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CFP: Conference “Voice, Connection and Message in Traditional Singing“ in Tartu, Estonia 30.11-1.12.2020


Dear colleagues!

We are pleased to invite you to participate in the conference on traditional singing, which will take place in hybrid form on November 30 – December 1, 2020 in Tartu, Estonia. It is possible to choose between traditional face-to-face sessions at the Estonian Folklore Archives of the Estonian Literary Museum, in Vanemuise 42, Tartu, or online sessions.

The spread of the coronavirus has impacted all of our lives in one way or another; the situation is unpredictable and future opportunities to travel and meet are currently unknown. However, we have decided to continue the tradition of song conferences that we started in 2000. The limited human contact during the lockdown made us think about the role of singing and voice in communication.

The overall theme for the conference is “Voice, connection and message in traditional singing“. We invite proposals for presentations addressing one of the following subtopics:

VOICE. The singing voice is the physical mediator of the song. The singing voice conveys information about the singers themselves and their messages, with the voice itself representing a part of the message. What information is perceived in the singing voice and how is it interpreted, for example, what is considered a masculine or feminine performance? How is voice quality related to the content of the message? What voices and timbres are considered important to achieve in traditional singing styles and what are avoided; how are they described and taught; how is their necessity explained? How do the content, form and text of the songs reflect the singer's voice and the sound of the song?

CONNECTION. The second topic of the conference is the singer’s presence in a singing situation, her/his perception of the surroundings and other people. What demonstrates a singer’s cultural competence to adapt themselves to a singing situation, to other singers and listeners? How does seeing another singer, sensing physical closeness or contact with them affect singing? How do the lyrics reflect the singer's sensory perceptions? How are the singer's dreams about the ideal singing situation and companion(s) reflected in the lyrics? When, why and what are people singing alone? What is the effect of singing in crisis situations?

MESSAGE. What kind of messages are conveyed through a traditional song? How is the poetic aspect of the song lyrics and its putative historical development related to singing? What are the messages of different singing styles from the same culture - both in a traditional context and outside the traditional context (eg if used in art music, literature)? How does the context affect the style of the song? What are the cultural meanings of singing and different singing styles? What messages convey the expressions or lyrics with no semantic or difficult to understand meaning in the lyrics?

THEORY AND METHOD. The papers on more general theoretical and methodological aspects of folk song research, as well as on the creation and systematization of song corpora are welcome. In this context, we can also use the "voice" in a wider sense, for example to ask, how does the digitization of archival materials affect their research and reception in society.

The topics of the conference can be interpreted in the context of the recent crisis. Presentations on singing in the emergency state created due to the pandemic and spread of the coronavirus are very welcome.

We are waiting for your abstracts of about 350 words and speaker’s data (name, institution, email) by August 15, 2020 to

You will receive notifications of acceptance by the 1st of September 2020. The conference has no participation fee.

Organizing team: Janika Oras, Mari Sarv, Helen Kõmmus, Andreas Kalkun, Liina Saarlo, Taive Särg
Estonian Folklore Archives of the Estonian Literary Museum
Vanemuise 42, 51003 Tartu Estonia

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