International Council for Traditional Music

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

ICTM Study Group on Global History of Music


Reflecting a new interest in global histories outside music, the ICTM topic-based Study Group on Global History of Music would focus on the global interaction of regional musical cultures. Historical studies of music have almost always restricted themselves to specific geographically or culturally defined areas, but music is pursued in relation to the music of other areas and cultures, resulting in a global network of cross-cultural relationships largely neglected by conventional musical historiography. The Study Group on Global History of Music will aim to continue this work, bringing together musicologists and ethnomusicologists in an attempt to add value to work currently underway in both disciplines to get out of Euro- and America-centric approaches. It'd provide a space for historical musicologists within ICTM, which would be strategic. 

The mission of the ICTM Study Group on Global History of Music is to encourage, promote and support scholars and performers investigating music history in a global context. We are concerned not only with previously neglected musical traditions but also with how music and related sound genres have intersected cross-culturally and become entangled with each other. Furthermore, different research practices and views of history will also be regarded. Acting as an information exchange and providing workshops, symposia, performances, publication opportunities, and pedagogical resources, the ICTM Study Group on Global History of Music will bring together researchers from around the world to share and develop their research. 

We seek to address such questions as: What constitutes musical expression in different contexts, and why? How do different histories of music relate to those of sound, dance, drama, poetry, or prayer? Have traditional concepts of "music," "history," and "global" limited our access to, and understanding of, other histories and cultures, and if so, how might this be remedied? How can scholars and performers from across the world collaborate in the realisation of a global history of music? We invite scholars, performers, and others interested in this initiative to join us, especially the emerging and mid-career researchers who will contribute to the gradual shift away from a Eurocentric and nationalistic history of music towards one that meets that challenges of globalisation. 

Application Membership

All ICTM members are welcome to join our Study Group.To become a member please write a message to the Chair (Razia Sultanova),  Vice Chair (Xiao Mei), or Secretary (Margaret Walker)  to receive a further information.


Executive Advisers

  • Reinhard Strohm (University of Oxford)
  • Nicholas Cook (University of Cambridge)  

Executive Committee




Call for Papers:

1st Official Symposium of the ICTM Study Group

on GLOBAL HISTORY OF MUSIC, 12-14 May, 2021, 

Sichuan Conservatory of Music, People’s Republic of China


The Global History of Music ICTM Study Group welcomes participants interested in the historical global interaction of regional musical cultures and scholarships in the attempt to contribute to work currently underway in both musicology and ethnomusicology reaching beyond Euro- and America-centric approaches. We aim to encourage, promote and support scholars and performers investigating music history in a global context.

We are pleased to invite participation in our 1st International Symposium,

Mobility and Transcultura in Music and Performance in Global Civilisations,”

hosted by the Sichuan Conservatory of Music, People’s Republic of China, between 12 and 14 May 2021. Sichuan Conservatory of Music (SCCM) is located inside the city of Chengdu, one of the three most-populous cities in Western China and known for its scenic beauty, rich cultural relics, and its globally acclaimed food. Located in the heart of Sichuan Province and serving as its capital city, it is surrounded by the Chengdu Plain, known as the "Country of Heaven" and the "Land of Abundance.”

Migration and trade have fostered intercultural networks through time and space. Performing arts including music, dance, poetry, and theatre have travelled along and through these networks, presenting and representing their cultures of origin while adapting to or adopting local practice in their travels. Transcultura speaks to the inter-subjective view developed through an understanding of convivial exchange and reciprocal culture-related histories. Performance practice is ideal for transcultura study as it can reinforce, reflect, change, challenge, preserve or reciprocate culture and knowledge as it encounters other practices and cultures.

We invite papers and presentations engaging with the topic of mobility and transcultural in music and related performance broadly or through three conference sub-themes.

1) Isolation, Collaboration, Adaptation: Performance practices along and beyond the regions of the Great Silk Road.

While the Great Silk Road was indeed a web of travellers fostering millennia of encounters, it may also be understood as a symbol of similar networks elsewhere. Whether productive or protective, collaborative or combative, adaptive or isolationist, how have such encounters affected past and present performance practices?

2) Economic perspectives of musical change and exchange: the role of trade in music history of global civilisations.

Since time immemorial, trade in goods, services, people, and resources has fostered movement and reciprocity between peoples. Music in all its manifestations, has accompanied local and global trade, affecting and being affected by economic interests. What are ways in which trade and economic exchange have played a role in music history, and how can those influences be heard in contemporary practice?

3) Music, Dance, Drama, and Puppetry: Inclusive performance practices and their histories

In many cultures of the world, music is rarely performed in isolation, but rather is an integrated part of practices that include dance, drama, puppetry and more. To focus only on music can often be to exclude what may be truly valuable, yet to cast too broad net may lead to confusion. Which performance practices should be included in globally situated research, and what might their inclusion teach us about music history approaches and discourses?


We are delighted to announce our Keynote speakers: 

1. Professor Dr Tan Sooi Beng (Universiti Sains Malaysia) with her paper

"Mobile Performers, Multiple Centres, Modern Sounds: 

An Alternative History of Global Musical Contact”,


2. Professor Dr Edwin Seroussi (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) with his presentation  “Diasporas and Global Musical Networks: Jewish Perspectives”.


Please submit abstracts for paper presentations, round tables, panels or alternative presentations such as lecture-performances to by 1 February 2021.

Abstracts should be in English and a maximum of 250 words. Please include your full name, institution (if applicable), position/rank, and email.

Deadline for Abstracts submission: 1 February 2021

Declaration of Accepted Abstracts: 1 March 2021

Announcement of the Symposium Program: 15  March 2021


We look forward to hearing from you,


Razia Sultanova,  Chairperson, University of Cambridge, UK, 


Xiao Mei, Vice-Chairperson, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, China, 


Margret Walker, Secretary, Queen’s University, Canada,








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