Ballhaus.community – A virtual community
The Ballhaus association produces performing arts (in the broadest sense of the term) with roots planted in the classical and acoustic music tradition*. Ballhaus is committed to the integration of performing arts in new cultural contexts; The purpose of the association is to develop, produce and promote cultural projects, with a special focus on projects that strengthen and develop social relationships in connection with artistic and cultural events.
The activities of Ballhaus are widely inspired by music sociologist Christoffer Small's thoughts on music as a social and socializing activity; Musicking rather than music! The writings of Christoffer Small, not least his book on Musicking, constitute a 'must read' for anyone interested in both music and developing new audiences!
The first idea of a virtual music community was planted during the Pandemic; A community independent of any physical contact between the members of the community. That is, a kind of on-line musicking! The thoughts are outlined in this article.
Now, fortunately the circumstances have changed and we are free to meet again in concert halls and other venues. Nevertheless, an online community continues to be relevant, no longer as a substitute for the physical concerts, but now as a supplement to a traditional concert activity. And honestly...! The classical music scene and its near traditions within jazz, folk and world music have not fared better after the pandemic. Furthermore, there is no indication that the near future will be any different. This applies not least to niche genres and lesser-known composers and performers. The audience is back, but not the entire audience!
New opportunities and networks
So, would it be possible create a social community, online? A community that offered the classical and acoustic music scene new opportunities to reach out to a wider audience, and, at the same time, strengthened and developed the social network within what could be called the music ecosystem: Artists, audiences, organizers, cultural journalists and everyone else who helps making the music play, so to speak! In such a virtual music community everyone would contribute together!
Musicking rather than music!
The use of social media has changed during and after the pandemic. Recently, the American multimillionaire Elon Musk has entered the scene and has set the Twitter platform on fire. In connection with the fire alarm, new SoMe players have appeared; one of the most important is called Mastodon.
A modern way of communication
Mastodon is open source*** software which can be used freely to set up an independent twitter-like platform. A Mastodon platform uses a common open source communication protocol, ActivityPub, to communicate with other independent Mastodon platforms. It already sounds complicated, but what it really means is, that anyone with a computer of sufficient capacity can build a Mastodon platform capable of "talking" to other similar Mastodon platforms. That way a comprehensive network is quickly created, where users from all these different and independent Mastodon platforms communicate with each other and share text, sound and images. It is called a Fediverse, a fusion of the words 'federal' and 'universe'. For those interested in the technical part, there is plenty of information on the web.
As I mentioned, Mastodon is reminiscent of Twitter, but yet no. Please watch this short video for an uncomplicated introduction. Mastodon provides a more modern way of communication and focuses on the users rather than on the owners of the network. In fact, there are no real owners of the Mastodon network, as it consists of all these small independent and self-contained platforms. Therefore, no one can set fire to the entire network!
Mastodon provides us with everything we need to build an online community. The Ballhaus association has therefore decided to create and maintain a Mastodon platform with the title (and the web address) ballhaus.community. At ballhaus.community, everyone from the music ecosystem; artists, audience, organizers, cultural journalists, etc. are welcomingly invited to create a free account and become part of the community. We are targeting users in Denmark in the first instance, but users from other parts of the world can also register if they have an association with the Danish music scene.
The audience is back, but not the entire audience!
When you register as a user, you will be able to send and receive messages, graphics and videos, just like you are used to from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. Users can also follow other users, both inside and outside the ballhaus.community. Users can create or join groups, create lists with specific topics and much more! You can choose between communicating with your own followers, with all users in ballhaus.community, or even chose the larger Fediverse, which consists of all users in ballhaus.community + their followers on other platforms.
In this way, ballhaus.community can be used both for targeted communication with selected users and for generally staying up-to-date in the music ecosystem.
Finally, the large Fediverse also allows you to watch cat videos if you should need it occasionally! :)
The Ballhaus association will be working intensively in the coming weeks and months to get this new virtual community up and running. The technique is in place, now the content must be created and the community forged.
We hope you will join us!
* We prefer the term 'classical music tradition' to 'classical music', as classical music also refers to a specific period in music history from approx. 1750 to approx. 1820
** Christoffer Small was the New Zealand musicologist and music sociologist who coined the term 'Musicking'. Mere information on Wikipedia
*** Open source software are programming tools which can be used freely and further developed