The 8th International Symposium on Traditional Polyphony

International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony of Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire and the International Centre for Georgian Folk Song are pleased to announce that The scholars working on the problems of polyphony are invited to participate in the 8th International Symposium on Traditional Polyphony will be held on 26-30 September, 2016, in Tbilisi, Georgia.

One of the features of the symposium is the diversity of themes, which is allowed by the interdisciplinary character of ethnomusicology.

Official languages of the Symposium are English and Georgian. All the papers will be published after the symposium in both English and Georgian.

Complete information including the history of previous symposia, information on the participants, contents of bilingual books of proceedings with the full texts of all symposium papers and the International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony of Tbilisi State Conservatoire is provided at the Web Site

Topics of the Symposium:
The participants are encouraged to submit abstracts on all aspects of traditional polyphony. The submitted papers will be grouped according to the problems discussed in them and will be presented at the corresponding session. This will allow better to cover the wide range of issues of polyphony. Alongside the traditional themes, we would like to introduce a special new theme for the 8th symposium:

Intercultural Relations, Migrations and Geographical Dynamics of Traditional Polyphony: Past and Present

Migrations played crucial role in cultural interrelations throughout centuries and millennia. From the second half of the 20th century, with the changed socio-cultural and economic circumstances, migration gained new meanings and new forms. New cultural-geographic dynamics was reflected in traditional music as well, so “multiculturality” became one of the chief characteristics of contemporary society. We would like to discuss the need for study and preservation of national minorities and vanishing cultures with small number of people and at the same time to research the ongoing processes related to the changes among the peoples involved in various types of migration.

The other themes are as follows:

1. General Theory and Musical-Aesthetic Aspects of Polyphony
This topic considers wide range of general problems of Polyphony, characteristic of contemporary cultural anthropology.

2. Regional Styles and Musical Language of Traditional polyphony

This theme unites wide range of regional studies of the polyphonic singing styles of huge regions as well as in-depths studies of a small region, ethnic minority, or even a village.

3. Comparative Study of Traditional Polyphony
It is impossible to have a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of traditional polyphony without the comparative approach. We suggest scholars to work on the development of new methodologies in this direction.

4. Sociological Aspects of Traditional Polyphony: Performers and Listeners; Gender, Age, Social Class and the Media

Wide range of topics on different aspects of social life of traditional community is covered under this theme. These problems will be viewed both in contemporary life and from the historical perspectives.

5. Polyphony in Secular and Sacred Music

Interaction between traditional polyphony and early forms of professional polyphony in various European countries are the main topics of this theme, although the papers dedicated to other regions and time span are also welcome.

6. Traditional Instrumental Polyphony

Although the central topic of the symposium is vocal polyphony, different aspects of the interaction of vocal and instrumental polyphony might be discussed under this theme.
7. Traditional Polyphony and Traditional Dance
In many cultures singing and dancing are intimately connected. Dance is particularly closely related to specific dance forms (for example, round dance), affecting each other’s rhythmic, and emotional development.
8. Polyphony and Monophony: Is There Border Between Them?
Let us discuss what we mean under the terms “Polyphony” and “Monophony”. Is unison and heterophonic singing, or overtone singing polyphony or monophony? Are there any “purely polyphonic” or “purely monophonic” cultures in the world?
9. Historical Sources of Polyphony
From Sumerian and Hurrian hymns to the Medieval European manuscripts and later, polyphony represents an important part of historical sources about music of different epochs and different regions. What do we learn from these sources?
10. Traditional Polyphony and Popular Musical Genres
We suggest discussing the “long and winding road” from traditional forms of polyphonic singing to the “Europeanized” forms of contemporary urban polyphonic singing traditions and the polyphony in contemporary pop- and rock- music.
11. Is Polyphonic Singing Uniquely Human Phenomenon? – Duet Singing and Choruses in Animal Societies
Some animal species (ranging from whales and apes to birds) use interesting forms of duet singing and choruses in their social life. Could the studies of animal duets and choruses provide an evolutionary model for our understanding of the origins of human polyphony?
12. World Music and Traditional Polyphony “World Music” expresses the aspiration towards the harmonization of different cultures. The idea of “Global Village” testimonies the universal character of music. Interested people study traditional singing at local places; traditional singers are invited to teach in other countries. What is lost or gained in this process?

Round table: “Forms, Structural Types, and Cartography of Traditional Polyphony”

Our gradually increasing knowledge of the polyphonic forms and structural types from various regions of the world gives us an opportunity to create elaborated cartographic representation of polyphony distribution of polyphony in its worldwide complexity. Participants of the symposium will receive several maps of polyphony at the opening of the symposium for critical discussion during the round table. We are expecting symposium participants to discuss the ways to improve these maps, primarily by bringing their unique personal experience to the common pool of knowledge. We will appreciate if our guests contribute to the discussion by bringing other (existing or new) maps of polyphonic traditions of various regions of the world.

Contact Information for Symposium Participants
Prof. Rusudan Tsurtsumia, E-mail:
Dr. Joseph Jordania, E-mail:

Abstracts and CVs
Abstracts and short CVs – both texts no more than 150 words – should be e-mailed before April 15, 2016.

The Program Committee encourages the submission of individual, panel, poster and roundtable proposals:
 Individual paper will be allotted up to 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes for questions and discussion;
 Panel presentation includes two or three papers, 20 minutes each, followed by 10 minutes discussion;
 The poster presenters will be allotted 7 minutes for presentation in the Power point format and 3 minutes for discussion by sending previously the paper in the required format to be placed on the board.

 About 2-hour-long Round table session includes not more than four presenters (10 minutes each). The audience is encouraged to participate in the discussion.

The deadline for submitting the full texts of a paper (maximum 7 pages: font size 12, with 1.5 spacing) with the consideration of the time for translation is 30 May, 2014.

Program Committee
Dr. Rusudan Tsurtsumia (Georgia)
Dr. Joseph Jordania (Australia/Georgia)
Dr. Izaly Zemtsovsky (USA/Russia)
Prof. Anzor Erqomaishvili (Georgia)
Dr. Nino Tsitsishvili (Australia/Georgia)
Dr. Daiva Rachiunaite-Vichiniene (Lithuania)
Dr. Maka Khardziani (Georgia)


On-line conformation of Acceptance: 15 November, 2015 (click here: confirmation)
On-line registration for participation and deadline for Abstracts and CVs: 15 April, 2016 (The link for registration will be uploaded after 15 November, 2015) Notification of the Acceptance: 25 April, 2016 Deadline for submission of full text of papers: 30 May, 2016

Symposium registration fee is 80 USD (for students – 30 USD).

Accommodation, local transportation, food

Arrival – 25 September
Departure – 1 October

All the cost of accommodation, meals and local transportation throughout the stay in Georgia, including the transfer Tbilisi International Airport –hotel- Tbilisi International Airport will be borne by the Organizing Committee of the Symposium.

Cultural Program
The Organizing Committee of the Symposium plans a day of cultural program for the Symposium participants. Cultural program includes visiting a traditional village in one of Georgia’s regions.
The Tbilisi International Symposium is not only a scholarly discussion of the problems of folk multi-part singing, but is accompanied by a wide spectrum of polyphonic music from Georgia and elsewhere. We expect that, as always, a number of ensembles from around the world will present polyphonic singing during the symposium.

Weather in Georgia
Georgia has mild climate, similar to Mediterranean countries. September is a pleasant month with warm days and fresh nights.

Pre-Symposium Trip to Mountains
During past several symposiums a new informal tradition was established. A group of foreign singers of Georgian songs, together with scholars, visit Svaneti – one of Georgia’s mountainous regions. They live in the families of traditional singers for several days, learn traditional polyphonic songs and visit the sights of Svaneti. In 2016 this will be an 11-daytrip and apart from visiting Svaneti will include a visit to Samegrelo – another West Georgian region.
If you have time and are interested to take part in this pre-symposium trip, please let us know about your interest. The group will be leaving Tbilisi early morning on September 13, and will be back to Tbilisi in the evening September 24 (symposium starts on September 26) The fee for the entire trip is 550 USD per person (the fee includes transportation, accommodation, food, workshops with traditional singers, visits to glaciers and museums). Participants will need hiking boots and warm cloths. The pre-symposium trip is organized by Joseph Jordania (see his email above).