ICTM Study Group for Applied Ethnomusicology

By Usner, Eric | Bulletin of the International Council for Traditional Music, April 2009 | Go to article overview

ICTM Study Group for Applied Ethnomusicology


Usner, Eric, Bulletin of the International Council for Traditional Music


Historical And Emerging Approaches To Applied Ethnomusicology

1st Biannual Meeting Report

The first meeting of the ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology was held at the Slovene Ethnographic Museum in Ljubljana, Slovenia 9.-13. July 2008. The meeting was hosted by Svanibor Pettan, on behalf of the Slovene National Committee of the ICTM, Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana, and four other institutions and associations. Over four days, forty people representing sixteen countries from all continents shared their experiences and perspectives on applied ethnomusicology in a variety of contexts. The program was based on the three principal themes: (1) History of the Idea and Understanding of Applied Ethnomusicology in World-Wide Contexts, (2) Presentation and Evaluation of Individual Projects - with Emphasis on Theory and Method, and (3) Applied Ethnomusicology in Situations of Conflict.

Anthony Seeger (USA) delivered the keynote, challenging ethnomusicologists to consider the choice they have: if/how their work should have an applied component and aim for larger social impact. He also cautioned that research on music and dance is important in its own right and need not be done with an immediate "applied" aim in mind.

In addition to individual papers and organized panels, "Talking Circles," an efficient format for group dialogue inspired by Native American traditions, was introduced by Klisala Harrison. The first day there was a general talking circle in which all participants introduced themselves and shared their ideas on applied ethnomusicology. In subsequent days, attendees joined and remained with one of three circles for lengthy afternoon discussion covering three concerns running through the papers of the meeting: (1) "Threatened Music, Threatened Communities: Ethnomusicology's Responses and Responsibilities to Endangered Music Cultures;" (2) "Applied Ethnomusicology Approaches to Music Therapy and Healing;" and (3) "Theorizing Music's Role in Conflict and Peacemaking." A large talking circle was re-assembled the final day of the conference and we heard reports back on the work of each circle. Talking Circle Reports are available on the ICTM's web page for the Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology.

The meeting made abundantly clear the wide variety of approaches to applied ethnomusicology. …

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