CfP: Historical Perspectives on Music and Seafaring (Open University)

AHRC Research Networking project „Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns“
„Historical Perspectives on Music and Seafaring“
8th February, 2013 – The Open University, London

The call for papers for the first colloquium of AHRC Research Networking project „Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns“ is now open. The event will take place on Friday 8 February 2013 at The Open University in London, 1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden Town, London NW1 8NP.

Music has always had an important presence in cross-cultural encounters around the Atlantic rim (including the Americas, Africa and the Caribbean), both on board ships and in sailortowns. Perhaps the most obvious subjects of study are the sea-songs devised to aid the hard physical labour of work on sailing ships but which also often emerged from experiences on shore, with many recalling the dangers and pleasures of life in port. Beyond these work songs, music has played various roles from mediating in early modern colonial encounters to providing entertainment. Musical traditions and musical instruments have been transported across the Atlantic and have subsequently impacted on music-making in ports and beyond. Music has also disseminated ideas about seafaring to the wider publics, particularly in popular song but also in art music. In modern times, the evolution of transatlantic leisure travel gave music an explicit role as entertainment for passengers but also provided opportunities for the musicians on board to encounter diverse musical styles. The study of music on ships and in sailortowns informs not only our understanding of historical seafaring practices; but also provides a lens through which the nature of cross-cultural encounters and fusions, many of which pre-date mass immigration into Britain and our resultant multicultural society, can be examined.

We welcome proposals for 20-25 minute papers which address the relationships between music (of all styles and genres) and transatlantic seafaring in particular historical contexts. Please send abstracts of 200 words to atlantic-sounds at by Friday 7 December 2012. Decisions will be notified before Christmas. You would be very welcome to attend the colloquium without offering a paper, but please email atlantic-sounds at to reserve your place, as capacity is limited.

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