International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

4th Symposium of the ICTMD Study Group on African Musics

4th Symposium of the ICTMD Study Group on African Musics

Online 8th-12th of July 2024


The SGAM Executive Committee is delighted to announce that the 4th symposium of the ICTMD Study Group on African Musics will be held online from the 8th to the 12th of July 2024.


The topics of the symposium will be:

1. African Musics in a Digital Age.

2. Reimagining Musics of Africa in our Evolving Society.

3. Transmission, teaching and learning of African musics and dances in local communities and national curricula (primary and secondary schools, and academia)


1. African Musics in a Digital Age.

Digital technology has tremendously transformed the African musical experience and how it is represented in the world today. Digital innovations introduced a gradual transition from analogue to digital musical practices. The digitalization revolution caught across every area of African music experience and performance practices, such as community festivals, music education, composition, production, presentation, dissemination / marketing and consumption culture. The transition to digital musical culture disrupted the perception of African music as communal property; music in Africa has suddenly become a commodity. Digital technology contributed to a turn towards a culture of musical consumption rather than of music playing. However, digital inventions opened new potentials in the socio-economic development in Africa. Digital platforms have in the last two decades expanded the growing popularity of African musical genres and encourage collaborative performances among African artists and their counterparts around the world. There is no doubt that musicians and music industries in Africa have exploited existing opportunities in the advancing global digital economy, but not without challenges. There has been significant incensement in piracy activities in the African musical scene; unethical use and distribution of musical work, unlicensed broadcast and sharing of musical works without permission. The digital transformation of African musics is still ongoing hence, the challenges and prospects of African musics in the digital age remain a pertinent issue for discourse.


2. Reimagining the Musics of Africa in our Evolving Society.

Changes in African musics and dances have been a fruitful research topic since the 1960s, primarily investigating the transformations taking place in indigenous repertoires as a consequence of migrations, external influences due primarily to colonization and deep mutations in social and cultural patterns. Later, new streams of scholarship focused on neo-traditional and popular music in Africa revealing the powerful and rich diversity in the elaboration of indigenous repertoires with other influences. Societies in Africa have kept changing under various internal as well as external forces, such as globalization, new faces of colonialism and forms of resilience, intra- and extra-continental migrations, the mass media and the greater fluidity of music through digital data and the Internet. How have “traditional”, neo-traditional and popular musics and performing arts moved along the most recent social changes? Which processes (neglection, negotiation, re-elaboration, adaptation…) have been and are at play in African music scenes? Are there ways of re-thinking, and re-imagining African musics in the light of contemporary challenges and instances?


3. Transmission, teaching and learning of African musics and dances in local communities and national curricula (primary and secondary schools, and academia)

African musics and dances are increasingly taught outside the community context from which the various traditions originate. This raises questions about the ways in which teaching is organised and about the effect it has on practices in the communities of origin.

Where are African musics and dances taught (primary schools, secondary schools, universities, non-institutional associations)? Who receives the teaching (members of the community, pupils and students from different backgrounds, people with a passion for Africa)? What is taught outside the context and to an audience with a heterogeneous cultural background? How and by whom are curricula developed? What happens to the indigenous knowledge system concerning the social and religious performance context of music and dance? How are the issues of legitimacy and authority of the holders of knowledge and know-how managed concerning the traditions and social obligations associated with them? To what extent are the music and dance standardised? What effect does this have on practices in the communities of origin? How is authenticity handled? What room is there for innovation and adaptation?

The contributors are invited to share their thoughts and answer any of these questions based on their own experience.




We encourage proposals for contributions to one of the three topics as individual papers or as panels (minimum 3 presenters plus a chair). In both cases, an abstract per person of max. 500 words for each contribution is due by the 31st of March 2024.


The primary language of the symposium is English, but presentations in French and Portuguese are accepted as well. In this case, we ask the presenter to produce a PowerPoint in English.

The abstracts should be sent in English and – if necessary – with a copy of the French or Portuguese original.

Please send your proposal to the Secretary of the SGAM, Linda Cimardi,


The notification of acceptance will be sent out between the 15th and 20th April 2024.

There will be no conference fee, but we remind you that each presenter has to be an ICTMD member in good standing. Opportunities for funded memberships can be found on the ICTMD website at

If you have any questions about the symposium themes or abstract submission, please feel free to reach out to the SGAM Executive Committee.