International Council for Traditional Music

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology

In 2007, a study group devoted to applied ethnomusicology was established within the International Council for Traditional Music. The intention to establish such a study group had been present among some ICTM members for several years. The symposium Ethnomusicology and Ethnochoreology in Education: Issues in Applied Scholarship that took place in September 2006 in Ljubljana, Slovenia (see report by Mojca Kovačič and Urša Šivic in the ICTM’s October 2006 Bulletin) served as a major boost in this direction. ICTM’s 39th world conference in Vienna (July 4-11, 2007) featured both a global double panel The Politics of Applied Ethnomusicology: New Perspectives with six participants, each from a different continent - Samuel Araujo (Brazil), Maureen Loughran (USA), Jennifer Newsome (Australia), Patricia Opondo (South Africa), Svanibor Pettan (Slovenia), and Tan Sooi Beng (Malaysia) - and a “preliminary meeting” aimed at the establishment of the study group. At this meeting on 10 July 2007, which was attended by 44 members, agreement about working definitions of applied ethnomusicology and the mission statement of the proposed study group were reached: 

APPLIED ETHNOMUSICOLOGY is the approach guided by principles of social responsibility, which extends the usual academic goal of broadening and deepening knowledge and understanding toward solving concrete problems and toward working both inside and beyond typical academic contexts.

The ICTM STUDY GROUP ON APPLIED ETHNOMUSICOLOGY advocates the use of ethnomusicological knowledge in influencing social interaction and course of cultural change. It serves as a forum for continuous cooperation through scholarly meetings, projects, publications and correspondence.

According to the ICTM’s rules, elections for three officers took place. Svanibor Pettan (Slovenia) agreed to serve as a Chairperson, Klisala Harrison (Finland/Canada) accepted the position of a Vice Chairperson, and Eric Martin Usner (USA) that of a Secretary/Treasurer. The proposed study group on applied ethnomusicology was approved at the Executive Board’s meeting in Vienna on 12 July 2007. 

The study group’s first meeting, titled Historical and Emerging Approaches to Applied Ethnomusicology, took place July 9-13, 2008 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. This study group meeting included an innovative format of talking circles, reports on which also are found on this webpage. Talking circles, in contexts of the study group, have been conceptualized as discursive meetings of minds around points of intellectual difference and current relevance in applied ethnomusicology studies. These helped to motivate the fast development of the field of applied ethnomusicology at the international level.  

The second meeting of the ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology happened in Hanoi, Vietnam from 19-30 July 2010, in conjunction with a meeting of the ICTM study group Music and Minorities. This was the first time in the history of the ICTM that two study groups met at the same time. The overarching themes were ethnomusicological practices of community engagement, dialogue, advocacy and sustainability.  

Also in 2010, ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology members published the first book specifically on the discipline of applied ethnomusicology. Applied Ethnomusicology: Historical and Contemporary Approaches is an anthology that was edited by Klisala Harrison, Elizabeth Mackinlay and Svanibor Pettan and published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. The book features peer-reviewed articles on four themes: historical and contemporary understandings of applied ethnomusicology in international perspective, teaching pedagogies and research practices of applied ethnomusicology, building sustainable music cultures, and music’s roles in conflict situations. Authors of the articles, in addition to the editors, are: Ana Hofman, Bernhard Bleibinger, Muriel Swijghuisen Reigersberg, Eric Martin Usner, Katarina Juvančič, Vojko Veršnik, Huib Schippers, Jelena Jovanović, Ursula Hemetek and Margaret Kartomi. More details can be found at The book's Introduction, by Klisala Harrison and Svanibor Pettan, gives some theoretical perspective on applied ethnomusicology and locates at  

In 2011, the study group elected a new executive. Klisala Harrison agreed to serve as Chairperson while Samuel Araújo (Brazil) accepted the position of Vice Chairperson and Britta Sweers (Switzerland) became Secretary/Treasurer.  

2012 brought the study group's exciting third symposium in Larnaca, Cyprus. Membership continued to explore the study group's focus on music and conflict, in the context of this meeting. The symposium program additionally addressed the themes of disability and music, and social activism. Talking circles discussed applied ethnomusicology in relation to institutions. These were highly successful discussions that informed the development of another edited volume (see below).

In 2014, the study group held its fourth symposium on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The meeting's themes were applied ethnomusicology and institutions, music and media, and new work in applied ethnomusicology.

In 2015, Klisala Harrison was re-elected as Chair, whereas Adriana Helbig (USA) agreed to serve as Vice Chair and Pamela Onishi (Singapore), as Secretary.

The fifth symposium took place in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada in autumn 2016. Due to local arrangements demands and a high number of participants, there were consecutive sessions. The symposium themes were music, labour and exchange; research methdologies for the 21st century; and intangible cultural heritage.

2016 saw the publication of a journal issue titled Applied Ethnomusicology in Institutional Policy and Practice. The volume features quality, peer-reviewed articles developed from papers presented at the 2010, 2012 and 2014 symposia of the ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology via an open call distributed to all participants. It is freely accessable at A Chinese-language book version of this collection will be published by Central Conservatory of Music Press, Beijing before July 2017. The volume explores the relationship between applied ethnomusicology and various aspects of institutional policy and practice via case studies from Germany, China, the UK, the USA, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the Seychelles and Australia. Questions addressed include: What are the types of institutional policies engaged by applied ethnomusicological work today? What is the relevance of music’s roles in addressing concrete problems, in the academy and ever-more frequently beyond, to different sorts of institutional policies? What are the benefits and problematics of applied ethnomusicological approaches, projects, theories and results in light of certain policies? The article authors are Sally Treloyn, Emily Joy Rothschild, Marie-Christine Parent, Muriel E. Swijghuisen Reigersberg, Zhang Boyu, Jennifer K. Newsmen, Bernhard Bleibinger, Dave Dargie, Jocelyn Moon and Klisala Harrison; the editor is Klisala Harrison.

Our next symposium is planned for 2018 in China. Prof. Zhang Boyu has generously offered to host the meeting at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

The study group holds general assemblies (business meetings) as well, usually on an annual basis. These, together with the symposia, are detailed in annual reports published on this webpage and in the ICTM Bulletin.

The next business meeting of the study group will be held at the ICTM world conference in Limerick, Ireland in July 2017.

The ICTM Study Group for Applied Ethnomusicology maintains a FaceBook page for circulating notices of interest to the group:


Huib Schippers (USA)


Vice Chairperson
Adriana Helbig (USA)

Wei-Ya Lin (Austria)

Public - accessible to all site users



The 4th symposium of the ICTM Study Group

Applied Ethnomusicology


East London – Hogsback – Grahamstown, South Africa

June 30 – July 4, 2014



2013 - Minutes of the 6th General Assembly of the ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology

Date: July 12, 2013

Location: Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Shanghai, ICTM World Conference in Shanghai

Co-chairs: Klisala Harrison (Study Group Chairperson), Samuel Araujo (Vice Chairperson), Britta Sweers (Secretary)

2012 - Report on the 3rd Biannual Symposium and 5th General Assembly of the ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology

The ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology met for a stimulating third symposium at the University of Nicosia in Nicosia, Cyprus from 18 to 22 April 2012. Attended by approximately 40 scholars from Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Australia, the symposium concentrated on the three themes of politics and practices of applied ethnomusicology in relation to social activism, censorship and state control; disability and music; and music and conflict.

2012 - Talking Circle Reports, 3rd Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology

Since its first symposium, the study group has used a specially designed format of talking circles in order to stimulate and promote discussions and knowledge exchange on topics important to applied ethnomusicology.

In 2012, the central topic of discussion was the practices and challenges of applied ethnomusicology in relation to institutions.

2012 Program - 3rd Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology


3rd Symposium of the Study Group APPLIED ETHNOMUSICOLOGY

Hosted by the Cyprus Musicological Society

NICOSIA, CYPRUS, 18-22 April 2012


Wednesday, 18/4:


18.00-19.00 Registration, UNIVERSITY OF NICOSIA, CINE STUDIO

19.00 Opening ceremony, CINE STUDIO

-Panikos GIORGOUDES, Chair, Cyprus Musicological Society

2011 - 3rd Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology Call for Papers

for Nicosia, Cyprus, 18-22 April 2012

The International Council for Traditional Music’s Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology welcomes proposals for its Cyprus symposium. It which will be hosted in collaboration with the Cyprus Musicological Society and the University of Nicosia with support from the Department of Social and Political Science of the University of Cyprus. The symposium features three main themes.


1. Politics and practices of applied ethnomusicology: Social activism, censorship, state control

2011 - Applied Ethnomusicology Study Group Report

The fourth business meeting of ICTM’s applied ethnomusicology study group (AESTG) was held on 18 July 2011 as part of the 41st ICTM World Conference in St. John’s, Canada. It was hosted by outgoing Chair Svanibor Pettan together with outgoing Vice Chair Klisala Harrison, and was attended by more than forty ICTM members.

2010 - 6th Symposium of the Study Group MUSIC AND MINORITIES & 2nd Symposium of the Study Group APPLIED ETHNOMUSICOLOGY


6th Symposium of the Study Group MUSIC AND MINORITIES &
2nd Symposium of the Study Group APPLIED ETHNOMUSICOLOGY

HANOI, VIETNAM, 19-30 July 2010

Final Program

Monday, 19/7:
Arrival Day, Registration

Tuesday, 20/7:

9.00-10.00 Opening of the Conference

Welcoming performances

Opening addresses:
Dr. Le Van Toan, Director of the Vietnamese Institute for Musicology