The Multivalent Voice in Transcultural Music-making

Call for Papers:

The Multivalent Voice in Transcultural Music-Making

Istanbul Technical University, 11-13 April 2019

An international conference hosted by the Dr Erol Üçer Centre for Advanced Studies in Music, Istanbul Technical University (ITU MIAM), in partnership with the European Research Council-funded project ‘Beyond East and West: Developing and Documenting an Evolving Transcultural Musical Practice.’

Voice, ‘the original instrument’ (Joan La Barbara, 1976), has served as a bedrock and conduit for music, language, and thought.  Indeed, the human voice is so fundamental to our experience that we even process instrumental music via systems related to vocal production.  Voices, conceived here in the plural, serve not only as the grist for musical and semantic discourse, but also act as central channels for the exchange of ideas and musics across cultures.

Cosmopolitan Istanbul provides the ideal setting for focusing on vibrant intersections of Eurogenetic art music with tradition-based genres of contemporary Turkey, Asia, and North Africa.  In twenty-first century music, increasing numbers of practitioners are making conscious efforts to cross cultural boundaries by engaging in processes of mixing, collaborating, protecting, negotiating, and creating new music that draws inspiration from various traditions.  By facilitating free exchange amongst a diverse gathering of composers, ethnomusicologists, musicologists, performers, and theorists, we hope to attain deeper insights into ‘voices’ and their centrality in key questions of identity, aesthetics, and usage in inter- and trans-cultural music making.

We invite proposals for papers (20 minutes), lecture/performance demonstrations (30 minutes), workshops (30 or 50 minutes), audiovisual work (up to 20 minutes), or panel sessions (90 minutes including discussion) that focus on transcultural music in relation to both physical and metaphysical voices, addressing mixtures related to maqam, raga, and other art traditions, as well as ‘folk,’ ‘traditional,’ and ‘low-technology’ musics.  Topics related to the following concerns are especially encouraged:

  • Practical demonstrations of creative methodologies for transcultural music-making
  • Vocal mimesis
  • Analyses of microsound and nuance in vocal and instrumental music, including:
    • Timbre, ornamentation, voice production, tuning (e.g. Anatolian gırtlak, süslemelerçarpma)
    • Vocal staging and digital voice processing
  • Improvisation and collective composition
  • Intercultural uses of notation, transcription, and arrangement
  • Voice(s) and migration
  • Musics associated with pastoralist (e.g. Yörük) and peripatetic (e.g. Abdal) groups
  • Technology and embodiment
  • Aesthetics, affect, and spiritualities
  • Ethical and political concerns
  • The singing voice in relation to concepts such as ethnicity, gender, and identity
  • The composer’s voice
  • Presence and authenticity in voicing
  • Individual/collective relationships.

Languages of the conference (and for abstracts): English and Turkish.

Deadline: Please send a 250-word abstract to Argun Çakır – – with the subject heading ‘Multivalent Voice-Abstract,’ by 30 September 2018, indicating the format of your proposal.  Abstracts for panel sessions should be 250 words for each contributor, as well as a panel description of 100 words.  We will announce acceptances by 1 November 2018.

Keynote speakers:

  • Sandeep Bhagwati, composer, Professor of Music, Concordia University, Montreal
  • Nina Eidsheim, Professor of Musicology, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Denise Gill, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, and of Islam & the Arts, Stanford University.

Programme committee:  Prof. Amanda Bayley, Bath Spa University; Dr. Robert Oliver Beahrs, Istanbul Technical University (ITU);  Argun Çakır, University of Bristol; Assoc. Prof. Tolgahan Çoğulu, ITU; Dr. Michael Ellison, University of Bristol; Assoc. Prof. Yelda Özgen Öztürk, ITU; Assoc. Prof. Robert F. Reigle; Dr. Will Sumits, ITU; Assoc. Prof. E. Şirin Özgün Tanır, ITU; Dr. Paul A. Whitehead, ITU; Dr. Jeremy Woodruff, ITU.


Conference fee:  Full conference, 3 days: 60Euros (375-Turkish Lira); 2 days: 45E (250-TL); 1 day: 25E (125-TL).  Free for students, both international and local.

We gratefully acknowledge funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant no. 648810), and Istanbul Technical University, Dr. Erol Üçer Centre for Advanced Studies in Music (ITU MIAM).