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27th European Seminar in Ethnomusicology
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9/15/2011 to 9/19/2011
When: 9/15/2011
Where: Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen
Contact: Ian Russell
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ESEM XXVII: Taking Part

The twenty-seventh European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (ESEM) will take place from 15 to 19 September 2011 in Aberdeen, Scotland (UK), hosted by the Elphinstone Institute of the University of Aberdeen.

Conference Theme

‘Taking Part’ is an aspect of music making in most cultures. This conference will focus on the theme of participation, investigating performance from many different perspectives – ethnological, sociological, psychological, cosmological, as well as musical – and consider communities, groups, families, and individuals in their roles as music makers. While we need to analyse what exactly is going on musicologically within a performance, we also need to examine what is going on emotionally, physiologically, and aesthetically, for the participants, to get to the core of meaning and function. An obvious case study in the UK might be the growing phenomenon of community/folk choirs. By adopting an ethnographic approach the researcher comes to understand their role and performance milieux, how the music is made, what characterises it, and how individuals express their identity through the choirs.

Sessions will be built around themes, with presentations grouped as far as possible in ways that facilitate discussion and debate. The following list of themes and topics is indicative only:

Organisational structures, hierarchies
Inclusivity, exclusivity, elitism
Tradition, heritage, revitalisation, innovation
Place, landscape, soundscape
Authenticity, conventions
Local, regional, national identities
Musical interaction
Experience and sentience of participation

Free Papers

We will also consider including selected free papers in order to allow dissemination of important recent achievements in the field. However, abstracts related to the main theme will have priority.

The John Blacking Memorial Lecture – a regular feature of ESEM meetings – will be presented by Professor Anthony Seeger, University of California at Los Angeles.


ESEM is a seminar rather than a conference: we host collegial meetings open to researchers from all over the world in which participants can gather to share ideas and discuss recent work in ethnomusicology in an informal setting. In order to do this, we may need to limit the number of paper presentations (which must not exceed 20 minutes in length), but nonetheless we do all we can to support those who wish to attend. We welcome proposals for complete panels (of up to 90 minutes). We shall also consider the presentation of research in the form of posters and a limited number of evening video projections.

Proposals should be submitted in the form of a 300-word abstract by email, in an attachment including your full name and contact details, to conference organiser Ian Russell at by 17 March 2011.

A draft programme will be announced in April 2011 and conference registration will open.

Programme committee
Martin Clayton (Durham University)
Ursula Hemetek (University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna)
Ian Russell (University of Aberdeen)

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