The Brief: Music to the ears of policymakers

21 August 2018

The Brief podcast is a straightforward snapshot of today’s policy landscape. Marking the loss of Aretha Franklin, the ‘Queen of Soul’, this week we tune in to protest songs and the interplay of music and policy and ask how music can enable change.

For centuries, music has been an integral part of social movements – the civil rights movement is synonymous with jazz, Aretha Franklin’s Respect is a feminist anthem, and hip-hop is woven into contemporary racial politics. As the world faces an era of uncertainty, from escalating trade wars and shifting global power dynamics, to an environmental crisis and the echoing siren call of ‘Fake News’, is music doing its bit to inspire action and fuel a demand for change? Edwina Landale talks to Kim Cunio about a musician’s responsibility to communicate social issues and the role of music as an instrument to amplify unheard voices.

Listen to the podcast here.

Dr Kim Cunio is a Senior Lecturer in composition and musicology in the School of Music of The Australian National University. He is an accomplished researching composer and performer and was awarded an ABC Golden Manuscript Award in recognition of his work with traditional music. Dr Cunio is published by the ABC, records with New World Music and lectures in composition.

Edwina Landale is the presenter of The Brief. She is a student of Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at the ANU.

Show notes | The following were referred to in this episode:

ANU Press and School of Music record label

The Vanishing by Kim Cunio

Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin

There Is Power In A Union by Billy Bragg

Land of the Free by Joey Bada$$

The Message by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five

Elegy for the Arctic by Ludovico Einaudi

Policy Forum Pod is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or find us on Facebook.

This episode of Policy Forum Pod was written and produced by Edwina Landale.

This post and podcast were first published on, Crawford School’s platform for public policy debate, analysis, views, and discussion.

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