Laboratory of comparative musicology and anthropology of music

Canada Research Chair in ethnomusicology

Canada Research Chair in ethnomusicology

The Canada Research Chair in ethnomusicology was created in August 2005 and has a double association to the Music Faculty and to the Department of Anthropology of the Arts and Sciences Faculty of the University of Montreal.

The research projects of the CRC in ethnomusicology study orally transmitted music in Sub-Saharan Africa. They deal with the analysis of musical language, its symbolic significance and the place it holds within a given society. In these projects, music is understood by taking into consideration its performance, learning processes, its endogenous categorization and identification modalities, and the expression of taste or value judgements concerning it. The most intrinsic aspects of musical theory are equally considered, because in many oral traditions the rules that found it are not verbalized. This research is in its most part based on a Sub-Saharan African fieldwork carried out since 1994 in Cameroon and since 2005 among pigmy communities in the Republic of Congo.

At the same time, the CRC gathers researchers and students working on different projects that, while having common themes, allow the exploration of diverse fieldworks and traditions, since our research approach is systematically and emphatically grounded in comparison. This means, on one hand, to confront research objects (in terms of repertoire classification and/or savoir-faire) between many communities that share a common geographical area and that present certain similarities in their social, religious and linguistic orders, and on the other hand, between societies that are far removed in their overall set of traditions. This approach is one of the original points of the Research Chair programme. It proves indispensable for a better understanding of human capacities (both technical and cognitive) and for properly analysing the dynamic potential of any given culture, its evolution, and the factors that may put it at risk or perpetuate it. It is evident that music is strongly connected to the other domains of social sciences, which are usually more experimental when it comes to understanding the procedures at play. This is why our research is based on ethnomusicological skills but draws concepts and methods from linguistics, anthropology, acoustics and neuropsychology of music.

The CRC in ethnomusicology founded the MCAM.

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