XX International Seminar on Ethnomusicology

Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
plus Jan, 2931 2015

From 29 to 31 January 2015, the Intercultural Institute for Comparative Music Studies organizes the XX edition of the International Seminar on Ethnomusicology curated by Francesco Giannattasio: “Musical traditions: patrimonies, archives, and new creativities.”

In the past two Seminars we have extensively debated the issues of status, perspectives, tasks and methods of investigation for a comparative musicology of the XXI Century, in the light of recent dramatic changes in the cultural and social scenario that characterizes the world in this new century. In order to update our discipline to the new reality that we are facing, we have thoroughly scrutinized several terms, concepts, and categories that have theoretically characterized and shaped our discipline: ethnicity, cultural identity, traditional music, and dichotomies such as high/low, oral/written, art/popular, functional/aesthetic, synchronic/diachronic, including the term, by now increasingly anachronistic and outdated, of ethnomusicology.

It is time now to draw consequences from such debate of general character, and to address directly the heart of the problem: the status and the nature of musical traditions that are the object of an inter- and transcultural inquiry. To this aim, the XX edition of the International Seminar on Ethnomusicology is particularly appropriated – also in a symbolic sense, due to the anniversary – to make an attempt to establish where we are today on the real substance of those musical traditions of which our discipline statutory deals with. 

If the substitution of the worn out and not meaningful term ‘traditional music’ (is there a music that is not traditional ?) with ‘musical traditions’ gives the sense of a Copernican revolution that we are obliged to accomplish, by now, we believe that a better and more realistic awareness of our object/s of study may stem from a careful and non ideological reflection:

a) on the concrete content of abstract concepts (only apparently politically correct) such as ‘patrimony’, ‘patrimonialization’, and ‘intangible heritage’;

b) on the new value,also heuristic, that take today the policies and the concrete contents of musical archives;

c) on the transcultural implications of the several new creativities that express themselves today, in ways that differ, also dramatically, in the music/s of the world.

Various are the issues that may nurture our debate in this way. For example:

1) What is the real temporal and spatial extension of the concept of patrimony, especially in the light of the multiple conferred meanings (intangible, untouchable, insurmountable, unmarketable, implausible, and so on) that such concept takes in the concreteness of new ‘cultural’ policies that, on the surface, apparently respect differences, while based actually on economic interest and ghettoizing strategies ?

2) To what extent sound and multimedia archives reflect, facilitate or limit the extension of the concept of patrimony ?

3) How identify, study and enhance the new musical creativities without being conditioned by preconceptions hidden behind conservative notions such as patrimony and patrimonialization ?

Francesco Giannattasio


The panel of discussion of the Seminar 2015 will focus on these, and related, issues, all nurtured by specific case studies. At the Seminar will participate: Anthony Seeger (professor emeritus, UCLA), Dan Lundberg (Visarkiv, Stockholm), Ignazio Macchiarella (University of Cagliari), Mario Tronco (musician and composer) and Leandro Piccioni (musician and composer).

Info: musica.comparata@cini.it – T 041 2710357