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International Symposium on Musical Topics and Topic Theory

May 31 - June 1, 2024, Greeley
University of Northern Colorado

From its contacts with worship poetry drama, entertainment, dance, ceremony, the military, the hunt, and the life of the lower classes, music in the early 18th century developed a thesaurus of characteristic figures, which formed a rich legacy for classic composers.  Some of these figures were associated with various feelings and affections; others had a picturesque flavor.  They are designated here as topics—subjects for musical discourse.

Leonard G. Ratner (1980)

Leonard Ratner, pioneer of topical analysis, was one of the first modern scholars to insist on the importance of the musical surface in analysis; not to trivialize musical structure and process, but simply to assert that the character of a piece—the part the listener hears, in other words—is of central importance to “how it works.” Since his ground-breaking work, topical analysis and topic theory has blossomed and this conference is dedicated to exploring topic-related scholarship. We are pleased to feature a keynote address by Melanie Plesch, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne and a plenary address by Jonathan Bellman, University of Northern Colorado School of Music. We encourage submissions from scholars, scholar-performers and students in the areas of topic theory (in its broadest sense) and its many potential applications: music analysis, music and meaning, and performance as applied to a diversity of musics including, but not limited to, Western art music, music and film, popular music, video-game music, etc. Performance-based scholarly presentations are also welcome.

Conference URL  

The conference will be in person, enabling delegates to engage fully in idea exchanges, networking, and social interactions. Virtual presentations may be considered under special circumstances; however, fully virtual attendance will not be a possibility.  Paper presentations will be 20 minutes long, followed by a 10-minute question and answer session.  Lecture recitals are limited to 30 minutes each inclusive of set up, delivery, discussion, and/or questions as appropriate.

Submission materials should be sent to Janice Dickensheets  no later than March 31, 2024 (U.S., Mountain Standard Time Zone). Please specify “International Symposium on Musical Topics and Topic Theory submission” in the email subject.

Abstracts should include the title of the paper but omit author details. In the body of the email, please include author details, institutional affiliation (where relevant), email address, paper title, and any technological requirements, including PowerPoint or Keynote projection, piano or keyboard.   If you are submitting a proposal for a lecture recital, a video link will also be required (see lecture recital submissions below).

Submissions will be evaluated anonymously according to three criteria: the relevance of the author’s central arguments to existing scholarship, the extent to which the paper offers an original contribution to the scholarly community, and the clarity and coherence in which the argument is presented.

Individual Paper Submissions:

To submit an individual paper, please send an abstract with a maximum of 300 words.

Undergraduate students must also submit a letter of support from their primary research advisor.

Lecture Recital Submissions:

To submit an individual lecture recital, please send an abstract with a maximum of 300 words and a link to a video sample to demonstrate the proficiency of the performer. The duration of this recording should be a minimum of 2 minutes, but no longer than 5 minutes. Preference will be given to submissions that include a recording of the proposer performing the actual work(s) being proposed. When this is not possible, the submitted example must be of a comparable style, genre, or historical period. Undergraduate students must also submit a letter of support from their primary research advisor.

Deadline for submissions: March 31, 2024

Notifications of acceptance will be sent to presenters on or about April 8, 2024. 

Preliminary program will be available by late April, 2024

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Lundi 19 Février, 2024