Welcome from Simon McKerrell, Chair of the BFE

The British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE) aims to advance the study of musical life in its full richness and diversity.

We provide a forum for engaging in debate and sharing the findings of research through our many conferences and study days and through the publication of our journal Ethnomusicology Forum, in association with Routledge.

We offer awards to recognize outstanding scholarship, including the BFE Book Prize and grants and prizes for student members.

If you would like to keep in touch with BFE news, activities and events please join our email list and follow our social media site

Membership is open to anyone interested in the study of music and dance from all parts of the world. If you are interested in becoming a BFE member please click here for information about the benefits of membership.

Thanks for visiting our website and please contact us if you would like to know more. 


Thursday evening reception at the 2017 BFE Annual Conference in Sheffield (photo by Kate Walker)


British Forum for Ethnomusicology News

The draft programme for the BFE One-Day Conference 2018 at Keele University is now available to view and download from the BFE website conference page (here) and from the BFE One-Day Conference 2018 website (here). Registration is open, and bookings can be made through the Keele University website estore using the link provided below:


We look forward to welcoming you to Keele!



The Call for Proposals for the upcoming 2019 BFE / RMA Research Students’ Conference, which will be hosted by the University of Sheffield, is now available. Click on the following link to the conference web page for further details:


The BFE / RMA Research Students’ Conference is sponsored jointly by the British Forum for Ethnomusicology and the Royal Musical Association. Open to postgraduates studying in the UK or abroad, the conference provides an opportunity for research students to meet together in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, to gain experience of the conference environment (as listeners, participants, and chairs), to present and to hear papers, to take part in workshops, and to gain insights into the profession. Each year, the programme includes skills training sessions, student papers, composition and performance workshops, concerts, and social events. We hope to see many of you there!



The Call For Papers is now open for the 2018 BFE/RMA Study Day, to be held on 8th December at the University of Oxford. The topic of this conference will be ‘Music and the Internet’. Proposals are invited for papers of 20-minutes, which will each be followed by 10 minutes of discussion. The keynote address will be given by Professor Georgina Born and the day will conclude with a roundtable on digital research methodologies. We particularly welcome papers by graduate students and early career researchers. For more details, click on the following link: https://bfe.org.uk/conf/bferma-study-day-2018-oxford



The Call for Papers is now available for the BFE Annual Conference 2019, to be held at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, Scotland from 11-14 April 2019. Click on the link below to view the CfP:


The 2019 conference theme will be Collaborative Ethnomusicology. As with all BFE Annual Conferences, we welcome papers and panels on any aspect of current ethnomusicological research. DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS 14 SEPTEMBER 2018. Successful applicants will be notified in October. Please note that all presenters must be members of the BFE ( https://bfe.org.uk/join-bfe). We look forward to seeing you there!



“Queerness, Voice, Embodiment”

2nd Symposium of the LGBTQ+ Music Study Group

20th-21st April 2018, Maynooth University


Symposium Report by Thomas Hilder


The symposium “Queerness, Voice, Embodiment” took place from 20th to 21st April 2018 at Maynooth University, Ireland. It was the second annual symposium of the LGBTQ+ Music Study Group, an organization established in 2016 to bring together scholars of different disciplinary and sub-disciplinary backgrounds interested in music, gender and sexuality. In line with the Study Group’s ethos, the event set out to elicit current queer and feminist perspectives on musical performance, particularly the voice, with a desire to nurture approaches informed by notions of embodiment, theories of intersectionality, and critiques of neoliberalism. Through a range of formats – including a keynote lecture, roundtable discussions, presentations, and invited themed panels – the symposium raised broader issues of local and global LGBTQ+ politics as well as pressing issues of diversity and wellbeing in contemporary higher education.

The symposium began on the Friday morning with a welcome by the chair and lead organizer Danielle Sofer (Maynooth University). This was immediately followed by a discussion about safe spaces by the Study Group chair Thomas R. Hilder (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim) and a 30-minute “speed-networking” exercise, whereby participants briefly introduces themselves to as many other people in the room.

            The academic rigour and critical poise of the symposium was set by the keynote speaker, Liam Lillis Ó Laoire (NUI Galway). His paper “Thinking about Race with Traditional Irish Song” beautifully weaved together reflections on whiteness, gender and sexuality through inspecting canonical Irish folk music in contemporary, multi-ethnic and postcolonial Ireland. Further explorations of gender, sexuality and ethnicity in Irish contexts were offered through an invited panel on the second day. Here, Moynagh Sullivan (Maynooth University) examined Irish national identity by critiquing the received hetero-patriarchal cannon of Irish-British pop stars and posited alternative feminist and queer lineages. Her fellow panellist, the cabaret and burlesque performer Shir Madness offered an eloquent critique of cultural appropriation in burlesque performance by drawing on her own experiences as a postcolonial Irish citizen.

Intersections of gender, sexuality and coloniality were also addressed in several other presentations, including a study of queer Cuban dancing bodies by Moshe Morad (Tel Aviv University) and an analysis of the South African queer artist of colour Umlilo by Ernst van der Wal (Stellenbosch University/Humboldt University of Berlin). Chris Stover’s (Arizona State University) presentation on the composer-improviser-activist Sun Ra, and the organised panel on falsetto, countertenors and male sopranos by Michael Arshagouni, Robert Crowe and Morgan Crowley drawing on their work as musicologists and performers, explicitly explored the voice. The theme of embodiment was explored in different guises, through a study of lip-syncing in RuPaul’s Drag Race by Manuel Pinto (University of Groeningen), reflections on gendering in ballet education in the UK by Jonathan Still (UCL Institute of Education), and an analysis of the composition, performance and reception of the works by the US composer Harry Partch by John Hails (Edinburgh Napier University).

Meanwhile, issues of queer subjectivities was the focus of Marion Wasserbauer’s (University of Antwerp) presentation of her beautiful oral history project “Queer Voices”, which involved interviews with queer-identifying people in Belgium and discussions of their musical tastes and personal biographies. Ethnographic methods also informed the work of David Buschmann (University of Bern), who presented on issues of safe spaces in Berlin queer clubs. Several presenters offered analyses of queer identifying artists, such as the US pop star Annie Clarke by Megan Rogerson-Berry (Waikato Institute of Technology, Hamilton), and the US organist Cameron Carpenter by Laura Wahlfors (Sibelius Academy). To compliment, Magdalena Fürnkrantz (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna) uncovered new perspectives on jazz musicians of the Harlem renaissance, and Mark Fitzgerald (DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama) offered a reassessment of twentieth century Irish composers, continuing a tradition within queer approaches to reveal hidden LGBT histories. Other presentations included a model for queer listenings of J.S. Bach by Nick Bonadies (Guildhall School of Music and Drama), an analysis of film music in Derek Jarman’s Edward II by Richard Piatak (University of Huddersfield), and the preliminary ideas for a project on social networking amongst LGBT musicians by Pam Burnard (University of Cambridge).

(Photograph by Christina Appleby)

            Another key focus of the symposium was issues of health and wellbeing. This was addressed in a roundtable on mental health in higher education which featured the speakers John Hails, Annie Hanlon (Dundalk Institute of Technology), Sarah Hawes (Maynooth University), Christopher Morris (Maynooth University), and Aoife Fennel (Maynooth University). Drawing on their experiences as students, lecturers, heads of department, and welfare and equality officers, the speakers offered their own insights into, and strategies for dealing with the marked rise in mental health issues amongst students and staff in music departments. As Annie Hanlon reminded us, levels of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide are higher among LGBTQ people, and the panellists urged for greater awareness and the implementation of new policies at universities. Such issues were a stark reminder of one of the main aims of the Study Group, to create a support network for LGBTQ identifying students, scholars and musicians and to provide a forum for issues of diversity and inclusion in the academy.

            Overall, the symposium was a huge success. Participants hailed from numerous countries – including South Africa, Belgium, New Zealand, Finland, the USA, Austria, Israel, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Ireland and the UK – demonstrating the growth in interest in issues of music, gender and sexuality, and the expansion of the Study Group network. The careful curation of the event by the programme committee, especially the host Danielle Sofer, created a supportive and jovial atmosphere, promoted critical scholarship and discussions, and engendered a strong sense of politics. Through the diverse participants, contributions and formats, the symposium continued the Study Group’s role as an academic forum with activist and outreach aspirations. The Study Group committee would like to thank all the student helpers and our funders, including the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, the Royal Musical Association, the Society for Musicology in Ireland and Maynooth University.

Participants at the symposium were shocked and saddened to hear of the death of David Buschmann just weeks after having presented at the event. David had recently completed his MA in Graz, Austria, and was just beginning a PhD in Bern, Switzerland. The Study Group offers our sincere condolences to his family and friends.