International societies for Folk Music


Society for Ethnomusicology.

American society with international membership founded in Philadelphia in 1955 to advance research and study in the field of ethnomusicology. Its research interests cover all musics, but generally Western art music has not been a strong focus. It is governed by eight directors nominated by and from the membership of a council, but elected by the general membership. Directors serve a two-year term, though the president serves for four years (one as president elect, one as past president). As a scholarly body, representing many professional ethnomusicologists (around 2500 at the end of the 20th century) working in universities, museums archives and a variety of other contexts, the society was admitted to constituent membership in the American Council of Learned Societies in 1966.

The founders, David McAllester, Alan Merriam, Willard Rhodes and Charles Seeger, all had training in anthropology or musicology. To establish communication among ethnomusicologists throughout the world, the mimeographed Ethno-musicology Newsletter, edited by Merriam, appeared from 1953 to 1957 (11 issues); it was succeeded by Ethnomusicology, a triannual journal, edited successively by McAllester, Nettl, Frank Gillis, Israel J. Katz, Norma McLeod, Gerard Béhague, Fredric Lieberman, Timothy Rice, K. Peter Etzkorn, Charles Capwell, Jeff Todd Titon, James R. Cowdery and Bruno Nettl. The society also issues the S.E.M. Newsletter (1967–), a monograph series and an audio-visual series. Annual scholarly meetings were instituted in 1956; nine regional chapters also hold meetings and read papers, while committees (archive, education, current issues etc.) produce panels, reports, and occasional publications. The society also awards several prizes for outstanding scholarship in the field. The society’s office is in Bloomington, Indiana.

International Council for Traditional Music [ICTM].

An organization formed in London in 1947, under the name International Folk Music Council (IFMC), with the aims of furthering the study of folk music and dance, and of assisting in their practice, preservation and dissemination. The first meeting was attended by delegates from 28 countries, and since 1948 annual or biennial conferences have been held, bringing together specialists in all fields of folk music; early conferences took place in Ghana and Israel as well as in Europe and the Americas. The first president of the IFMC was Vaughan Williams; he was succeeded by Jaap Kunst, Zoltán Kodály, and, after the latter’s death in 1967, Willard Rhodes, professor of music at Columbia University, followed by Klaus Wachsmann (1973–7) and Poul Rovsing Olsen (1977–82). Maud Karpeles was honorary secretary from 1947 to 1965. The council's secretariat was in London until 1967 when it moved to the Danish Folklore Archives, Copenhagen; in 1969 it moved again, to Canada, where Professor Graham George of Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, became honorary secretary.

The IFMC issued a journal (JIFMC) until 1968, which was superseded by a yearbook (YIFMC); it also produced numerous other publications, including bibliographies, directories, songbooks and bulletins. It had an active committee concerned with radio, television, sound and film archives, which met annually, in addition to a number of national committees and study groups. It was associated with UNESCO through its membership of the International music council and the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences.

In 1981, the secretariat moved to Columbia University in New York, Dieter Christensen was appointed secretary general, and the council was renamed the International Council for Traditional Music. This reflected the expanded and less eurocentric scope of the council's goals and activities, which the term ‘folk’ alone no longer adequately described. The revised rules state that the object of the council is ‘to assist in the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of traditional music, including folk, popular, classical and urban and dance, of all countries.’

Major conferences outside Europe have since been held in Korea (1981), the USA (1983), Hong Kong (1991), Australia (1995) and Japan (1999), in addition to those in European countries (Sweden/Finland 1985, the German Democratic Republic 1987, Austria 1989, Germany 1993 and Slovakia 1997). Smaller conferences – ICTM colloquia and ICTM study group meetings – are frequently held in all continents. The ICTM continues to have national committees and liason officers as well as working more closely with national scholarly societies in many countries and with other international organizations, especially with UNESCO, to which the council is now directly affiliated. The council edits the UNESCO collection of traditional music and publishes the Yearbook for Traditional Music (until 1981 the Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council), a news bulletin and the Directory of Traditional Music. In 1995, the council had 1400 members in 89 countries and official representatives in 58 countries. Erich Stockmann succeeded Poul Rovsing Olsen as president in 1982, followed by Anthony Seeger in 1997 and Krister Olof Malm in 1999.

British Forum for Ethnomusicology.

A UK society that aims to further the study of music and dance from all parts of the world from an ethnomusicological perspective. The organization was initially formed in 1973 as an affiliated national committee of the International Folk Music Council on the instigation of Peter Cooke. When the parent organization became the International council for traditional music (ICTM), the UK affiliated national committee became ICTM (UK Chapter). It remains the UK National Committee of the ICTM, but changed its name to the British Forum for Ethnomusicology in 1995. Two conferences are held each year, either separately or in conjunction with other academic societies and interest groups. Since 1992, the Society has published the British Journal of Ethnomusicology.

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