International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

Mediterranean Music Study group 30 years Commemoration

Dear friends and colleagues from the Mediterranean Music Studies Group,

In 1993, the ICTM formally recognized the study group known today as Mediterranean Music Studies Group, founded by Tullia Magrini at a 1992 conference organized by the ICTM Italian Committee with the support of the Fondazione Olga e Ugo Levi in Venice. The group which was a confluence of ethnomusicologists, historical musicologists and anthropologists was originally known as Anthropology of Music in Mediterranean Cultures.  To commemorate this milestone, which coincides precisely with a moment of change within the executive, incoming Chair Vanessa Paloma Elbaz and Vice-Chair, Salvatore Morra are delighted to mark it with an online gathering with the participation of some of the founding and early members of the study group. The meeting will take place on zoom (on 23 January 2024 between 17:00-19:00 GMT). Open to current and former study group members, as well as to the wider ICTMD community, the gathering is an opportunity to trace the development of the study of the music of the Mediterranean and new directions in the scholarly conversation that members can glean from the last thirty years. 

 The commemoration will include participation from the following distinguished members from the first meetings of the Study Group, organized by the late Tullia Magrini in Venice: Philip Bohlman, Salwa el-Shawan Castelo Branco (former ICTMD President, 2014-2021), Ruth Davis (former Study Group Chair, 2014-2023), Svanibor Pettan (ICTMD current President), Donatella Restani, Marcello Sorce-Keller (former Study Group Chair, 2007-2014), Domenico Staiti, and Martin Stokes.


Topic: ICTMD Mediterranean Music Study Group 30th Commemoration 

Time: Jan 23, 2024 05:00-07:00 GMT

Please email to to receive the zoom link.   


In preparation for the meeting, we include an English translation of a section from the preface of Antropologia della musica nelle culture mediterranee: interpretazione, performance, identità : alla memoria di Tullia MagriniPhilip V. Bohlman, Marcello Sorce Keller and Loris Azzaroni (eds.), Bologna, Edizioni Clueb – Cooperativa Libraria Universitaria Editrice, 2009, which explains the significance of Tullia Magrini’s contribution and the importance of the Study Group: 

We arrive, then, at the Mediterranean. I see the development of her Mediterranean interests as part of the growth process I have just sketched, naturally leading to her founding, in 1992, of the Study Group of the International Council for Traditional Music concerned with the “Anthropology of Music in Mediterranean Cultures.” Establishing the Study Group was very timely, and it produced a turning point of sorts. By 2007 the Study Group had met seven times in Venice, sponsored and supported by the Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi. Ruth Davis recently pointed out in a personal communication that, before it existed, scholars active in this area had no acute sense of how their work might be seen as complementary: Some thought of themselves as Middle Eastern or Arab-music specialists; others as specialists of the Balkan, Greece, and so on. As a result, publications devoted to music of the Mediterranean began to appear, some by Tullia herself, but not exclusively so (e.g., Magrini 1992c; Cooper and Dawe 2005). In recent years, moreover, the number of centers for Mediterranean studies in general has proliferated. Tullia’s idea of the Mediterranean is quite intriguing indeed. She no longer looked at it from the point of view of global history, as Fernand Braudel had done, or as a culture-area or a set of culture areas, as the Oxford school of social anthropology had tended to do (e.g., Radcliffe[1]Brown and Evans-Pritchard). Her position vis-à-vis the Mediterranean reformulated the basic problem: [T]he Mediterranean . . . represents better than others a place in which one encounters countless diversities, and . . . it enables us to observe the ways in which these diversities manage to coexist, ignore each other, know each other, come into conflict, or blend. (Magrini 1999: 174–75) 2 Mediterranean Studies Association, supported by the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; the University of Kansas, Mediterranean Studies: Journal of the Mediterranean Studies Association; the Canadian Institute of Mediterranean Studies; Mediterranean Institute, University of Malta; Centre for Mediterranean and Black Sea Studies, Melbourne; Centro di Studi Mediterranei, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano; Research Group on Gender, Interculturality and Mediterranean Studies (GIEM), Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona (Spain, Catalonia). By looking at the Mediterranean as a kind of battleground from which culture patterns emerge from peaceful exchanges as much as from conflict and rejection, Tullia went on to suggest that it would be worth using the term “Mediterranean Music” in the strict sense only for those musical phenomena that have their roots in the contact and contamination between cultural realities which actually come from different parts of the Mediterranean. (ibid.: 175) It might be productive to look at the Mediterranean as, possibly, the most problematic interaction area on earth. Tullia was quite right to believe that the Mediterranean is to be studied anthropologically and, at the same time, be regarded as an allegory for the most intricate forms of exchange, rejection, and conflict. The Mediterranean, thus conceived, becomes a powerful metaphor for the study of musical processes at their greatest thickness and turbulence. Regardless of where in the world we discover a pattern of musical interaction, I should like to see whether anything comparable exists in the Mediterranean, and I should be surprised if it did not. This would be another way of saying that, in ethnomusicology, we all are to a greater or lesser degree already engaged in Mediterranean Studies. In other words, there is more to Tullia’s legacy than her contributions to the scholarly literature. A no less important part of her legacy are her endeavors that, by their very nature, remain works in progress. Surely the Study Group and the journal Music and Anthropology are cases in point. The journal is a pioneering web publication that makes possible the publication of audiovisual material, and which was born in symbiosis with the Study Group. Her publications, I believe, will retain their importance for the field of ethnomusicology. The Study Group and the journal will surely grow and transform themselves in order to answer to new needs. And that is as it should be. Tullia, like all those who initiate something new, was never a traditionally-minded person, and she was herself quite ready to innovate and move forward. 


The program of the first official gathering under its new ICTM Study Group status and the report are attached for your perusal.