International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

REPORT: First Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Audiovisual Ethnomusicology — Sound and Visions (Ljubljana, 24-27 August 2016)

REPORT: First Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Audiovisual Ethnomusicology — Sound and Visions (Ljubljana, 24—27 August 2016)[1]

by Marija Dumnić


            The group devoted to research, preservation and dissemination of audiovisual media in ethnomusicology had its first symposium in City Museum in Ljubljana (Slovenia), 24—27 August 2016, in excellent organization of ICTM, Department of Musicology at Faculty of Arts at University of Ljubljana, Imago Sloveniae, Institute of Ethnomusicology ZRC SAZU, Cultural and Ethnomusicological Society Folk Slovenia — all of them lead by ICTM Secretary General, Svanibor Pettan. This scientific meeting was connected with the program of the 28th international festival “Nights in Old Ljubljana Town”, which included various concerts (world music, among others) for wide audience at central city squares.

            As Chair of the group Leonardo D’Amico explained in the book of abstracts, ethnomusicological knowledge should comprehend not only “humanly organized sound”, but also its cultural context and natural setting, in order to achieve visualization of music (other than written text and musical transcriptions). In his opinion confirmed by the presentations and discussions, filmmaking in ethnomusicology has potential in researching and teaching, as well as in openly engaged activities such as preservation and diffusion of music cultures. With the aim to enhance the interest about audiovisual communication, there were three themes for papers conducted by the Program Committee (Barley Norton — Chair).

            Topic Theories and Methods in Audiovisual Ethnomusicology was interesting for the most presenters. Terada Yoshitaka discussed on the example on marginalized Buraku community’s drum practice (taiko) important problems for an ethnomusicologist-activist who deals with filmmaking: documenting (not just music performance, but also emotions behind, bodily movements, facial expressions, sound quality, narratives), editing (questioning presence of narration and interviews, translations), postproduction. Dario Ranocchiari and Eugenio Giorgianni gave paper with two examples about making music video clips as research method in ethnomusicology. Presentation of Domenico Staiti and Silvia Bruni about fieldwork with trance rituals in Morocco (lila) show how photo/video camera became not only non-forbidden, but even part of the ritual. It also arose provocative questions about the relationship between observer and observed. Manfred Bartmann presented the project of extended CD “Frisia Orientalis” based on long-term fieldwork and upgraded with experiments which explore aesthetics of pulsation. George Mürer read theoretical paper about rhetoric, forum, scholarship and domain of ethnomusicological film. Saida Yelemanova and Suinbike Suleimanova presented their video clips of Kazakh arka music(ians). Through analysis of migrants’ media coverage, images and recent video spot, Eckehard Pistrick pointed to making of their cultural otherness. Yves Defrance contributed to organological research with film Drumming in Kerala, and discussed about camera, shooting and editing techniques available to an ethnomusicologist working alone in the field. Indicating advantages of video in comparison to audio, Giorgio Adamo especially paid attention to research film, its recording techniques and documentary value. Marita Fornaro Bordolli’s and Antonio Diaz’ paper presented ethnomusicologically good filmmaking and analysis from that basis of Uruguayan humoristic murga genre of polyphonic songs. Very intriguing topic of filming and criticizing musical heritage (as defined by UNESCO ICH concept) was raised by Norton on the examples of Vietnamese Vi and Giam folk songs – one shot for the nomination for the Representative List and the other was TV footage of performance to celebrate inscription.

            New Research theme was opened by Charlotte Vignau’s paper about video research project on alphorn music and yodeling, which followed not musicians, but researchers. Salvatore Morra pointed to importance of new visual technologies and media in revival process of Tunisian Ūd culture. Jana Belišová emphasized advantages of video over written text and audio, and showed cases of Romani lamentations in Slovakia. With nuanced approach to filmmaking and anthropological interpretation of fiestas in Albacete, Julio Guillén Navarro concluded that film is useful for the analysis of movements. Presentation of D’Amico demonstrated complete purpose of video recording in ethnomusicological analysis, explaining the process of contrasto in ottava rima in Tuscany. Matías Isolabella’s and Raquel Jimenez’ paper discussed filming of manufacturing techniques of pottery for small single-headed drum in Morocco. Jennie Gubner explored the idea of sensory filmmaking with her research about tango “not-for-export” scene in Buenos Aires.

            Topic Uses of Audiovisual Archives in Ethnomusicological Research started with presentation of Andrew Pace devoted to network of private recording, archiving and distribution practice of Maltese għana. Also, there was presentation of Institute of Musicology in Sarajevo and its audio archive by Jasmina Talam and Tamara Karača Beljak. Very good session about archival work started with Gerda Lechleitner’s presentation of Vienna Phonogrammarchiv with the purpose to underline the necessity of archiving and its adjustment to media development. Isobel Clouter further talked about experience of repatriation of historical audiovisual collections on the example of link between British Library and Nepal as place where particular wax cylinders were recorded. Relation between old (shellac) recordings and nowadays footage was given by Rolf Killius on the case of “sea music” from the Arabian Peninsula.

            Apart from papers with video appendices, selected films (unfortunately, without printed plot summary, but with English subtitles) were presented at special sessions, with the possibilities of author’s short introduction and discussion after screening. The first two movies were thematizing music of Kosovo Romani communities. Pettan’s work (Kosovo through the Eyes of Local Gypsy Musicians) was recorded in the 1990s (and published 2015 in SEM collection) and it was devoted to musicians of marginal ethnic community and their local characterizations of popular song “Lambada”. Staiti presented very interesting film (Kajda) about female musicians who play tambourines (def) as accompaniment to singing at weddings, and except ethnographical scenes he gave valuable recordings of emic knowledge about complex local rhythmical patterns. Furthermore, El Abra (Magdalena Mactas, Juan de Jager, Lucas Sgrecia) was ethnographic film about procession in Argentinian and Bolivian Andes, where folk music ensembles have prominent role. Bacchanal (Giorgianni) was presentation of Caribbean carnival (with popular music and dance) in Manchester with questioning of local multiculturalism. Very informative was Asere Crúcoro (Miguel Angel García Velasco), with ethnomusicologically explained aspects of ritual practices which connect Nigeria and Cuba. Voci Alte (Renato Morelli) was cinematic film about three cases of community singing in Italian village Premana. Two films were devoted to “Neanderthal flute” found in Slovenia – the older one to its archeological aspect and the newer to its musical popularization (in memoriam Ljuben Dimkaroski, musician). Screening of the movie Song of the Phoenix (Wu Tiang-Ming) was moderated by Yu Hui and it proved the relevance of professionally directed “docufiction” in sending messages to wide audience – in this case, about tradition as virtue through folk musical practice. Film Polyphonia: Albania’s Forgotten Voices (Björn Reinhardt, Pistrick) showed society in transition on the example of Albanian singers of different confessions who sing in folk multipart style. Sounds from the Islands (Paolo Vinati) presented sequences about bagpipe in Croatian islands. Film of Razia Sultanova (Music of the Uzbeks of Northern Afganistan) was not at the technical level as many presented films, but it was the only movie about complexity of ethnomusicological (field and archival) research, and it included various recordings about almost unknown musical practice. Finally, Yoshitaka presented interesting film portrait of folk musician (Samir Kurtov: A Zurna Player from Bulgaria) done with huge field help of local ethnomusicologists.

            On the last day there was workshop, held by director of several awarded documentaries devoted to folk music — Morelli, with the assistance of video artist Sara Maino. It was demonstration of polyphony recording on the examples of folk singing from Sardinia (a cuncordu), Northern Italian Alps (already shown in film – tiìr) and Georgia (Svaneti area), combined with discussion about possibilities in live recording, interviews, position of microphone, single or “multicam” setting, editing, postproduction.

            Proceedings from this symposium will be published by Zhejiang University Press, hopefully with the accompanying audiovisual material at special website. At Business Meeting is announced that next group’s symposium will be held in Lisbon in October 2017 and possibility of video-link participation was suggested from members. At this symposium often arose issues about recording – not so much about technical matters (e.g. narration, camera approach or timing dynamics) as about the ethics at the field. Also, there were debates about assumed audience of particular films, which implies that one of future topics may be “labels” of ethnomusicological films — critical, exhibition, artistic, educative etc. Since video recording is common today, activity of this group will be highly important for our discipline and ethnomusicologists relied primarily on sound dimension will here look for answers – more about methodological approaches and less about fascination with music phenomena.

* This report is written as a part of the project City Sonic Ecologies: Soundscapes of Bern, Ljubljana and Belgrade, funded by the Scientific Co-Operation between Eastern Europe and Switzerland, and realized at the Institute of Musicology SASA (Serbia). Author’s contact: