Bridging Musicology and Composition: The Global Significance of Bartók’s Method A Symposium and Festival

Bridging Musicology and Composition: The Global Significance of Bartók’s Method A Symposium and Festival


Taking place at Churchill College, Cambridge, England. From 12 to 14 August, 2010. Organized by the Centre for Intercultural Musicology at Churchill College (CIMACC)), under the direction of Professor Akin Euba.


Keynote speaker

Prof. Dr. Laszlo Vikarius Director, Bartók Archive, Budapest, Hungary


For further details, and to register for the conference, please go to:


Symposium Information What is Bartók’s Method? Bartók never admitted to having a pre-conceived theory when he composed, yet there was a clear method that guided his whole approach to composition, a method that is probably more widespread than is acknowledged in the Western academy. Bartók’s preeminence as an exemplar of this method makes him the leader of a school of composition whose significance is probably global. This method is what we describe as bridging musicology and composition. In other words a composer does research and then uses the results of this research in composition or, as in the case of Bartók, bases his or her idiom on the results of the research. Euba has described this process as creative musicology. The process of research in creative musicology and scholarly musicology are practically the same and in fact, Bartók advocates that composers should do field work, an activity normally associated with ethnomusicologists. What is different is that composers use the results of their research as the basis of composition, while scholarly musicologists use them as the basis of speech discourse, e.g. to write a book or an essay or to give a lecture.


Sub-themes For those who would like more variety in their thematic engagement with this event, we would like to suggest two sub-themes whose connection with the main theme may not be so apparent. Orality is normally associated with folk and traditional music but is a process that is common in many music cultures all over the world and is in fact a unifying element in these cultures. Although orality is not normally considered as a technique of composition, it plays this role in many cultures. Whatever information participants in this symposium present about orality would most likely have been obtained from research and this places the topic within the area of the main theme. Those interested in orality may wish to consider the following sub-themes. 1. Orality as a technique of composition. 2. Exploring orality in modern creative processes.


Format Instead of formal papers the symposium section of this event will consist of discussion sessions led by composers or scholars or those who practice dually as composers and scholars. Discussion sessions may also be led by performers. Although formal papers are not required, discussion leaders may, if they wish, present papers as a way of introducing their sessions. Please note that the discussion format that we envisage is one in which the leader of a session engages the whole audience. In other words, a session is neither a panel discussion nor a roundtable but a discussion in which the whole audience is involved. In this way a discussion session resembles the Q&A section of the usual paper session. We would like to further encourage discussion leaders to present papers if they so wish, by saying that we plan to publish proceedings of this event and that all written documents generated by the event will be considered for inclusion in the published proceedings. Another advantage in preparing a paper is of course that this would facilitate obtaining a grant to attend the event. In addition to discussion sessions the event will also include live concerts, which feature the works of Bartók and other compositions based on information derived from research done by their composers. It should by now be clear that composers who are deemed to have used Bartók’s method are those who have done their own research and analysis and not simply used information supplied by others.