The International Folk Music Council (IFMC) was set up in London in 1947, and the BFE emerged as the IFMC UK Chapter in 1973. When the IFMC changed its name to the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) in 1981, we became the ICTM UK Chapter. We published our first newsletter in December 1974 and this became a bulletin in January 1983. When volume and content of the bulletin outgrew the original format, The British Journal of Ethnomusicology was born in 1992. As the ICTM UK Chapter gained confidence and international esteem, in 1995 the UK membership opted for our present name: The British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE). The journal quickly developed a prestigious international profile and in 2004 Routledge began to publish it with the new branding Ethnomusicology Forum. The journal recently expanded its page count and continues to attract high quality and innovative ethnomusicology scholarship from around the world.

The BFE remains to be the affiliate National Committee to the ICTM, but also has strong links with other ethnomusicology organisations around the world, including The Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) in the USA (where the BFE hosts a Highland Tea at their annual conference), along with ethnomusicological groups in neighbouring countries. We held our April 2013 conference in Belfast jointly with the ICTM (Ireland), and in July 2015 the BFE held our conference in Paris jointly with La Société française d'ethnomusicologie (SFE). We also have strong links with the Royal Musical Association (RMA) (our student members hold joint musicology-ethnomusicology study days and conferences) and The Royal Anthropological Society (RAI). The RAI and BFE have recently reformed an ethnomusicology committee, which initially met 6 August 1953 ‘to consider what action [should] be taken for the encouragement of this branch of anthropology.’ 

The BFE’s mission is to advance the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of all and any music. BFE is now a body fiscally autonomous from any other organisation, and membership is open to anyone interested in the study of music and dance from all parts of the world. Our membership is international and comprises individuals and institutions. We host three conferences each year: our annual conference (traditionally during the Easter break), a one-day conference (usually in or either side of November), and, in tandem with the Royal Musical Association, a research students conference (in early January).