Musik | Musiken.
                        Strukturen und Prozesse

                        15. Internationaler Kongress der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung,
                                Universität Göttingen, 4.–8. September 2012


Call for Proposals (download as pdf)

In 2012, the International Congress of the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung will take place in Göttingen, in the 275th anniversary year of the founding of the university there. The Congress will run from 4-8 September under the general title

Music | Musics. Structures and Processes

Since around the mid-twentieth century, it has become increasingly common to use the word “musics”, rather than “music”, in order to do justice to the plurality of different phenomena to be captured under that term. This heightened sensitivity to the multifarious forms that music and music-making can take is echoed in the article “Musiké – musica – Musik” in the new edition of Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. This article begins with the rather defensive remark that an encyclopedia containing over 40 entries featuring the terms “music” or “musica” in their titles cannot hope to offer a (binding) definition of what this phenomenon is actually meant to entail. Thus, any claim to the primacy, or even universality, of individual concepts of “music” is dealt a simple terminological and relativistic death blow. However, if a unified concept of “music” no longer seems possible, given the plurality of phenomena associated with this term, understanding the constituents of these individual phenomena becomes increasingly important. What connects them, what do they have in common? And what differentiates them? Such questions are more pressing than ever – and one way of approaching them analytically is to focus first and foremost on the structures and processes associated with the phenomena concerned.

This, then, is the central aim of this Congress. It will provide a forum for the discussion of research into musical structures, the structures that are necessary for music to happen at all, and the impact of the one on the other. It will promote the analysis of musical processes as well as the larger-scale historical, cultural and social processes in which musical structures in turn transform and adapt, just as the environment in which these occur is also in a state of constant transformation.

For the purposes of this Congress, the conceptual pairing of Structures | Processes should therefore be understood in a very general sense as delineating the extreme points

of a gamut running between static structures and dynamic processes. Musical, institutional and cognitive structures are all implicated, as are the continuous transformations that characterise both the immediate acts of making, perceiving and thinking about music, and the historical, cultural and social processes in which these developments take place.

“Musicology” itself as an academic discipline must also be considered here – not least given that musicology, too, has undergone significant transformation in recent years. This transformation is due in part to growing recognition of the coexistence of different musics, and in part to the necessity of collaborations across disciplinary borders, which in turn mean that the limits of the discipline are constantly shifting. Musicological research as a discursive category can itself be understood in terms of particular structures and processes, which form the basis for the ascription of particular meanings to particular musics. Thus, reflections on the dynamics of our discipline, on contemporary developments, on “future musicologies”, and on what the discipline needs in order to develop further, are particularly welcome contributions to the Congress.

Researchers are herewith invited to participate in this stimulating discussing by submitting proposals for symposia, round tables, poster sessions and individual papers:

  1. Symposia can be planned to cover half a day (three hours = two sessions of 90 minutes each) or one full day (six hours = four sessions of 90 minutes each). Applications should state the topic, the objectives, and how the symposium is to be structured (e.g. papers, podium discussions, etc). This information should be presented in the form of an abstract of around 500 words in length, to which should be added a list of the researchers who will participate and contact details (one main contact person is to be named), the topics which the individual participants will address, and a shorter abstract of around 250 words for each of these individual topics.

  2. Round tables have a standard length of 90 minutes duration; the focus here should be on discussion rather than individual presentations. Applications should name the topic and provide an abstract of around 500 words in length, as well as a list of the researchers who will participate, and contact details (one central contact person is to be named).

  3. Poster sessions are intended for the presentation and discussion of research projects covering all aspects of musicological resarch. These can consist of either one or two sessions of 90 minutes each. Applications should name the topic and provide an abstract of around 500 words in length, as well as a list of the researchers who will participate, and contact details (one central contact person is to be named).

  4. Free papers that do not refer specifically to the main topic of the Congress are also possible, not least in order to give a fuller impression of the plurality of contemporary musicological research. These can either take the form of papers of 20 minutes’ duration plus 10 minutes for discussion or lecture recitals of 30 minutes’ duration. It is also possible to present a poster in a free poster session. Applications for free papers/lecture recitals/posters should name the topic and the research objective and provide an abstract of around 250 words, and should also include the contact details of the applicant. The abstract should make clear if the proposal is for a paper, a lecture recital or a poster.

Please note that the Congress organisers are unable to provide any financial assistance for free symposia, round tables, poster sessions and free papers/ posters as outlined above.

Deadline for applications

Free symposia, round tables and poster sessions: 31.06.2011; free papers/posters: 31.12.2011.

Applicants for symposia, round tables and poster sessions will be informed of the decision by 15.11.2011, applicants for free papers/posters by 31.03.2012.

Languages of the Congress

German, English

Applications may be submitted by e-mail (PDF format only please; the file name should include the surname of the applicant and the type of application, e.g. symposium, free paper) to

or by post to Department of Musicology Programme Committee GfM 2012, University of Göttingen Kurze Geismarstraße 1 D-37073 Göttingen.

Music | Musics. Structures and Processes