Blue Flower



Fifth Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Multipart Music

Nanning (China), May 7- 12, 2017

Programme CommitteeArdian AHMEDAJA (Austria), International Chairperson;  Local Chairperson, Ignazio MACCHIARELLA (Italy), Zhanna PÄRTLAS (Estonia),


  1. The Understandings of Multipart Music in Diverse Research Traditions

Investigations carried out in various practices and times have led to the establishment of different understandings of music and processes of music making, including those connected with multipart music. Discussions in the symposia of our Study Group have shown that such differences are connected with the specifics of the musical practices and the understandings of the music makers as well as with the different ways of the establishment of the research traditions in question. At the centre of the discussions on this theme will be questions on how multipart music is understood, expressed and defined in diverse research traditions to know more about the kind of distinctions and possible common features

  1. A specific use of sound in space and time: polymusic and soundscape

The neologism polymusic was coined in 1991 at a seminar of the French Ethnomusicology Laboratory of the CNRS as being the total result of the simultaneous, deliberate presence of several autonomous musical entities, without any coordination in time. This happens in different parts of the world, for example in rituals, when individuals or groups make music on their own, at the same place and simultaneously. The result has been characterised as controlled disorder.

In the last symposium of the Study Group the discussions about this phenomenon were linked with that of soundscape, meaning a component of the acoustic environment that can be perceived by humans. In this context, mostly the part ofsoundscape which is called anthrophony (all of the sound signatures generated by humans) seems particularly appropriate for discussion. Other views are certainly welcome. The intention here is to lead a possibly broader discussion about specific uses of sound in space and time and about performances of different musical acts simultaneously and deliberately.

  1. New research





Fourth Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Multipart Music

Singapore, July 4-7, 2016

Programme Committee: Ardian AHMEDAJA (Austria), International Chairperson; Larry Francis HILARIAN (Singapore), Local Chairperson, Ignazio MACCHIARELLA (Italy), Zhanna PÄRTLAS (Estonia),




  1. Multipart Music as a Mean of Social and/or Intercultural Interaction

When music is lively made, it is an interaction between behaviours put in place by distinctive persons on the basis of shared performative rules. Far from being an anodyne and faithful reproducer of sounds, every participant in the performative act is what he/she makes: he/she coincides with the vocal or instrumental sound he/she produces. As such, every participant in a performance is a soundful body who manifests his/her singular musicalitymore or less evidently and consciously, according to the shared music mechanism, to the circumstances and the purposes of the performance, on the basis of his/her music skills, background, taste, preferences and so forth. This is particularly true in multipart music practices which can be interpreted as conscious interactions between different sound identities.

Within a human group, multipart performances represent, reinforce or even question both inter-individual and collective relationships. Within multicultural scenarios, through multipart practices, different skills and backgrounds interact in creative ways, often in unpredictable forms (including original blending of vocal timbres and/or music instrument sounds). Beyond music outcomes, we call for contribution focussed on individual and collective music behaviours within a cultural context or a multicultural situation.


  1. Methods of Analytical Representation of Multipart Music Processes

The analytical representation of traditional music was for years a matter of argument in ethnomusicology. The recent publications (Agawu 2003, Tenzer 2006, Stock 2008) that advocate musical analysis as a method of ethnomusicological research showed new perspectives in this domain, which, in spite of criticism, was never completely abandoned by ethnomusicologists. As Tenzer put it, “analysis … is a worthy exercise because it brings us to a more intensive relationship with the particularities of sound”. The question is “how we interpret and present our perceptions and decisions“. (Tenzer 2006, 8)The topic of analytical representation of music includes many particular questions beginning with the methods of sound and video recording, means of visualization of musical sound, limitations and possibilities of aural analysis, and ending with the usage of computer software as an analytical tool. All these questions have their specificity being applied to the multipart music research.

Among the questions to be discussed, there are: How the experience of musical transcription and analysis influences the ethnomusicological research? To what extent is music analysis ideologically charged? What do we try to represent visualizing multipart music? What, in this respect, is the potential of different means of visual representation of music (e.g. segmentation and implementation, different kinds of notations, graphical visualization, etc.)? How do we balance in our practice between ‘descriptive’ and ‘prescriptive’ notation? How can ‘static’ codes describe musical processes?


  1. Music Education and its Role in Community and Multipart Music-Making as a “Shared Experience”

The theme hopes to explore the significance of the changing landscape of music education over the last 2/3 decades and its effects on active music-making as a “shared musical expression” and multipart music-making. It examines the role of music education through the deployment of World Music pedagogies in the school music curriculum.The aim is to initiate discussion on how music educators could contribute to the larger shared musical and artistic life of not only the changing school culture, but also the new migrant community. The functionality of community and multipart music-making could also necessitate social integration in the rapidly changing cosmopolitan global cities. Some of the questions that could be explored are: how music education can play a vital role in the integration of new migrants; how political changes could affect the ways in which music education should be approached, and why these changes are necessary today.

Please, see the Programme and Abstract Book


First Seminar of the ICTM Study Group on Multipart Music

Tallin, Estonia, September 19-20, 2014 
Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Eesti Muusika-ja Teatriakadeemia

Local OrganiserŽanna PÄRTLAS (Estonia)
Program Committee: Ardian Ahmedaja (Austria/Albania), Ignazio Macchiarella (Italy), Žanna PÄRTLAS (Estonia)
Supported by: The Cultural Endowment of Estonia the Estonian Research Council

Multipart Music: theoretical approaches on the terminology
The current definition of the multipart music used by the ICTM Study Group on Multipart Music reads: Multipart music is a specific mode of music making and expressive behavior based on the intentionally distinct and coordinated participation in the performing act by sharing knowledge and shaping values. The term “multipart music” and others connected with it are applied in different meanings in the scholarly literature and the symposia of the Study Group. Therefore an in-depth discussion on theoretical approaches of this particular terminology has become more than necessary. This seminar will be dedicated entirely to this subject.

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Third Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Multipart Music

Budapest, Hungary, September 12-16, 2013

Local Organiser: Institute for Musicology. Research Centre for the Humanities. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Budapest, Hungary.
Head of the Local Organisers’ Committee: Lujza Tari.
Programme Committee: Ardian AHMEDAJA, Chair (Austria), Ignazio MACCHIARELLA (Italy), Zhanna PÄRTLAS (Estonia), Lujza TARI (Hungary)

1. Scholarly terminology and local musical practice
One of the barriers ethnomusicologists have to constantly overcome in their work is the balancing act between dealing with local practices and trying to generalize the focused questions by using scholarly terminology. In addition to the complex relationship between local and global terminologies, connotations of terms in use change continuously. Furthermore, different sciences influence each other’s views and consequently their terminologies. Questions to be focused on in the discussions are: How do terms come into use in scholarly research? Is there a model or does every term have its ‘own history’? How do their connotations change? How do other sciences influence this process? And what about questions on ‘lingua franca’? What is the place of local terminology within this framework? How does terminology influence local musicians’ and scholars’ perception of music and music making?
2. The role of educated musicians and missionaries in local music practices

Schoolmasters, cantors, choir conductors and other educated musicians have influenced local practice in many parts of the world. With regard to multipart music they have even influenced the establishment of new traditions. An important place is occupied by religious missionaries in this context. As a result, in many cases local music has lost its reputation or has been neglected in favour of newly-introduced music. Through case studies and theoretical approaches, the kind of influences these activities have oneveryday musical practice will be examined, focusing at the same time on the contexts of the objectives and results of the work of various protagonists in this process.

3. Individualists in company
Multipart music as a specific mode of music making and expressive behaviour is based on intentionally distinct and coordinated participation in the performing act by sharing knowledge and shaping values. In this process, the company members try to promote personal goals connected with creation and experimentation during music making and the discussions about it with community members. A specific issue within this framework is multipart music performed by one singer or by one musician on a single instrument. The main question to be discussed within this framework is connected with the kind of position the individual and the company have in various multipart music traditions. 

Please, see the Programme and Abstract Book


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Second Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Multipart Music

Tiranë, Albania, April 22-29, 2012

Head of the Local Organisers Committee: Ardian Ahmedaja
Program committee: Ardian Ahmedaja (Austria); Ignazio Macchiarella (Italy); Žanna Pärtlas (Estonia); Ankica Petrovic (Croatia)

1. Multipart music practices as creative processes
How can creative processes in multipart music making be recognized? How do the acts of performance, interpretation and local discourse give shape to them? How can individual, collective and collaborative dimensions, which are so essential for multipart music practices, be defined in this context? How and to what extent do they determine transmission processes? Dealing with these and other questions emerging from the elaboration of diverse investigation tools, the aim is to initiate a discussion on local and global understandings of musical creativity, exploring various methodologies and theoretical approaches.

2. Multipart music in religious practices
This theme provides an opportunity for elaboration on sources related to discussions and statements about multipart music, mainly from a theological perspective in the past and the present. Presentations related to multipart music in different religious practices which highlight the diversity of the roles, powers, symbolism, meanings and values given to multipart music in specific cultures and their religious rituals are especially welcome. Mutual influences between religious and secular music practices as part of transformation processes are also of significance for the discussion.

3. Multipart music awarded
In public discussions, the awards given at public presentations of local music and dance (such as at folklore festivals) are often connected not only with the performers, but also with a ‘ranking’ of local repertoires. Multipart music repertoires are significant in this context because of their remarkable influence on the establishment of local cultural distinctiveness. Similar situations are apparent in the cases of inclusion of a number of multipart music repertoires in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Some of the questions to be discussed in this context are: What does an award mean for the performers and the communities practising the repertoire? What does it mean for communities who practice other repertoires? Does an award influence everyday practice? What is the role of the ethnomusicologists in this context?

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