Welcome from Barley Norton, Chair of the BFE

The British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE) aims to advance the study of human musical life in all its full richness and diversity.

We provide a forum for engaging in debate and sharing the findings of research through our many conferences and study days and through the publication of our journal Ethnomusicology Forum, in association with Routledge.

We offer awards to recognize outstanding scholarship, including the BFE Book Prize and grants and prizes for student members.

If you would like to keep in touch with BFE news, activities and events please join our email list and follow our social media site

Membership is open to anyone interested in the study of music and dance from all parts of the world. If you are interested in becoming a BFE member please click here for information about the benefits of membership.

Thanks for visiting our website and please contact us if you would like to know more. 


BFE One-day conference 2014. City University (photo by Peter Hudston)


British Forum for Ethnomusicology News

BFE Fieldwork Grants

The British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE) is pleased to announce the launch of a fieldwork grant scheme.


Purpose of the Grants

The BFE Fieldwork Grants are intended to support doctoral candidates conducting ethnomusicological field research in the UK and abroad through making a contribution towards the costs of travel and subsistence. Up to 3 grants collectively totalling up to £1500 will be awarded for the 2016 scheme.



The BFE Fieldwork Grants scheme is open to all students enrolled on a PhD programme at a university in the UK who are conducting ethnomusicological research. Applicants must also be a student member of the BFE at the time of application for the scheme. Only one application per person is permitted and fieldwork must start during 2016.



The criteria of evaluation are: the quality, originality and significance of the research and its potential contribution to ethnomusicological knowledge, theory and debate; the feasibility and importance of the fieldwork for achieving the stated research aims and outcomes; the need of the applicant, i.e. the likelihood of the applicant being unable to obtain fieldwork funding from other sources. There is no preference for particular geographical areas or topics.


Application Procedure

To make an application, the following should be submitted:

  1. A letter addressing the grant criteria. The letter should also provide a clear indication of: the fieldwork schedule; the expected costs; the amount of funding requested from the BFE scheme; and other sources of research funding received and/or applied for. The letter must not exceed 2 pages in length.
  2. A short CV, not exceeding 1 page in length.
  3. A short reference letter, not exceeding 1 page in length, in support of the application from the applicant’s PhD supervisor.

Applications must be sent in electronic form by email to Barley Norton, Chair of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology at: b.nortonatgold.ac.uk. Supervisors may wish to send their reference letter by email directly to the Chair.


Application Deadline and Decision Notification

Applications must be submitted by email by the end of Friday 11 December 2015. Applications will be evaluated by a BFE panel and applicants will be informed of the outcome of the awards by Monday 18 January 2016. The decision of the panel is final, and the BFE regrets that it is unable to provide feedback on applications and decisions made by the panel. 


Payment of Grants for Successful Applications

Successful applicants must liaise with the BFE Treasurer (bfetreasureratgmail.com) before grants are disbursed. Payment will be made via bank transfer.


Post-Award Reports

Successful applicants are requested to submit a short fieldwork report – up to 500 words in length, accompanied by other media materials if appropriate – within 3 months after the completion of the fieldwork. Fieldwork reports are likely to be made public on the BFE website, social media etc. Grant awardees may also be requested to do a short presentation about their fieldwork at BFE meetings such as the AGM. Any publications resulting from the fieldwork should acknowledge receipt of a BFE Fieldwork Grant.



Dear BFE members,

Following the call for nominations for election to the BFE Committee, I would like to update you on the new membership of the Committee.

I’m delighted to announce that Ilana Webster-Kogen and Liam Barnard are joining the Committee, and that five existing committee members are extending their terms for another term, namely Hettie Malcomson, Noel Lobley, Keith Howard, Amanda Villepastour, and Byron Dueck. I very much look forward to working with all of you over the coming years.

Two committee members, Anna Morcom and Henry Stobart, have come to the end of their terms and are standing down. On behalf of the committee, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to both Anna and Henry for the invaluable contribution they have made to the BFE.

Further details of the Committee nomination process are outlined below:

-       Six proposals were received in response to the call for nominations to the BFE Committee. These six proposals - from Ilana Webster-Kogen, Hettie Malcomson, Noel Lobley, Keith Howard, Amanda Villepastour, and Byron Dueck – can be read in the pdf document attached.

-       As the six proposals received did not exceed the number of Committee places available, voting was not required and all six nominated candidates are deemed to have been elected (see Rule 7ii of the BFE constitution, http://www.bfe.org.uk/constitution).

-       In addition to the six nominations, the Committee has co-opted Liam A. Barnard as the convener for the 2016 BFE annual conference at the University of Kent. Please also see the written statement from Liam A. Barnard in the document attached.

-       Following this nomination process, the Committee has the full complement of 12 members, with 8 elected members and 4 co-opted members.

Barley Norton

Chair, British Forum for Ethnomusicology



Dear BFE friends, 

For various reasons, the BFE Committee has decided that the BFE’s Annual General Meeting will not be held as usual at the annual conference in Paris. Instead, an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) will be held in London just before the Paris conference on Tuesday 30 June at SOAS from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. 

The EGM will be held in room G3, just inside the main SOAS entrance on the left (https://www.soas.ac.uk/visitors/location/).

After the EGM, wine and soft drinks will be served and there will be a screening and discussion of my film Hanoi Eclipse: The Music of Dai Lam Linh (http://www.der.org/films/hanoi-eclipse.html) from 7.30pm to 8.45pm, also in room G3.

We would very much like for you to participate in the EGM and actively contribute to the future of the BFE, so please save the date. Further information about the agenda and business of the EGM will follow closer to the meeting.

Please book your tickets using this Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/british-forum-for-ethnomusicology-egm-scr...

We look forward to seeing you there! 

The British Forum for Ethnomusicology



Dear BFE members, 

The British Forum for Ethnomusicology is delighted to welcome Barley Norton (Goldsmiths College) as our new Chair. Barley was co-opted on 30 June 2014 in the role of BFE Chair Elect and will take on his new role from April 2015. 

Our sincere thanks go to Amanda Villepastour, who has led the BFE for the last three years with great enthusiasm. Thank you for all your hard work, Amanda!



The Société Française d’Ethnomusicologie (SFE) and the British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE) invite abstracts for our joint conference in Paris, 2-5 July 2015.

In recognition that this will be the first joint meeting of the two institutions (and the first time the BFE will be holding its annual meeting outside the United Kingdom) we have chosen the theme

Border Crossings/Boundary Maintenance


The theme identifies several areas of scholarly reflection and inquiry to be undertaken. For contemporary ethnomusicologists, ‘boundaries’ invoke a myriad of solid, porous and imagined lines to be negotiated, crossed, or dissolved. On the one hand, they suggest the national, legal and political borders – and the cultural and linguistic differences – that once largely determined our notions of Self and Other. On the other hand, they bring to mind the abstract binaries that shaped comparative musicology and early ethnomusicology, such as Western/non-Western, past/present, sacred/secular, rural/urban, traditional/modern, oral/written, and female/male.

Within the overarching theme of ‘boundaries’, we welcome abstracts that address some of the following sub-topics:

1) Music crossing boundaries

In the first place, the conference will explore how music crosses boundaries, and is inhibited from doing so: how practices, genres, instruments, ideas, and musicians themselves move between contexts, as well as how they are resisted and shut out.

2) The bounds of tradition in music

Another privileged site of investigation will be musical tradition. The very idea of tradition has typically suggested boundaries, and possibilities that lie ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ them. What is held to be outside any given tradition is not always foreign to it, of course, for it often forms the context to which the tradition responds and sets itself in distinction. And, of course, elements from outside are often welcomed.

This theme also offers opportunities to think about the impact that ever quicker global circulation has had on music, about how traditions are patrolled and defended in this context, and about the ways traditions draw (or do not) upon a seemingly overwhelming array of new possibilities. At the same time, the conference offers chances to consider how traditions have always had insides and outsides, and how, in many times and places, boundaries have been subject to negotiation.

3) Crossing categories

The theme of boundary crossing and maintenance presents an opportunity to contemplate ideological boundaries: categories that exist in the musical practices we study and in the way we as scholars have framed these practices: sacred/secular, urban/rural, and so on. How are these categories asserted and challenged? What moves across these lines, and what does not? Are there moments when these borders become more or less significant?

4) Intellectual territories

Last, but not least, the theme of boundary crossing/maintenance also provides an opportunity to contemplate the distinctiveness of French and British (and francophone and anglophone) traditions of ethnomusicology. It allows us to ask whether, just as musical traditions have their insides and outsides, their borrowings and barriers, so too do traditions of scholarly endeavour. One goal of the conference is that it not simply be a place where scholarly boundaries are crossed and defended, but where the dynamics of this border-work are examined critically and reflexively.

The conference will take place 2–5 July 2015 at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris; it will be a bilingual event. We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers and for panels comprising three 20-minute papers. Please submit abstracts in French or English (maximum 250 words), complete with names of authors and titles, to sfeatethnomusicologie.fr by 31 October 2014.



Publication of CFP: 31 August 2014

Submission deadline: 31 October 2014

Inform successful applicants: 15 November 2014

Registration open: TBA


Joint BFE-SFE Program Committee:
Amanda Villepastour and Byron Dueck (BFE), Susanne Fürniss and Fabrice Contri (SFE).


Link to SFE CFP