35m+ currently invested by the US NIH and NEA since 2017.
  
• The healing role of musicians in the service of disruption calls.
  
Music stardom is a vapid motivation in these times. As Covid demonstrated, music returns to its birthplace in the bosom of culture; a reflection of the heart and soul of being. The culture is in need and will be for many decades to come.
 
Therapeutic/concert/folk musicians and educated soundworkers evolve into sonic activists. Bring what you do, teach others what you do…
 
This is what Soundwork on a Hot Rock is about: a 21st century re-birthing of sonic culture as a healing force on our beautiful Earth.
 
Soundwork and aesthetic colleagues everywhere, please help define and enact this essential emergence of physical, emotional and spiritual activism.

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