Sounds of Faith
A Unique 3-part Documentary Series exploring Sacred Sound to be Presented on PBS
Sounds of Faith is a unique media and educational outreach project focusing on the commonalities in the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The three-part documentary film and its accompanying outreach program will focus on how humans are connected to God through sound, and will foster a deeper understanding of the strong ties between our religions. These insights into our shared aural heritage are hoped to offer channels for dialogue, mutual understanding, and peace.
Sounds of Faith will be brought to audiences throughout the United States through television broadcast on PBS. Harran Productions, in association with Kurtis Productions, requests your partnership in this project with a leadership commitment. With a pledge to Sounds of Faith, you will help foster greater understanding across cultures and will be prominently recognized during a nationally broadcast television series and its accompanying educational materials and website.
In the three Abrahamic faiths, sound occupies a primary role, reaching out and connecting where printed words fail. From Qur’anic recitation to Jewish cantillation and Christian hymnody, sound is deeply integrated into religion, communicating social messages and our understanding of the essence of the divine. Sound unites people of faith by providing them with a tonal frame of reference which appears every bit as effective in creating and maintaining religious identity as the written text.
The intrinsic connection between faith and music or sound is largely unexplored. Books, magazines, and television programs have focused on the written and dogmatic aspects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam with scant attention to the role of the aural dimension. There are also several musical surveys of sacred sound, yet no connection relating its central role within and between these religious traditions.
Sounds of Faith fills the gap between written traditions and musical survey by illustrating how sound signifies one of the key building blocks for Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Religious sound links our past with our present, gathering and directing spiritual emotions, and evoking a sacred presence as does no other art. Within the documentary series and corresponding educational materials, Sounds of Faith provides a powerful conduit for cross-cultural communication and understanding among traditions, while adding new scholarship to the current dialogue on faith and religion in the United States today.
The Sounds of Faith documentary series will offer three one-hour episodes exploring the Abrahamic tradition of ritual sound. The series will explore ritual sounds as powerful, meaningful, meditative, and transformative. A production template will join one program to the next as a seamless story, with each episode standing alone on its own merit as well. The series will have the capability to continue with additional programs on other faiths and their use of ritual sound.
An advisory panel of leading ethnomusicologists, religious scholars, and academicians from the United States and around the world are offering their expertise to provide a firm historical and interpretive background on which this series and its educational materials will be drawn. The series will first explore the Middle East, birthplace of ritual sound. It will trace the aural dispersion of these sounds from their origin thousands of years ago through the present day where they continue to influence how people practice their faith and contribute to a vibrant, multi-religious and multi-cultural American landscape.
Sounds of Faith will offer an interactive website where participants can access additional resources. A wide range of educational materials will be incorporated for varied audiences to provide a deeper understanding of ritual sounds across faiths and enhance the documentary experience. In addition, access to the music and sounds will be available via compact disc and podcast. A key tenet of the project is youth engagement: both the documentary and curricular materials will offer accessible insights encouraging an appreciation of diversity and peace.
Timeline and Budget
Sounds of Faith is currently in pre-production; filming will commence around the globe starting this summer (2007). The series and its educational materials will launch in fall, 2009. Harran Productions Foundation is currently raising $2.5 million to support the 3-hour national production and its educational components.
Sounds of Faith will offer an understanding of the meaning and function of ritual sounds and how they have linked religions throughout history, and can continue to bridge geographic and cultural distances today. Sounds of Faith will bring traditions together, making connections that reach beyond intellect and intolerance, seeking our common humanity. The project adds a new dimension to understanding the written meaning of religion and offers viewers the opportunity to more deeply explore the sounds of our own faiths. We look forward to your meaningful partnership in this dynamic, ground-breaking project.
See also Shakeela Hassan Named “Purpose Prize Fellow” http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/american_muslim_shakeela_hassan_named_purpose_prize_fellow/0014211