Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Call for Papers: Popular Music Studies, Ethnomusicology, Cultural Policy

Popular Music: Issues of Culture and State

IASPM UK and Ireland Conference 2004
Mary Immaculate College, Universityof Limerick, 12-13 July, 2004

The cultural field of popular music comprises a worldwide phenomenon that can be said to transcend national boundaries. At the same time, the ever-increasing interface between Anglo-American popular music forms and various traditions of ‘world music’ suggests a plurality of relatively distinct popular music cultures that have continuities with musical practices at local, national and international levels.

Given the interplay of these levels, and particularly in the light of the involvement of multi-national enterprises in domestic production and consumption, what are the potential relationships between popular music interests and statutory concerns? A key question here is the extent to which symbolic and material significance is afforded to popular music by nation states and/or regional authorities, and how this compares to policy and provision for other musical forms. This relates to dichotomous conceptions of popular music and traditional music, a conventional distinction that is problematic in the contexts of increased professionalisation, commodification and ‘mediaization’ in all vernacular music practices. At the same time, non-commodity forms of popular and traditional music-making continue to be adapted and/or maintained by local communities or by ‘communities of sound’. These less spectacular aspects of music production and consumption tend to be eclipsed by industry-oriented definitions of popular music and popular culture, an imbalance that is reflected in statutory policy and provision, and to some extent also in popular music scholarship.

The aims of the conference are to examine critically the potential relationships between and among popular (vernacular) music practices and forms, conceptions and articulations of culture at both macro and micro levels, and the agency of industry interests and statutory and/or regional authorities. The conference organisers are interested both in general theoretical reflections and in grounded empirical studies that explore the themes concerned. It is envisaged that papers will fall into one of the three categories below:

1 Statutory policy and provision for popular music

How is popular music valued by the (nation) state? Which policies and infrastructures exist to support a) domestic or ‘indigenous’ music industries b) conceptions of popular music as local/national culture c) popular music in formal education?

2 Popular music as vernacular music

What is the interface between popular music practices and traditional music practices in contemporary contexts of production, consumption and distribution? Is folksong really ‘fakesong’? How are non-commodity popular forms appraised in cultural terms?

3 Interpreting popular music practices

A particular focus of the conference will be on ethnographic approaches to the study of popular music. How are local traditions or scenes created, maintained and developed? What is the relationship between producers and consumers in local communities or in ‘communities of sound’? What is the interplay between local traditions/scenes and the wider world of popular music culture?

Proposals not fitting into the above categories but which break new ground are also welcome.

Form of papers
The standard format is a twenty-minute paper. However, proposals for panel discussions, workshops, and poster presentations are also

Deadline for proposals

Proposals for individual presentations, of not more than 300 words, and for group activities, of not more than 500 words, should be submitted to John O’Flynn by 8 March 2004. Please include full contact details with your proposal, which should be sent by e-mail, to John.Oflynn@mic.ul.ie (attachments should be sent in RTF, Word or some other generic format). If e-mail is not possible, the postal address is:

John O’Flynn
Music Department
Mary Immaculate College
University of Limerick
South Circular Road

Further details including registration procedures will be available in a dedicated conference website early in 2004.