Universals in Music

Data, issues, perspectives

1st International Colloquium
3th-4th December 2010,
University of Provence, France

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Organised by :
- The Laboratory for the Studies in Sciences of Arts (LESA) of the University of Provence
- The Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (IMéRA)
- The Aix-Marseille University Institute for Teacher Training (IUFM)
With the support of the European Society for the Cognitive Science of Music (ESCOM).


• Themes and objectives •

During the second half of the twentieth century, the question of “universals” in music was considered to be predominantly academic and outdated. Despite this, the question has repeatedly appeared in some of the more remarkable contributions of the last decade (notably Wallin, Merker and Brown, 2000, The Origins of Music; Juslin and Sloboda, 2001, Music and Emotion; Peretz and Zatorre, 2003, The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music; Vitouch and Ladinig, 2009-10, Music and Evolution). This bounce-back is accompanied by a general movement towards bringing the sciences of music into the sphere of the life sciences, especially in relation to the phenomenon of music in evolutionary and functionalist perspectives.
Such a question would appear to be crucial inasmuch as it poses the problem of bioanthropological conditions of musical systems, and more generally articulations of the biological, the psychological, the social and the cultural in the phenomenon of music and its mechanisms.
This field of study nevertheless runs into numerous difficulties of a conceptual, ideological, methodological and institutional nature.
The International Colloquium on the universals in music aims to help reduce these difficulties, by initiating a working cycle intended to promote research (including contradictory research) into this topic through the organisation of events, through publications, and through the initiation and support of collaborative networks that bring together researchers from different disciplines.

Discussions will be centered around five central domains:
- 1. Epistemology, methodology, historical features linked to the question of universals, the concept of “music”;
- 2. Adaptive constraints related to systems of musical expression or communication, or which can be linked to them (physical, biological, ecological, anatomo-physiological, psychophysical, cognitive, psycho-affective…);
- 3. Musical systems in terms of discrete pitch systems (intervals, chords, scales, tonality, modality…), rhythm, metrics, expressive dimensions (intensity, speed, continuum of pitch, articulation, brilliance…), structural and formal dimensions (proportional ratios, micro-macro structure, symmetry, repetition-variation, thematics, form…), melody, timbre, instruments…;
- 4. Sensori-motricity and motricity (vocality, dance), musical « emotion », semantics…;
- 5. Musical systems in terms of musical functions (social, psychological, psychic), contextualization, genres and repertoires, cultural imagination, behavior, knowledge, the transmission of systems…
Epistemologists, systematic musicologists or historians, ethnomusicologists, psychologists (development, cognition, behavior, evolution), neuroscientists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, psycho-acousticians, physicists, biologists, physiologists, ethnologists, zoologists, artificial-intelligence specialists, anthropologists, specialists in education and knowledge transmission, sociologists, linguists and others are invited to share their points of view on these subjects.

• Enrolment •

To enrol, please send an e-mail to : clqmus2010@orange.fr. The enrolment fee is between € 15 and € 65 per person.

• Submission procedure •

The languages of the First International Colloquium are English and French.
Submissions may be for conference-style papers, posters or group work, and should be in English or French. They may relate to all subjects and all types of work linked to the theme of the Colloquium. 30 minutes (20 minutes for the presentation and 10 minutes for discussion) will be allotted to each conference paper. There will be a time allocated for the exhibition of the posters and for discussion with their presenters. Finally, special sessions will be devoted to group work, under the direction of the people or teams who have proposed them.
Each submission should include a 250-word summary and the contact details of the applicant (name, address, institution, e-mail, telephone, fax). Applicants may submit contributions for several of the categories mentioned above.
Proposals will be reviewed anonymously by the scientific committee of the colloquium. They will be selected on the basis of clarity of presentation, and on the relevance and originality of the proposed ideas. They should be sent to:
The summaries of successful applications will be published in a booklet to be distributed to the participants during the Colloquium. The final texts will be published in the Proceedings of the Colloquium.

Date limite pour les soumissions : 30 juillet 2010

Notifications will be given by 25 August 2010

• Area, transport and accommodation •

The Colloquium will take place in Aix-en-Provence (France). Aix-en-Provence is served by Marseille-Marignane Airport, and by the Aix-en-Provence TGV Station (a shuttle bus service links this station to the center of Aix-en-Provence). Further information on transport and accommodation can be obtained by e-mailing clqmus2010@orange.fr

• Scientific committee •

Mario Baroni (Musicology, Italy) Jean-Luc Leroy (Musicology, France)
Steven Brown (Neuroscience, Canada) François-Bernard Mâche (Musico., Comp., Fr.)
Irène Deliège (Psychology, Belgium) Isabelle Peretz (Neuroscience, Canada)
Marcel Frémiot (Musico., Composition, Fr.) Wulf Schiefenhövel (Human ethology, Germany)
Peter Hammerstein (Biology, Germany) Sandra Trehub (Psychology, Canada)
Michel Imberty (Psychology, France) Geraint Wiggins (Artificial intelligence, U.-K.)

Consultant : Bernard Lortat-Jacob (Ethnomusicology, France)