BFE/RMA Research Students Conference 2019

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. Find out more about the RMA Student Committee and activities on the Student Blog.

The upcoming 2019 BFE / RMA Research Students’ Conference will be hosted by the Department of Music, University of Sheffield (further details below). The subsequent 2020 BFE / RMA Research Students’ Conference will take place from 9th-11th January 2020, and will be hosted by the Open University in Milton Keynes.


Conference dates: 
10 Jan 2019 to 12 Jan 2019
University of Sheffield
Call for papers: 

BFE / RMA Research Students’ Conference 2019

10-12 January 2019

University of Sheffield



Laudan Nooshin (City, University of London)

Yvonne Liao (University of Oxford)


Call for Proposals

The Department of Music at the University of Sheffield is delighted to host the 2019 British Forum for Ethnomusicology and Royal Musical Association Research Students’ Conference. We welcome UK and international postgraduates to present their research and creative practice in an inclusive, friendly, and supportive atmosphere. The conference will also include training and careers workshops, informal performance opportunities, and a variety of social and networking events.

We welcome both traditional and innovative formats for presentations relating to any areas of musical research, including composition, audiovisual media, performance, and/or other creative practices, as well as musicology, ethnomusicology, music psychology, and research that cuts across (sub-)disciplinary boundaries. Presentations should be 20 minutes in length, and will be followed by an additional 10 minutes for questions and discussion. Alternatively, papers can be proposed for a shorter ‘lightning’ format, allowing 5 minutes and one slide.

We also welcome proposals for posters, which optionally can be linked to a paper in either conventional or ‘lightning’ format.

Proposals responding to this general call should be sent to by 9am Monday 12 November 2018.

Proposals should include:

  • -  your name

  • -  email address

  • -  affiliation

  • -  title of your presentation

  • -  abstract of no more than 250 words

Please make any unusual space, format, or equipment requirements clear in addition to your abstract.

Alongside this general invitation, we encourage proposals for the following specific session calls. Participants may submit one abstract to the general call and an additional one to any of the sessions below (students may have more than one proposal selected for presentation).


Ligeti Quartet Composition Workshop

Convened by Dr Dorothy Ker.

As part of the conference, CeNMaS (Centre for New Music at Sheffield) are excited to be able to offer a one-day workshop for composers with our associate ensemble Ligeti Quartet. Pieces, movements or excerpts of up to 6 minutes’ duration scored for string quartet will be played through, followed by discussion.

Submit a pdf of your piece, movement or excerpt not longer than 6 minutes. Shorter durations are welcome.

Scores should be formatted in portrait orientation (preferably) unless the music particularly calls for being presented in landscape. Note that parts will not be required as the Quartet plays from score on A4-sized iPads (page turns should be managed helpfully, but do not need time/non-playing bars to execute).

Compositions should be accompanied by an abstract (max 300 words, as a separate word file) that briefly describes the aims and methods of the piece, for publication in the conference proceedings.

Submit scores and abstracts (2 separate pdf files) to by 9am Monday 12 November 2018. The email text should state your institution and the stage you are at in your studies.

The conference composition panel will select 8 or so pieces to be presented.


Electroacoustic Strand

Convened by James Surgenor, Chris Bevan, Alejandro Albornoz and John Mercer.

The conference incorporates an open call for proposals in the field of electroacoustic music, under the following categories:

Paper: Papers on topics relating to electroacoustic composition in any form. Papers will be delivered as a 20 minute talk at the conference.

Submission criteria:

- An abstract of no more than 200 words

Piece: Works of electroacoustic composition for performance over a diffusion system.

Submission criteria:

- Pieces should be no greater than 15 minutes in duration

- Pieces should be submitted at 44.1kHz sampling rate

- Multi-channel works are permitted, but due to performance restrictions, must not require  more than 8 channels

- Multi-channel submissions should be a stereo downmix. Full multi-channel will be requested upon acceptance.

Piece and Paper: Works of electroacoustic composition for performance over a diffusion system, and an accompanying paper on the piece being performed. Presentations will be 30 minutes in total. Accompanying papers should be of a critical nature on a particular aspect of the piece or practice relating to it (i.e. papers should not be extended programme notes).

Submission criteria:

  • -  Paper: An abstract of no more than 200 words

  • -  Piece: The piece, following the same guidelines as for a piece submission

Submissions will be selected on merit by blind review, by a panel of postgraduate researchers at the University of Sheffield.

Submissions are via this Google Form, and should be received by 9am Monday 12 November 2018.

Technical Demonstrations

Convened by Dr Renee Timmers.

Technical demonstrations are invited that operate as a stand-alone or in combination with a full paper (20 minutes), a lightning paper (5 minutes), or a poster. Technical demonstrations showcase a piece of software and/or hardware relevant for music research or music generation. The demonstration may consist of the presenter explaining the tool to visitors or may be more interactive where visitors try out various aspects of the tool.

To propose a technical demonstration, please submit an abstract of up to 250 words that explains the main background, aims, and contribution of the tool. Please add a brief description of the proposed format in which the demonstration will be held. This description is to provide further information to the conference organisers.

As for all submissions, proposals further require inclusion of name of contributing author(s), affiliation, e-mail address, and title, in addition to the abstract.

Submissions to by 9am Monday 12 November 2018.


Performance Workshop: Interpreting Contemporary Music

Led by Sarah Watts: .

Take away the melodies and the harmonic stability of classical and romantic music that is the foundation of learning an instrument, and that provides us with a sense of familiarity and understanding, and suddenly learning a piece of contemporary music can become a daunting task. With a lack of barlines, complex rhythms, contemporary techniques, quarter and eighth tones; what looks on paper to a classical musician like a complete breakdown of familiar structure will all too often take a music student too far outside of their comfort zone. How does a contemporary specialist interpret such music? Especially when contemporary pieces often have no or few recordings to use as a comparison or a resource to help learning.

As a soloist or a small chamber ensemble, this workshop provides you the opportunity to bring a post-1960 contemporary work to the session to look ways of interpreting, preparing and finding the music in your work.

All submissions must include:

  • Name of group and instrumentation
  • Name, title and date of work proposed for workshop
  • A PDF of a sample score. (If you are accepted for the workshop, you must provide an original or PDF copy of the score by 1st January 2019).

Submissions to by 9am Monday 12 November 2018.


World Music Workshop: Indian Music on Western Instruments

Led by John Ball (World Musician in Residence, University of Sheffield)

The workshop will explore effective ways of bringing Indian music repertoire into performance and learning environments including institutional settings and classroom teaching. Indian music is both a rich resource for melodic and rhythmic music material with huge potential to be creatively integrated into wider musical experience, and a major world classical music tradition with extensive historical and cultural connections to the UK and the North of England. Indian music offers established and transferable methods, techniques and aesthetic approaches that can enrich musicianship. The focus for learning is the participant’s own primary instrument (including voice) thereby utilising existing skills, and is of particular interest for musicians and singers who are looking to explore working creatively between more than one music genre (e.g. Indian music and jazz).

No pre-submission is required to participate.


Folk Session

The conference will incorporate an informal folk/traditional music session, interspersed with more formal sets from the professional folk performers among Sheffield's PGR community. The session will focus on traditional musics of the British Isles, but will welcome input from further afield. There is no pre-submission to participate, but you will have to remember your instrument!


Programme Committee

Dr Tim Shephard
Dr Simon Keegan-Phipps
Dr Dorothy Ker
Dr Renee Timmers
Helen Gubbins
Phil Robinson
Dr Matthew Machin-Autenrieth
Dr Michelle Assay