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Children musicians and musical childhood

Enfants musiciens et enfance musicale

Conference of the French Society for Ethnomusicology

Journées d'étude de la Société française d'ethnomusicologie

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Published on Monday, January 18, 2016 by Elsa Zotian

Summary

The conference of the French Society for Ethnomusicology propose to focus on the children's musical world in different cultures, the recovery and re-appropriation of themes from children's repertoires by adult musicians and on the representations of the musical childhood in different societies and cultural groups. Is a child, as we often believe, a malleable being from a cognitive and sensitive perspective? To what extent this conception checks in the observations and experiences of researchers, educators and practitioners of music? To address these questions, we will refer to ethnomusicology and child's psychology but also to historical musicology, anthropology, cognitive sciences and educational sciences.

Announcement

Argument

Often considered secondary, children's repertoires encountered on different ethnomusicologists’ fieldworks haven't been studied so much. Most of research on this topic remain  old  (Blacking, Mukuna and more recently Vallejo) whereas disc production is more active (particularly Corpataux). In other disciplines, links between childhood and music could have been the purpose of various investigations emphasizing either psychological, didactic, or political dimensions of children's musical practices and production, thereby generating plural and contradictory representations on childhood.

This year, the conference of the French Society for Ethnomusicology propose to focus on the children's musical world in different cultures, the recovery and re-appropriation of themes from children's repertoires by adult musicians and on the representations of the musical childhood in different societies and cultural groups. Is a child, as we often believe, a malleable being from a cognitive and sensitive perspective? To what extent this conception checks in the observations and experiences of researchers, educators and practitioners of music? To address these questions, we will refer to ethnomusicology and child's psychology but also to historical musicology, anthropology, cognitive sciences and educational sciences.

The theme of children and music raises questions about transmission, practices and musical skills earmarked for this age. Often associated with simplicity, children's music can enlighten analysis from adult's music but also operate in a separate category. In this sense, initiatory repertoires appear often isolated from the rest of the musical legacy. However, if the nursery rhymes, fabulettes and other musical games are widely represented in different cultures, children are also involved in musical practices that concern the whole community. The boundaries, if they exist - as there is not always a children's repertoire (Baily and Doubleday) -, are porous, as shown in the case of collection of popular songs in Europe since the nineteenth century, which mixed  different repertoires but also aesthetic, educational, political and religious considerations, popular songs sometimes using childhood's for certain aims (Laborde).

How is the young musician considered? Does he always have to be awakened, as it is said in musical awakening, the first level of musical learning of French music schools? What do children's songs say about the adult world? How did they integrate its codes or how do they play with them?

The question of children musicians should be analysed, from projects handled by the institutions (conservatories, music schools, associations) and by the programs labelled "Young Audiences" by French and foreign cultural institutions, given that interculturalism often translate through music in several countries, primarily by children. Fueling these projects and programs means choosing and arranging repertoires and pedagogies but also, more generally, contributes to production and perpetuation of a model of "living together" to be transmitted to new generations. What are these choices and strategies and how do they organize children's world? How does musical learning influence the modes of individual and collective recognition of children?

On another side, we will consider how the child is thought in adult repertoires. Regarding the meta-language, the vernacular terminologies sometimes invest the lexical field of filiation. Thereby, child, mother, father, are invited to name the different components of instrumental ensembles (Kersalé), parts of polyphony, or to name a pattern and its variations (Arom).

We question ourselves on the musical reminiscences of childhood. As it happens that adults gather around repertoires of children's songs when they recover them and reinvent them, playing with the familiarity that gives the common memory of these songs (Bashir-Loopuyt). Similarly, when a musician is speaking about himself, he often begins by recalling the first musical emotion that he has felt during childhood or the first instrument he received as a gift when he was a child.

Furthermore, to quote Maurice Bloch (2013), childhood is the place to discuss about the cognitive and the ethnographic. During this period, the child is predisposed to undergo the assimilation of concepts. Developmental psychologists, for their part, recognize that "the production of spontaneous songs and sound exploration" will disappear in the course of early childhood and support the idea of the autonomy of musical intelligence based on studies done on child cases (Gardner 117). At a time when development of cognitive science and brain imaging overturn our understanding of intelligence, learning, imagination and development of sociability (Lhérété and Bedin), the child musician brings us to a humanity shared, considering childhood as a relatively preserved time. Thus, lullabies, even if they have already been the subject of a number of studies (e.g. Labussière), deserve to be examined one more time as they seem to respond particularly to both cultural constraints and universals.

The child may also be considered as different for two reasons: a child is both a being from another culture and a child. Heloise Lhérété and Véronique Bedin reminded us that there is still half a century, "children were considered as a separate species, an exotic and primitive tribe living in another mental universe" while Boris Cyrulnik talked about adultocentrismo (Lhérété and Bedin: 55: 8). So in a certain way, doing a research on "how children think as a musician" is a double challenge.

To conclude, the history of our discipline could be debated in terms of the concept of childhood. Indeed, speeches and studies from the nineteenth century rely on the dichotomy that opposes children to adult and, from that point, discuss of music as if they were at the stage of childhood (Morel -Borotra). The artists and intellectuals of the time were really interested by childhood, in positive way - considering that this time of childhood is the only time for experiences, and mobilizing "aesthetic emotions of the child "resurrected before the discovery of" sensitive otherness "(Fabre) -, or negative (childishness = childhood). Thus the musical childhood is both an epistemological and aesthetic issue.

Bibliography

  • Arom, Simha Polyphonies et polyrythmies instrumentales d’Afrique centrale ; Structure et méthodologie, volume 2, Paris, Selaf, 1985
  • Bachir-Loopuyt, Talia, « Des identités pour rire ? Sur une plaisanterie bavaro-mongole et la question du multiculturalisme dans l’Allemagne d’aujourd’hui », Cahiers d’ethnomusicologie n°26 (2013), p. 209-229   
  • Baily, John et Doubleday, Veronica, « Modèles d’imprégnation musicale en Afghanistan », Cahiers de musiques traditionnelles 1 (1988), p. 112-124
  • Blacking, John, Venda children’s songs : a study in ethnomusicological analysis, Londres,The University of Chicago Press, 1967 
  • Bloch, Maurice, L’Anthropologie et le défi cognitif, trad. de Olivier Morin, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2013
  • Corpataux, Francis, 21 CD Arion dans la collection « Le chant des enfants du monde », depuis 1993  
  • Fabre, Daniel, « « C’est de l’art ! » : Le peuple, le primitif, l’enfant », Gradhiva n° 9 (2009), p. 4-37.
  • Gardner, Howard, Les formes de l’intelligence, trad. Jean-Paul Mourlon, Paris, Odile Jacob, R/2010
  • Kersalé, Patrick (réalisateur), « Ensemble de 4 gongs Bunong (Cambodge) », site Geozik, 2013 :http://www.geozik.com/ENSEMBLE-DE-4-GONGS-Bunong-Cambodge_v178.html
  • Laborde, Denis, Les Musiques à l’école, Paris, Bertrand-Lacoste, 1998
  • Labussière, Annie, « Bercer en chantant : un geste universel ? Un parcours analytique du plan de l’expression », Topicality of musical universals, sous la dir. de J.-L. Leroy, Paris, Editions des Archives Contemporaines, 2013, p. 199-207
  • Lhérété, Héloïse et Bedin, Véronique (dir.), L’Enfant et le monde ; Psychologie de l’enfant ; Etat des lieux, Auxerre, Sciences Humaines Editions, 2015
  • Morel-Borotra, Natalie, « Le chant et l'identification culturelle des Basques (1800-1950) », Lapurdum, Revue d’études basques (2000) n° 5, p. 351-381
  • Mukuna, Kazadi wa, The Characteristic criteria in the vocal music of the luba-shankadi children, Tervuren, Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale, 1972
  • Vallejo, Polo, Mbudi mbudi na mhanga ; L’univers musical de l’enfance des Wagogo de Tanzanie, Polo Vallejo, 2004

Submission guidelines

Each proposal should include :

  • Author’s last et first name ;
  • Author’s institutional affiliation and profession (please specify if you are a student) ;
  • Presentation title ;
  • Presentation abstract (around 250 words).

to : sfe@ethnomusicologie.fr 

The deadline is February 20th, 2016.

The conference of the French Society of Ethnomusicology 2016 will be hold at the Cité de la Musique - Philharmonie of Paris, from 27th to 29th May 2016

Scientific Committee

  • Marta Amico (post-doctorante Anthropologie/Ethnomusicologie, programme « Fernand Braudel », Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme de Paris / Union Européenne – Programme Action Marie Curie)
  • Talia Bachir-Loopuyt (post-doctorante Ethnomusicologie, Centre Interdisciplinaire d’Etudes et de Recherche sur l’Expression Contemporaine (CIEREC), Université Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne)
  • Anne Damon-Guillot (maître de conférences Musicologie/Ethnomusicologie, CIEREC Université Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne)
  • Gérald Guillot (maître de conférences Sciences de l’Education, Université de Lausanne)
  • Anitha Savithri Herr (doctorante Ethnomusicologie, Paris-IV)

Organizing Committee

  • Anne Damon-Guillot (maître de conférences Musicologie/Ethnomusicologie, CIEREC Université Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne)
  • Anitha Savithri Herr (doctorante Ethnomusicologie, Paris-IV)
  • Olga Velitchkina (trésorière SFE)

Places

  • salle des colloques - Cité de la Musique-Philharmonie de Paris
    Paris, France (75019)

Date(s)

  • Saturday, February 20, 2016

Keywords

  • musique, enfants, ethnomusicologie

Contact(s)

  • Anne Damon-Guillot
    courriel : anne [dot] damon [at] univ-st-etienne [dot] fr

Information source

  • Anne Damon-Guillot
    courriel : anne [dot] damon [at] univ-st-etienne [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Children musicians and musical childhood », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, January 18, 2016, https://calenda.org/353423

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