International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

Call for Papers: 21st Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Historical Sources of Traditional Music

Dear Colleagues, 

We are happy to announce that the 21st Symposium of the Study Group on Historical Sources of Traditional Music will take place on 9-13 March 2016 in Paris, France, by invitation of Susanne Fürniss, MNHN. The conference site is the Musée de l’Homme, and the Meeting is hosted by the Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle (MNHN).


1. Evaluation of historical sound recordings

This topic focuses on archives, archival studies, and the current discussion of how to make use of archival material. Archives today provide access to their holdings to different kinds of users: scholars, performers, source communities, the media, the interested public, and others. Theoretical issues concerning archives discussing access, legal rights, restrictions, technical questions etc. are presently available in great numbers, but users may have different opinions and expectations.

Historical recordings may be used for research; they also form a basis for the reconstruction/ revitalizing of old traditions, especially by members of the source communities. Historically inspired performances, based on archival studies, are frequently found in concerts and publications. What is the reason for the growing interest in historical recordings and how can the material be evaluated? Who should be asked for evaluation and who is able to judge the content of historical recordings? Colleagues are encouraged to present their experiences and discuss the problems related to the use of archival recordings.

2. The study of history through oral and written sources on music

This topic represents a shift of perspective on the historical study of musical traditions: focus is placed on how we may gain knowledge of human history, and the history of societies, through the study of music. Musical practice might be regarded as a formal indicator of social change, for example due to cultural contacts that have an influence on musical style and performance practices, or related to internal dynamics within the processes of variation and creation. Knowledge of the conditions for, and character of, musical performance in historical societies may also give us more knowledge of the society as such.

One example is the case of migration, when relationships with new groups of neighbours are created; here experience shows that these contacts often have a direct influence on the musical idiom of the different groups, leaving permanent traces in the musical sound, even if the inter-ethnic constellations change later on. Thus, by comparing data of different neighbouring ethnic groups, or of groups having no direct contact but showing common musical features, one might get information about migrations and contacts in earlier times. 

The presented perspective might be central for scholars studying societies with strong oral traditions, where this approach may reveal ancient relationships which are beyond the collective memory. However, the topic also invites scholars studying different phenomena in urban and industrialized cultures, where musical sources of any kind may be used as source material for non-musical knowledge. These sources may include not only sound recordings, but also contemporary oral traditions, iconography, written texts or musical scores. Also colleagues from related fields outside ethnomusicology are welcome to give papers on this topic.

Paper proposals, not exceeding 300 words, should be sent to the programme committee consisting of Susanne Ziegler, Ingrid Åkesson, and Susanne Fürniss before October 1st, 2015. We also encourage presentations in the format of panels, which should consist of at least three presenters. 

If you have any questions regarding the Study Group on Historical Sources, former meetings and/or publications and the forthcoming meeting, please contact us. 

We look forward to see you in Paris!

Susanne Fürniss,, Local organizer
Susanne Ziegler,, Study Group Co-Chair
Ingrid Åkesson,, Study Group Co-Chair