Traditional Tunes and Popular Airs: Transmission, Persistence and Transformation

8 June 2019 @ 10:00 – 17:00
Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield
34 Gell Street
Sheffield S3 7QY
Rebecca Dellow, Julia Bishop

Organised by the Traditional Song Forum and Village Music Project with the support of the University of Sheffield, the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and Soundpost


Building on the success of the first conference in October 2017, a one-day Traditional Tunes and Popular Airs conference will take place at the University of Sheffield on Saturday, 8 June 2019.

These conferences aim to bring together researchers working on ‘traditional’ and ‘popular’ tunes as transmitted and transformed in all manner of musical styles and genres, performance contexts, levels of society, historical periods, and geographical locations.

Proposals are invited for presentations (20 minutes + 10 minutes for discussion) on any aspect of the topic. We welcome a broad range of approaches, including those drawing on ethnographic research to illuminate melodic interrelationships. Relevant areas may include dance, instrumental music, ballad operas and theatrical works, religious music, broadside balladry, blackface minstrelsy, music hall, the pleasure gardens, domestic music-making, national and folk song, and children’s songs.

Possible topics, as they relate to the central theme of tune transmission, melodic persistence and musical transformations, cover

  • Melodic identity and musical perception
  • Continuity and change
  • Learning and memory
  • Musical composition
  • Musical institutions, practitioners and audiences – social divisions, musical g enres, performance practice, experiences of music
  • Copyright, ownership, re-purposing of tunes
  • Sources (tune notebooks, sheet music, recordings, transcriptions, archival collections)
  • Modes of dissemination (e.g. print, oral transmission, notations, the history of music publishing)
  • Tune titles
  • Tune indexing and melodic retrieval
  • Melodic analysis, monophony, harmony, tonality, metre and rhythm
  • Scholarship and theory, e.g. the ‘tune family’ concept, melodic typology, the concept of musical ‘borrowing’, ethnographic, ‘immersive’ and multimodal approaches
  • Tune and song histories
  • Text-tune relations in song
  • Popularity, aesthetics and meaning

As well as papers, we invite 10-minute presentations to a panel session highlighting a particular source/resource/research tool relevant to tune research.

Please send 200-word proposals to the conference orga nisers at the email address below. Deadline for submission: 15 February 2019.