bandeau_actu musicologie

édition du 22 avril 2023 —

Sung Intoxication: Drinking Songs from Antiquity to the Present

23-24 May 2024, Siegen
University of Siegen (Germany)
Deadline for abstracts: March 20, 2023

The drinking song is a genre of enormous historical scope, extending in Europe alone from ancient Anacreontics and the cult of Dionysus to »Fathom the Bowl« or Pink’s »Raise Your Glass« and beyond; along with love songs and religious songs, it belongs to the core stock of song culture. The spectrum of aesthetic registers ranges from the monophonic popular song to complex part-songs, and thus corresponds to a complex picture with regard to different actors and their social spaces, or to different forms of practice and ambitions of lyrical reflexivity.

While especially the convivial drinking cultures of various epochs have
been scholarly studied in a very well-founded way, drinking songs as an overarching phenomenon have rarely been examined by musicology, despite the abundance of perspectives that open up here at the intersections of music, poetry, convivial culture, and everyday history. The conference, which is nevertheless interdisciplinary, aims to make up for this omission.

On the basis of four categories, a kind of genre model could be outlined, which would have to be sharpened and differentiated in the conference:

I. Situativity. Drinking songs potentially connect to the practices they
are currently singing about. Drinking and singing are two activities that
usually occur simultaneously and may be associated with other practices such as toasting or proposing a toast. This is reflected in the text and music in a performative, action-related dimension.

II. Structural Collectivity. The social context of the drinking song is a conviviality that usually unites people of a specific social connection, such as members of a guild, a Masonic order, or a circle of friends. The frequent polyphony of the repertoire, for example in chorally sung refrains, also stands musically for structural collectivity. In the song lyrics, it is often not a »Lyrical I« that speaks, but a »Lyrical We«.

III. Expression and regulation of social identity. Because of the collectivity, a moment of social identity is more inherent in the drinking song than, for example, in the love song. The »we« in the drinking song can often be socially contextualized, and, in the context of earlier epochs, it must also mostly be addressed as homosocial, namely male. In addition to the praise of the drink and the expression of sociable cheerfulness, this category may include nationalistic, erotic, and inspirational-poetological aspects, as well as the reflection of one’s own mortality.

IV. Physical process. The body is particularly affected by the practice of drinking; after all, the progression from light exhilaration to motoric and mental loss of control is a physiological process. Music, as a particularly physical art, has considerable potential for representation in this regard, and this has certainly been exploited compositionally; for example, in depictions of increasing blurriness, or in a reliance on deliberately simple, robust structures.

This interdisciplinary and international conference aims at exploring the phenomenon of the drinking song from a variety of perspectives––especially from the fields of musicology, literature and cultural studies. Thus, on the one hand, our concern is to make music audible as an important component of drinking culture(s) in interdisciplinary discourse, and on the other hand, to deal with a topic for the subject of musicology in which musical and social structures are particularly closely related to each other and which is therefore suitable to stimulate joint reflection among established sub-disciplines in the field, such as historical musicology and the sociology of music.

Proposals for papers should be submitted to


by March 20, 2023.

They should consist of a short abstract of no more than 300 words and a note on the education and academic affiliations of the contributor. A decision on inclusion will then be made in mid-April. We will seek funding to reimburse travel and accommodation expenses, but kindly note that we cannot guarantee such funding at this time.

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Samedi 22 Avril, 2023