International Conference Sacralization of the Profane and Profanation of the Sacred Music as a Means and an Object

June 5-7, 2013

Ljubljana, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts

Call for Papers
The Department of Musicology of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana is herewith inviting potential participants to propose contributions to the symposium Sacralization of the Profane and Profanation of the Sacred: Music as a Means and an Object.

“Sacred” – the word comes from the Lat. “sacer” (holy, ordained) – has accompanied the human species from its beginning. Almost simultaneously with the development of the initial, more advanced technologies which ensured man greater success in bis chances of survival, in settling the world and reaching for the skies, he also began to discover the mysteries of the spiritual world. On this voyage, music was his inseparable companion. Through its powerful, and at the same time evasively explicable impact on man’s spirituality, music for millennia remained intrinsically linked with everything that exceeded the trivialities of the material world. For hunter-gatherer communities it was the path to achieving states of altered consciousness in which they became one with the mysterious world of natural forces. For- organized religions of all periods it was the language of gods or a symbolic tool with which hymns and supplications of the faithful transcended everyday life. For many listeners of the 19th and 20th century it represented a saint- or godlike idiom of a Kunstreligion, then in statu nascendi, or a holy symbol of a collective identity.

Simultaneously with the growing importance of the sacred in man’s experience of the world, the so-called “profane” also became more and more prominent, i.e. everything that remained excluded from the sphere of the holy. However, even the profane did not stay completely deprived of the mysterious power of music. From old it accompanied man’s everyday life: soothing the strains of hardship and toil, being a means of emotional expression as well as a source of uncurbed, egotistically oriented pleasure.
The ambivalence of music throughout the centuries has repeatedly prompted efforts of redefining its symbolic role in the field of the sacred and the profane. All cultures have kept a vigilant eye on the role and image of music in liturgy, which was at the same time over and over again exposed to endeavours to express the contents of sacred through the symbolic vocabulary of its profane counterpart. On the other hand, many a time sacred music itself represented the key source of symbols used for denoting the sacred character of previously quite profane cultural elements.

Contributions, focused on observing the embeddedness of music in the above-sketched field of tension between the sacred and the profane, could throw light upon:

  •  processes of forming and preserving compositional practices typical of “sacred” music in various cultures and historical periods, as well as social, political, economic and spiritual factors behind them;
  •  processes of “profane” elements trespassing on areas of’ “sacred” music and its dynamics in various cultures and historical periods;
  •  ways of characterizing the “sacred” in “profane” music and their context;
  •  processes of sacralising the profane in the 19th and 20th century, as e.g. in the phenomenon of a Kunstreligion or in the special role of music in the symbolics of contemporary national states;
  •  the “sacred” and the “profane” in folk music of different cultures;
  •  the possible existence of global and supertemporal symbols presenting the “sacred” and the “profane”;
  •  other questions concerning the “sacredness” and “profanity” of music.

Official languages of the symposium are Slovene, English, and German. Presentation time for each paper should not exceed 20 minutes. Authors are kindly asked to send their summary (300-400 words), together with a short biography and e-mail address, to by January. 1, 2013 (receipt will be confirmed by e-mail). Offers will be reviewed by the Symposium Committee which, in turn, will notify each author of their decision by February 1, 2013. Contributions accepted are to be published in our periodical Musicological Annual.

Programme Committee:
Full Prof. Matjaž Barbo, PhD (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Marcel Coboussen, PhD (University of Leiden, Netherlands)
Assoc. Prof. Dalibor Davidović, PhD (University of Zagreb, Croatia)
Assoc. Prof. Thomas Hochradner, PhD (University Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria)
Full Prof. Helmut Loos, PhD (University of Leipzig, Germany)
Assist. Prof. Aleš Nagode, PhD (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Full Prof. Svanibor Pettan, PhD (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Assist. Prof. Gregor Pompe, PhD (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Full Prof. Nico Schüler, PhD (Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, USA)
Full Prof. Leon Stefanija, PhD (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Assoc. Prof. Jernej Weiss, PhD (University of Maribor, Slovenia)

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