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Music and Dance Performance: Cross-Cultural Approaches
British Forum for Ethnomusicology, Annual Conference
London, April 2005


Tuesday 12 April - Friday 15 April 2005, SOAS, University of London


The AHRB Research Centre for Cross-Cultural Music and Dance Performance, a
collaborative initiative of SOAS, the University of Surrey and Roehampton
University, is pleased to welcome the 2005 Conference of the British Forum
for Ethnomusicology. The conference will take at SOAS (The School of
Oriental & African Studies) within the University of London, close to the
British Museum and British Library, and many excellent restaurants to suit
all budgets. Accommodation has been reserved at the nearby John Adams
Hall, 15-23 Endsleigh Street; for those wishing to splash out, we can
recommend a number of local hotels.

Our keynote speakers, yet to be confirmed, will most likely come from
Australia and the United States. The conference will include a series of
workshop sessions, an opening reception and the traditional BFE party. We
are also planning a joint session with the AHRB Research Centre for the
History and Analysis of Recorded Music on Friday 15 April.

Our theme reflects the fact that ethnomusicologists and dance
anthropologists are particularly well placed to conduct 'participant
observation', by learning to become performers. Much of the knowledge we
seek to document is held by people who demonstrate expertise in
performance more than in words, and many researchers now explore the
interface of academia and performance, encouraged by the emphasis within
governments and government agencies on the creative industries. As we
explore this interface, we encourage conference papers that consider
connections between music and dance. Running throughout the conference, in
addition to more general sessions, will be a series of symposia dedicated
to specific sub-themes, each lasting between two and three hours. Five
that are already planned are given below, with convenors; these arise from
the Research Centre projects, and if you are interested in participating
in one of these you are invited in the first instance to contact the
convenor. We encourage you to propose additional topics for paper, panel
and workshop sessions which you would like to convene and organise. In
addition to the overall theme, papers are invited that report on 'work in
progress' in other areas of ethnomusicology and dance research.

Abstracts for papers, workshop, and performance proposals

...should be submitted preferably by Email to Keith Howard
(; or SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H
0XG, UK) by 31 December 2004. All abstracts should be sent in the
following format: NAME OF PRESENTER, SPACE, TITLE, SPACE, TEXT (Maximum
length: 200 words).


1. Approaches to the analysis of musical performance
The epistemology of musical analysis in the West has developed almost
exclusively in the context of written scores that represent models for
performance rather than performance itself; what is analysed is normally
the score. How far can Western analytical techniques be applied to music
for which there is no written score? What other approaches may be
possible? How far can an ethnomusicological approach help us to understand
the structure of musical performance in relation to its experience and
meanings? Convenor: Richard Widdess (

2. Ritual and Performance
Within this sub-theme, we want to explore the place of ritual music and
dance in contemporary society. What is the value of ritual music and dance
in local contexts? As ritual is also performed on stage, and as it is
recorded by national and international media, how does it adapt to or
resist social and cultural change? How can liturgical and para-liturgical
performance be integrated into studies of the whole ritual event? When
local practices are marketed as entertainment, who debates issues of
tradition and preservation? Papers are invited that explore these issues
of continuity, preservation and change in the music and dance of ritual.
Convenors: Keith Howard ( and Stephen Jones

3. Transformations in African Music and Dance
Scholars have often looked at traditional culture in Africa as if it is
entirely the product of communal authorship. By doing so, however, the
ongoing creative process that is taking place within many traditions in
contemporary Africa is often neglected. Of particular interest is the
investigation of transformation, both socially, through discourse with
practitioners, and empirically, through transcription and analysis. Papers
are invited that investigate aspects of the creative process in
contemporary African arts (including, but not exclusively, music and
dance). Convenors: Jean Johnson-Jones ( and
James Burns (

4. Performing Indonesian dance and music in transnational contexts
Indonesian dance and music are increasingly performed by both Indonesians
and non-Indonesians in transnational contexts. Indonesian performers are
internationalizing their music and dance, now conceived against a world
backdrop, while simultaneously modern digital technology has impacted on
the dissemination and reception of Indonesian perfomance worldwide.
Performers of Indonesian origin engage in artistic partnerships,
internationally, with non-Indonesians, creating 'traditional' and 'hybrid'
work. They take on, sometimes against their own wishes, the role of
culture bearer or culture representative in extra-local contexts,
embodying Indonesianness, Javaneseness or Balineseness. Papers, workshops
and short performances-in any combination-are invited to explore the
transnationalism of Indonesian dance and music and issues of tradition and
hybridity. Convenors: Alessandra Lopez y Royo ( and
Matthew Cohen (

5. Postcolonial Identity Construction in South Asian Dance and Music
Issues of tradition and transformation within South Asian dance and music
practices inform postcolonial identity formation in the Indian
subcontinent and the UK. The various 'texts' of dance and music practices
and their contexts allow analysis of different versions of identity.
Papers are invited which explore the construction of South Asian
identities and the transformation of dance and music practices in relation
to aesthetics, technique, political and/or social contexts. Convenors:
Andrée Grau (, Stacey Prickett
( and Janet O'Shea (J.O'

Conference Booking form available from:

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