International Council for Traditional Music

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO


Study Group for Musics of East Asia (MEA)

The study group for Musics of East Asia (hereafter MEA) was founded in
September 2006 to provide a forum for ICTM members from all parts of the world
who share an interest in the musics of East Asia, broadly defined musically and
geographically, including East Asian music in the diaspora as well as indigenous,
transplanted, and syncretic music within East Asian countries. Other performing
arts related to music will also be part of the subjects of study.

Background and Founding Meeting in Taiwan in 2006

At the 38th Conference of the International Council for Traditional Music, held in
Sheffield, August 2005, scholars from various East Asian countries discussed the
need for a study group for musicologists working on East Asian musics.

Following this discussion and subsequent email correspondences, a conference on
East Asian Music and Modernity was held from August 31 to September 2, 2006 in
I-Lan, Taiwan, with 81 participants, including 34 paper presenters from Taiwan,
Korea, Japan, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, England, the USA, Austria,
the Netherlands, and elsewhere. Prof. TOKUMARU Yosihiko of Japan was invited
to give the keynote speech entitled “Modernization, Acculturation, and Inner
Development: A Case of Japan.” Six other invited speakers from the USA, Korea,
China, England and Australia also presented papers in three plenary sessions.
During a roundtable meeting at this conference, those present agreed to submit a
proposal to the ICTM requesting to form a study group. The program committee
members and two co-opted members were commissioned to serve as an interim
Executive Board. This includes ten members from various countries, with Ying-fen
Wang chosen as the Acting Liaison Officer.

It was decided at this meeting that MEA will be as inclusive as possible and
welcomes members from all regions. However, it also has a special mission to
increase communication and interaction among scholars working in East Asia and
to facilitate greater exchanges of ideas both within East Asia and between scholars
in the region and those elsewhere. Special efforts will also be made to encourage
student participation.

The major aims of the MEA is to hold meetings every other year in between ICTM
world conferences, to provide a website and circulars to increase communication
among members of the Study Group, and eventually to produce publications as a
result of the Study Group’s meetings or joint projects.

Thanks to the generous donation by Prof. TOKUMARU Yosihiko, we were
able to award the Best Student Paper Prize jointly to “Festivalizing Thingyan,
Negotiating Ethnicity: Politics and Performance in a Burmese Chinese Community
in Taiwan” by Hsin-chun Tasaw Lu (UCLA) and to “From Monologue to Dialogue
(?): Interculturalism in Contemporary Ensemble Music” by Harm Langenkemp
(Utrecht University).

Ying-fen Wang

First Conference in Shanghai (December 20-22, 2007)

MEA held its first conference at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in Shanghai,
China, from Dec. 20 to 22, 2007, in conjunction with the 80th anniversary of the
Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Although it was only a two-day event, the
conference was a very exciting and fruitful one, with about 80 participants from
around the world, including not only East Asian countries, but also the USA,
Australia, and European countries such as England, Portugal, and Austria.
The keynote speech, entitled “Music of Desire and the Death of the Exotic”, was
given by Dr. Adrienne Kaeppler, and was followed by 14 paper sessions, with 36
papers presented. The themes for the conference included:

1. The role of Shanghai in East Asian musical development
2. Issues in Traditional Music
3. East Asian musics and colonialism
4. Music, identity, and the nation-state imagination
5. Interpretation of East Asian musical notation
6. New research
Many of the paper sessions were organized under specific issues and
problems shared among East Asian musical traditions, which stimulated crosscultural
discussions and lively exchanges of ideas among the participants.

There was also a session for presentation of new compositions organized by
the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, in which four musical works related to East
Asian musical traditions were verbally introduced by the composers or their
representatives and then presented by either recordings or live performances.

Through the generous donations from Dr. Adrienne Kaeppler and Dr. Stephen
Wild, we were able to establish the Best Student Paper Prize for the best student
paper that was read at the conference and later edited for submission. As a result,
Jeremy Leong of the University of Wisconsin-Madison was awarded “Honorable
Mention” for his paper entitled “Fleeing from Nazi’s Pogrom: Music and the
Jewish Experience in Pre-Communist Shanghai and Fujian.”

Minako Wasada

Operating Procedures, Next Conference, and Mailing List

During the 2007 Shanghai conference, the Board held several meetings and
developed a set of Operational Procedures which were finalized on December 20
and presented at the General Meeting on December 22. The Board will normally
consist of seven members (currently six, with three to step down and four to be
elected before the 2010 conference), representing the various countries and regions
in East Asia and including at least one member from outside of the region. The
Board will appoint a Nominating Committee, and nominees will be solicited from
members of the Board and Study Group. MEA members who have attended at least
one of the Group's previous two conferences will be eligible to vote by email or
post. For the current term, Ying-Fen Wang will serve as Chairperson, J. Lawrence
Witzleben as Vice-Chairperson, and Minako Waseda as Secretary. The other Board
members are Sheen Dae-Cheol, Um Hae-Kyung, and Xiao Mei. The complete
Operational Procedures will be posted on the ICTM website under the section for
Study Groups.

The second MEA conference is scheduled to be held in Seoul, Korea in 2010. Dates
and a call for papers will be announced in a subsequent ICTM Bulletin.
MEA has recently set up a listserv for discussion of issues related to the study of
East Asian musics. This is a moderated list with subscription open to all ICTM
members. To join the list, please send your request to MUSICSOFEASTASIArequest@

For membership application and other details, please see MEA’s website at The secretariat office can be contacted at

J. Lawrence Witzleben