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Creative musical approaches

Using music to highlight and share information and build connections between people/groups.
Multiple Authors
Musical notes on paper (Credit: Sigmund, Unsplash)
(Credit: Sigmund, Unsplash)

This tool is part of the SEI Urban Toolbox for Liveable Cities which has been developed by the SEI Initiative on City Health and Wellbeing. The Urban Toolbox is a collection of tools, developed within SEI or in coordination with SEI, aimed at supporting planning and decision-making for improving the health, well-being and resilience of city residents and urban systems more broadly.


About this tool

How does this tool work?

Musical compositions and performances can be used to effectively share and communicate knowledge and experiences.This approach supports sharing information and messages through a creative platform.

Who might use this tool?

Any members of a project who wish to share their story or input.

Which stakeholders are involved?

Musicians, film-makers, urban planners, any community (defined as a group with a common interest, shared knowledge or people living in a specific neighbourhood).

What stage of the process does this tool support?

This approach can be adapted to be used at different stages of environmental assessment:

  • defining the issue
  • generating ideas
  • developing solutions
  • implementation
  • monitoring
  • evaluation

Tool overview

In order to conduct a musical approach in a project it may be beneficial to give a presentation with step-by-step instructions on the process to the participants.

A digital voice recording device and cameras are required to create the videos and record the music. Emphasis is put on getting a good quality voice recording.

Software is then required to create and compose the music and video, allowing edits and additions of music, photographs, and other graphics where wanted.

Once produced, the track and video need to be promoted where the target audience get their music, this could be local radio, YouTube, social media etc.

Application: musical case study examples

Using music as part of the AIR Network to highlight relationships: this case study uses a musical song and video to highlight the relationship between residents and industry.

Using music as part of the Tupumue project to raise awareness: this case study uses a musical song and video to highlight the importance of lung health in Nairobi.

Capabilities and resources required

Key capabilities and resources required include:

  • Musicians
  • Instruments/music equipment
  • Filming equipment and editing software
  • Stage/performance area, if performing live

Implementation tips: key enablers and potential barriers

Key enablers:

  • Enthusiastic musicians from the community who want to communicate about the topic of concern
  • Budget to pay for their time and expenses
  • People who can check for any inaccurate messages in lyrics / video.

Potential barriers:

  • Risk that songs may lose scientific accuracy to accommodate musicality.

Potential integration with other tools

Music can be used as a dissemination or awareness raising tool alongside many other participatory approaches in the toolbox

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