Transformations of Musical Creativity in the 21st Century

Transformations of Musical Creativity in the 21st Century

A Conference of the Transtraditional Istanbul (TTI) Project

June 24-27, 2021 (Online with Live-streamed Concerts from Istanbul)

Call for Proposals:

Research papers, performances, compositions, practice-based workshops, media projects

With increasing intensity, global institutions of music pedagogy seek to redress a fraught legacy of Eurocentrism. The dominance of ‘Eurological’ or ‘Eurogenetic’ paradigms in university music curricula has worked to create a possessive investment by musical schools in particular canons, traditions, and pedagogies (Lewis 1996, Reigle 2014, Kajikawa 2019, Ewell 2019, Brown 2020). In many countries across Eurasia, institutional actors created new hegemonies based on folk and regional musics alongside European art music. Music specialists often find themselves complicit in disconnecting or excluding contributions of musicians and non-hegemonic musical knowledge from centers of music teaching and learning.

In an effort to rethink how we learn, teach, and practice music, this conference seeks to assemble a diverse gathering of musicians, researchers, and educators in order to share knowledge about transformations and transmission of musical creativity in the 21st century. With the Transtraditional Istanbul Project, we join a global network of practitioners in redressing critical issues such as a history of compositional resourcing of Indigenous and ‘local’ music cultures, the tokenisation of diversity in ‘world music’ programs, and the erasure of the histories and experiences of minoritised musicians and educators (Ahmed 2012, Robinson 2020). We hope to advance a global exchange about how to redefine the structures of inclusion in music transmission ‘with, by and for — not only ‘on or about — minoritised musicians (Bissett Perea and Solis 2019), while respecting that certain communities may place limits on the knowledge that can be shared in the academy.

The conference aims to reevaluate modes of music transmission and reimagine processes of creation in today’s changing musical landscapes. For example, we invite proposals on the following topics:

  • Challenging dominant ideologies of musical learning and transmission
  • Modes of transmission in oral/aural practices (face-to-face, embedded learning, linguistic models) and dynamic interactions among these modes
  • The various uses of representational tools (notation, video, haptic technologies) in transmission
  • The transformative influences of institutions on music teaching, learning, and performance
  • The growing impact of recording and online technologies on practices of listening and learning within various music traditions
  • Listening, composing, performing across difference
  • The influences of ‘rural’ sound worlds on individual creative practices today
  • The transformation of musical creativity in transcultural creative encounters
  • And related to ongoing research in the TTI project:
    • Women’s throat songs (boğaz havaları) and teke zortlatması from the Teke region in southern Turkey
    • Bozlak from central and southern Turkey
    • Musical practices using environmental or nonhuman sounds

The Transtraditional Istanbul project has the mission to create a more equitable and plural global musical exchange through inclusive performance, interdisciplinary research, public engagement, and cross-cultural teaching and learning. We are inspired by the rich cosmopolitan history of musical encounters and exchanges in Istanbul, and invite proposals from musical practices and traditions connected with Anatolia, the Mediterranean, Eurasia, and beyond. The conference will take place via online presentations, with performances streamed online from Istanbul, Covid-19 permitting.

Format: We invite proposals for research papers (20 minutes), lecture/performance demonstrations (20-30 minutes), workshops (30-50 minutes), compositions or media projects (up to 20 minutes), or panel sessions (up to 70 minutes including discussion)

Submission and deadline: Please use the link here to submit a 250-word abstract ( by 10 February 2021, indicating the format of your proposal (including expected duration and online implementation plan) along with links to relevant work samples for performances, compositions, and media projects. We welcome proposals for presentations in languages other than English, provided they include an English translation. Presentations can be streamed as live video during the conference (in English) or pre-recorded as a video (in any language, with English subtitles produced by the presenter). We will announce acceptances by 15 March 2021.

Keynote speakers

Programme committee: Asst. Prof. Mustafa Avcı, Altınbaş University; Dr. Robert O. Beahrs, MİAM/İTÜ; Argun Çakır, University of Bristol; Prof. Michael Ellison, University of Bristol; Assoc. Prof. Evrim Hikmet Öğüt, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University; Assoc. Prof. Yelda Özgen Öztürk, MİAM/İTÜ; Assoc. Prof. E. Şirin Özgün Tanır, MİAM/İTÜ; Yingying Wen, University of Bristol.


Partnership organizations of Transtraditional Istanbul (TTI)

Center for Advanced Studies in Music – MIAM (Istanbul Technical University)

Turkish Music State Conservatory – 

TMDK (Istanbul Technical University)

University of Bristol 

Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts 

Music for Peace Foundation (Istanbul) 

Transtraditional Istanbul is funded by the Newton Fund UK-Turkey Creative Industries Research Networking Awards Programme, with grant awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and İstanbul Kalkınma Ajansı (Istanbul Development Agency). 


Ahmed, Sara. 2012. On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Brown, Danielle. 2020. “An Open Letter on Racism in Music Studies.” (Accessed 15 November 2020)

Ewell, Philip. A. 2020. “Music Theory and the White Racial Frame.” Music Theory Online, 26(2).

Kajikawa, Loren. 2019. “The Possessive Investment in Classical Music.” In Seeing Race Again: Countering Colorblindness Across the Disciplines, ed. Crenshaw, Kimberlé, et al. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Lewis, George. E. 1996. “Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives.” Black Music Research Journal, 16(1).

Reigle, Robert. 2014. “Reconsidering the Idea of Timbre: A Brief History and New Proposals.” In MusiCult ’14: Music and Cultural Studies Conference. Istanbul: DAKAM [Eastern Mediterranean Academic Research Center].

Robinson, Dylan. 2020. Hungry Listening: Resonance Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Solis, G., & Bissett Perea, J. (Eds.) (2019). “Music, Indigeneity, and Colonialism in the Americas.” Journal of the Society for American Music, 13(4).

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).