Regretfully, owing to the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation, Bath Spa University has been forced to cancel all its events in March and April. The decision has very reluctantly been made, therefore, to postpone the BFE annual conference on ‘Music, Culture and Nature’ to April 2021: same theme, same place. The exact dates will follow soon. All accepted delegates for BFE2020 will be eligible to present in 2021. An extended call for papers for BFE2021 will be announced in the summer.

We will shortly start issuing full refunds for conference registration, and accommodation booked at Newton Park and Green Park House, along with Thursday & Friday evening meals so you do not need to do anything. All refunds will be issued back to the card that was used to make the original transaction. Please note it can take up to 5 working days for the refund to appear on your bank statement. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the Conference and Events Department:



The School of Music and Performing Arts at Bath Spa University is delighted to be hosting the British Forum for Ethnomusicology annual conference, from 16-19 April 2020, in the glorious surroundings of Newton Park, situated 4 miles from the World Heritage City of Bath.

Information on this website will be updated as necessary, especially regarding the additional activities supplementing the main conference programme.

Call for papers is now closed

British Forum for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference 2020

16-19 April 2020, Bath Spa University, Newton Park, Bath, UK.

Call for Papers

As with all BFE Annual Conferences we welcome papers and panels on any aspect of current ethnomusicological research. 

The 2020 theme will be Music, Culture and Nature

In a time of mounting environmental concern, ethnomusicology is well placed to contribute to the achievements of ecomusicology that interrogate the ‘web of interactionsbetween biodiversity, climate and human wellbeing’ (The Guardian, 6 May 2019). Indeed, ethnomusicologists have already provided insights into the cultural dimensions of ecological crisis across a wide range of settings (Grant 2018; Silvers, 2018). Building on the BFE one-day conference ‘Listening for a Change: Music, Environment, Action’ in 2011, this annual conference will develop ethnomusicology’s critical engagement with the most recent research from disciplines such as environmental science, environmental humanities, sound studies and ecomusicology. Recent research, such as Steven Feld’s development of acoustemology that prioritises ‘relational practices of listening and sounding’ (2017: 87) across species and materialities, suggests an alternative to soundscape and sound studies, leading towards an emerging subdiscipline of multispecies ethnomusicology.In line with Ochoa Gautier’s writing (2016), how might the study of music and sound allow us to interrogate further the constitution of ontological categories like ‘nature’ and ‘culture’? How do ethnomusicologists evaluate and interpret sounding practices in human, non-human and more-than-human worlds? How are spiritual relationships with the natural environment expressed through sound and music? What can musical practices or sound worlds tell us about the natural environment (and vice versa) that can inform a socio-ecological transition to less destructive forms of living? By drawing connections between sound, culture and the world’s ecosystemsthis conference provides an opportunity for ethnomusicology to make a meaningful contribution to the challenges we face, including the environmental impact of ethnomusicological activities themselves, and of music consumption.

We invite you to submit papers, panels, roundtables, posters, and films on any aspect of research relating to the theme. We particularly invite presentations that focus on the intersection of ethnomusicology with the following areas: 

  • Interpretations of the relationship between culture and nature and the constitution of such categories; music, nature and intersectional identity (including ecofeminism, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, age, disability); environmental justice, postcolonial politics, indigenous rights, and their intersection;
  • Environmentalimpacts of musical practices (materials and musical instruments), and music consumption (technology and the recording industry);
  • Climate change and environmental determinism; the politics of the Anthropocene; values of conservation, preservation and restoration in culture and nature including the relationship between sustainability, culture and heritage;
  • Human / non-human / environmental interactions through sounding and listening: acoustemology, soundscape ecology, acoustic ecology, and acoustic multinaturalism (after Ochoa Gautier); 
  • The audible and the inaudible: spirits, animals and plants as musical agents and ethnographic subjects; interspecies communication, bioacoustics and biosemiotics.


  • Feld, Steven (2015), ‘On Post-Ethnomusicology Alternatives: Acoustemology’, Francesco Giannattasio and Giovanni Giuriati (eds), Perspectives on a 21stCentury Comparative Musicology: Ethnomusicology or Transcultural Musicology? Udine: Nota, 82-98.
  • Grant, Catherine (2018), ‘Academic flying, climate change, and ethnomusicology: personal reflections on a professional problem’. Ethnomusicology Forum27 (2), 123-135.
  • Ochoa Gautier, Ana María (2016) ‘Acoustic Multinaturalism, the Value of Nature, and the Nature of Music in Ecomusicology’. boundary 2. 43 (1), 107-141.
  • Silvers, Michael B. (2018), Voices of Drought: The Politics of Music and Environment in Northeastern Brazil(Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press)
  • Watts, Jonathan, (2019) ‘Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth’s natural life’. The Guardian. 

Conference website:

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS 1 NOVEMBER 2019. Successful applicants will be notified in December. Please note that all presenters must be members of the BFE:

Proposals are invited for:

  • Papers (20 minutes with 10 minutes for questions)
  • Collaborative presentations (or combination of two papers, one from an ethnomusicologist and one from a practitioner they work with)
  • Panels (3 or 4 linked papers around a theme, totalling 1.5 or 2 hours)
  • Round tables (3 or 4 shorter presentations, around 15 minutes each, followed by a chaired discussion, totalling 1.5 or 2 hours)
  • Lightning talks (7-minute unscripted talks, usually accompanied by slides)
  • Posters
  • Films or other media presentations

Paper and panel abstracts should be submitted to EasyChair.Use the following formats to enable anonymous review:

  • Paper proposals: include the name and email address of the proposer, paper title, and abstract (the latter not exceeding 250 words). The name of the proposer should not appear in the body of the abstract.
  • Organised session proposals: include the names and email addresses of the proposer and the other participants, a title and overall abstract for the session (not exceeding 250 words), and abstracts for each contributor (no more than 250 words each). The names of the proposer and participants should not appear in the body of the abstracts.
  • Roundtable proposals: include the names and email addresses of the proposer and the other participants (the proposer will be assumed to be the chair unless stated otherwise), a title and overall abstract for the roundtable (not exceeding 250 words), and abstracts for each contributor (no more than 250 words each). The names of the proposer and participants should not appear in the body of the abstracts.
  • Poster proposals: include the name and email address of the researcher, poster title, and a description of the material to be presented (not exceeding 250 words). The name of the proposer should not appear in the description.
  • Proposals for films or other media presentations: include the name and email of the proposer, title of film/presentation, abstract (not exceeding 250 words), and length of film/presentation. The name of the proposer should not appear in the body of the abstract.

BFE Student Prize and Bursaries

Student presenters are encouraged to submit their papers for the BFE Student Prize (, awarded annually for the best student paper presented at the BFE annual conference. Students may also apply for a BFE Bursary to assist with the cost of attending the conference. Details concerning the prize and bursaries will be circulated closer to the conference date.

Call for papers deadline: 

1 Nov 2019

Conference dates: 

16 to 19 Apr 2020


Bath Spa University

Newton Park




Conference website: BFE Annual Conference 2020 website