Towards the Origin of Music. Myths, Legends, and Historiographies in Interdisciplinary Discourses

Symposium, University of Berne, Switzerland Institute of Musicology, 19th&20th November 2015

Call for Papers (deadline for proposals: 31st July 2015)

„The origin of music is obscure“ (Bruno Nettl). Hitherto, thinking about the beginning of music and its representation occurred only sporadically – , especially in the context of myth and religion – and here mostly with sober perplexity. Strikingly, stories about the origin of music in history arise where different developments of music take place, namely as a way of thinking about stylistic shifts and changes, which are often drastically described as “the rise and fall” of certain musical directions. But what do these myths, legends and stories tell about our relation to music in the past and present? The symposium seeks to reflect about the origin of music by focusing in particular on the spectrum of general art mythology, inside and outside of European contexts: The comparisons to other arts, on a structural level, would open the scope to picture these questions in other disciplines. In addition to all the scientific and non-scientific theories, artistic representations, which have a special appeal on the subject, shall be considered as well: e.g. as subjects in operas and oratorios, carved in stone, on canvas and “al fresco” or as a priority issue of Romantic literature. The range of topics is broad, and therefore also capable for a stimulating interdisciplinary dialogue. Thus, the symposium offers a forum for disciplinary and interdisciplinary research projects (especially on doc or post-doc level) located at the boundaries of Art History, History of Science, Literature Studies, Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and (Ethno-)Musicology. These fields of research are largely devoted to the subject of music or the origin of the arts and seek for – or are in need of – a substantive and methodological dialogue. The main focus may be located in historiographically and/or artistically representations of the origin of music and/or the arts: myths and legends of origins in the historiographies of ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary times; historicity, philosophy of history, narratives of “emancipation”; collisions at the end of myths and supposedly new beginnings…

The symposium is organised by the Institute of Musicology at the University of Berne. Keynotes and responses will be provided by researchers, who are known for their interdisciplinary competence (Prof. Franz Körndle, Dr. des. Dominik von Roth, Prof. Michela Garda, Prof. Joachim Kremer). Please note: The conference languages are German and English. Arrival day shall be the 18th November 2015; travel expenses (Europe) and accommodations (2 nights) will be fully covered; the publication of conference proceedings are sought. Proposals for papers in English or German (max. 500 words) must be submitted by 31st July 2015 via e‐mail to or (Authors will be notified about acceptance of submissions by 14.8.2015).