BFE/RMA Research Students’ Conference 2017

British Forum for Ethnomusicology/Royal Musical Association
Research Students’ Conference
‘Exploring Musical Practice’
A multidisciplinary conference for students involved in music study
5–7 January 2017
School of Music and Performing Arts, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK


Call for Contributions: Deadline: 30 September 2016                                                                          

The school of Music and Performing Arts at Canterbury Christ Church University is honoured to host the second joint British Forum for Ethnomusicology/Royal Musical Association Research Students’ Conference, 5–7 January 2017. The BFE/RMA Research Students' Conference welcomes all postgraduates studying in the UK or abroad to present research in musicology, ethnomusicology, composition, performance, sonic art, sound studies, popular music study, and any areas related to music, in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. The conference will also include a number of performances, workshops, research training, career development sessions, and opportunities to meet and connect with scholars in your area and beyond. Invited speakers include:

  • Dr Kate Guthrie (University of Southampton), 2015 recipient of the RMA’s Jerome Roche Prize.
  • Prof. Anna Morcom (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Founded in 1874, the Royal Musical Association is dedicated to the study of any kind of music, from history, analysis, and ethnomusicology to studies of perception, reception, and practice‐based research. The British Forum for Ethnomusicology’s mission is to advance the study, practice, documentation, preservation, and dissemination of all and any music.


The Call for Contributions invites submissions in the following categories:

  1. Innovative presentation formats (please contact the Conference Chair by 1 September about any extra information required)
  2. Academic papers (10 or 20 minutes, please indicate which)
    1. Research
    2. Composition/performance work in progress
  3. Compositions
  4. Themed panel sessions and symposia
  5. Posters


1.     Innovative Presentation Formats

Research in Music is, by nature, interdisciplinary, constantly evolving, and incredibly varied. The Conference Committee wants to encourage researchers to develop ways of presenting their work in a form which may be more relevant and suited to that work than a 20-minute conference paper, and think about the relationship between content and form in a creative way.

Elements with which research students may wish to experiment may include (but may not be limited to): collaboration, composition/improvisation, practical elements (both musical and non-musical), audience participation, performance art elements, audio-visual elements beyond the PowerPoint presentation, sonic art and sound studies elements, respondents, discussion, and debate. In particular, researchers are encouraged to use innovative presentation formats to interrogate musical practices and research practices within music.  


2.     Academic Papers (10 or 20 minutes, please indicate which)

Research students are invited to submit abstracts for individual papers on any aspect of music study.  Normal AV facilities will be available. Resources for performance or specialised audio-visual resources must be supplied by the presenter, or please contact the Conference Committee to discuss.


a. Research

Research presentations may be on any topic and represent any stage of the research in question.


b. Composition/performance work in progress

Composers and performers may wish to present a work they are preparing at any stage of readiness. This may have a practical element, for instance, incorporating performed extracts


3.     Compositions

Research students are invited to submit a composition in response to one of the following commissions:


a. Catch Club Song

Songs will be read and rehearsed with Chris Price and the a capella group Cantuar (formed of Lay Clerks from the Canterbury Cathedral Choir) in an open workshop. Composers must be present for the workshop in which their composition is scheduled. A selection of the works will then be performed later on in the conference.

The archives of the Canterbury Catch Club are kept in the Cathedral, and have formed the subject of an extensive research project involving the Canterbury Christ Church School of Music and Performing Arts, Canterbury Cathedral, the City Library and Museum, and the Canterbury Festival.

Submissions should be a maximum of 4 minutes’ duration and scored for three, four or five voices.

Compositions may take the form of a Catch, or a Glee.

Catch: essentially a round, this is a piece for unaccompanied equal voices in which an underlying chord sequence (lasting any number of bars between 2 and 30+, in the longer examples) gives rise to three, four or five melodic lines which not only fit harmonically but, in the best examples, have a witty text whose meaning may only emerge when all the voices have entered—either by dint of a wry punch-line or because an altogether more salacious meaning may be heard when the voices combine.

Glee: the descendant of the madrigal and the ancestor of the part-song, the glee is a piece for three, four or five unaccompanied voices (counter-tenor, 2 tenors, baritone, and bass in any combination), usually in a sectional structure, which took pains to match the text with appropriate music. A glee could be delightfully simple, though some examples were altogether more serious, such as Samuel Webbe’s Discord.

The work you submit should not previously have received professional performance nor have been commercially released in recording.

Scores will be accepted in all formats (e.g. conventional notation, graphic, text- based). There are no stylistic constraints. You should send separate PDFs of the full score and parts. Where possible, please also send a Sibelius or Finale file of the full score.


b. Installation

Installations will be set up and explored in open sessions during the conference in collaboration with sound artists, composers, and technicians from Canterbury Christ Church. Composers must be present for this process. Installations will be presented during a special session (or, possibly more than one session) during the conference.

Submissions should be a maximum of 12 minutes’ duration, and can be in a final digital format, or presented as a concept (written or diagram) with example audio.

In particular, submissions are encouraged that explicitly engage with issues in musical practice and musical practices, and may involve a combination of recorded and live elements. Ethnomusicologists are also encouraged to develop installations on this subject, possibly involving field recordings.

There is potential to use the architectural resources of the conference venue. Details on request, or to be discussed in set-up and preparation sessions. Any ideas or questions, please just get in touch with the Conference Committee at

The work you submit may have been previously performed, but should not have been released commercially.

Submissions will be judged primarily on aesthetic grounds (originality, musicality, technical skill), but the panel reserves the right to take matters of practicality into consideration.


4.     Themed Panel Sessions and Symposia

Themed sessions or groups of papers and/or presentations around the conference theme are particularly encouraged. Proposals may suggest non-student academics to act as respondents to the session, but this is not a necessity. Proposed sessions should be one and a half hours long, which will include at least 15 minutes for questions and/or audience discussion. The session may comprise research papers, performance, audio-visual elements, or any combination of presentation methods. Themed sessions and symposia should normally include no less than 3 and no more than 6 participants, including respondents. Topics which may be particularly relevant to the conference theme include:

  • Genre and practice
  • Production as practice-based research
  • Research as practice
  • Technology as a musical practice
  • Practice and participant observation
  • Practice and change
  • Subjects related to the phonograph and its 140th anniversary in 2017

Themed sessions that include panellists from more than one musical sub-discipline are especially encouraged.


5.     Posters

Research students are invited to submit poster displays relating to any aspect of music research. Posters will be displayed throughout the majority of the conference. A special session will allow researchers to speak briefly about aspects of their poster to the whole conference. Posters should be portrait orientation and A1 or A0 size.

How to submit a proposal

Submissions should include:

  • Research student details
    • Name
    • Postal address
    • Email address
    • Institutional affiliation
    • A short biography of no more than 50 words
  • Title and abstract of no more than 250 words, indicating contribution category (e.g., ‘academic paper, 20 minutes, research’)
    • For innovative presentation formats, include a separate description of the reasons behind the presentation format (also no more than 250 words)
    • For themed sessions and symposia, you may submit an abstract covering the whole session proposal (no more than 250 words), along with separate descriptions of the components (no more than 100 words each)
  • AV requirements and any other special requests
  • If you would like to Chair a session (recommended: training will be provided at the start of the conference)

Submissions should be emailed to by Friday 30 Sept 2016.


Other activities

A separate call will be made in September for participants in workshops, debates and other activities during the conference.



Students are invited to act as session chairs during the conference. If you are interested in chairing a session, please express this interest when submitting your abstract. Training will be provided.


Further Information

For further Information and to register for the conference, go to Registration opens: 11 November 2016. BFE Members can use a discount code to register at the reduced members rate (a good reason to sign up for BFE membership if not already a member!). Logged-in members-in-good-standing can access a discount code.

For general conference enquiries, and for enquiries relating to the call for papers, please email

Programme Committee: Dr Vanessa Hawes (Chair), Dr Erica Buurman, Dr Robert Rawson, Dr Lauren Redhead, Dr Maria Varvarigou, Prof. Matt Wright, Dr Byron Dueck, Liam Barnard, James Taylor, Dr Catherine Haworth.

Call for papers deadline: 
30 Sep 2016
Conference dates: 
5 Jan 2017 to 7 Jan 2017
Canterbury Christ Church University