Monthly Archives: June 2015

City Hosts Middle East and Central Asia Music Forum

On Friday 22nd May 2015, the Music Department hosted the Middle East and Central Asia Music Forum. This forum has been running twice a year since 2007 under the auspices of the Institute of Musical Research, but has recently moved its base to City. The Forum provides a meeting point for students, researchers and others interested in the musics and culture of the Middle East and Central Asia.

The day was a great success with about 70 people in attendance and a lively atmosphere with plenty of positive feedback and stimulating discussion after papers and in between in lunch and coffee breaks. There were 10 speakers altogether, including both research students and academics from across the UK and abroad. Highlights of the day included presentations by two City PhD students, Steve Wilford and Sam Mackay, whose papers were entitled: ‘Between Thames and Sahara: Representations of Algerian Music in Contemporary London’ and ‘A Shared History? North African Musical Heritage and the Public Sphere in Contemporary Marseille’. Other papers covered such diverse topics as female musicians in Afghanistan and Kuwaiti ṣaut music.

The main conference was followed by a book launch for Laudan Nooshin’s recently published Iranian Classical Music: The Discourses and Practice of Creativity (2015, Ashgate Press) and an evening concert which opened the City Summer Sounds Music Festival: ‘Sounds of the Bosphorous Today’ with sisters Neva and Yelda Özgen from Istanbul playing traditional and contemporary pieces on kemençe (bowed fiddle) and ‘cello.

Abstracts and biographies of speakers can be downloaded here:,-Friday-22nd-May-2015,-City-University-London.pdf

More details on the concert:

More details on Laudan’s book:

More details on the day:


Ahmad AlSalhi (Royal Holloway University of London) talking about the history of ṣaut music in Kuwait


Veronica Doubleday (Visiting Fellow, Goldsmiths University of London) talking about female musicians in Afghanistan

Current and former City students enjoying the tea break


Book launch for Laudan Nooshin's new book

Book launch for Laudan Nooshin’s new book

Laudan Nooshin Presents Keynote Paper in Norway

On 10th June 2015, Laudan Nooshin presented an invited keynote paper at a conference in Norway organised by the Grieg Research School in Interdisciplinary Music Studies and held on the beautiful island of Stord. The conference was hosted jointly with the Norwegian Research School in Teacher Education and the theme was ‘The Art and Science of Improvisation’. Laudan’s keynote, which was entitled ‘Re-Imagining Musical Difference: Creative Process, Alterity and “Improvisation” in Iranian Music from Classical to Jazz’, explored the ways in which the concept of ‘improvisation’ has come to be understood, constructed and imagined by musicians in Iran over the past half century or so.

There were about 150 delegates at the conference, including a number of PhD music students from the UK. Other keynote speakers included Colin Lee, Professor of Music Therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, who completed his PhD in Music Therapy at City University London in 1992.

The Grieg Research School is a collaboration between the University of Bergen, Bergen University College, Stord/Haugesund University College, Volda University College and the University of Stavanger. It hosts two conferences each year which bring together PhD students in a range of music disciplines, including music education, ethnomusicology, music therapy, musicology, performance and composition. Students have an opportunity to get feedback on their work and each conference includes a number of invited keynote speakers.


Laudan Nooshin presents Keynote


Conference Venue


View from the boat …



Venice Screening

Dr Miguel Mera’s audiovisual dance composition, Morriña, will be presented at  the Venice Experimental Cinema and Performance Art Festival  at the Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi from the 17th to the 27th of June 2015. It will be the first in a cycle of three events in June, July and August 2015.


The festival is focused on the relationship between body and space, and the hybridization of identities within different cultural, physical, social, and urban settings. Morriña explores relationships between music and bodily movement, examines how communities hold onto perceptions of particular identities, and considers how memory and nostalgia are distorted over time.




Work Placement at the British Library

Jordan Barnes, MA Ethnomusicology student

Since March 2015, I have undertaken a work placement for two days a week in the World and Traditional Music section of the British Library. At first it was a little overwhelming – security scanners, winding basement corridors, and shelves and shelves of rare and priceless books, manuscripts and sound recordings – but also very humbling and motivating. I spent the first couple of weeks settling in and getting to know the archive, the software, and the staff who are extremely helpful and informative. I then started working on the archive of recordings from WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance), an annual music festival established in 1980 by Peter Gabriel to showcase international artists and music, and to encourage cross-cultural collaborations. WOMAD has since evolved into a major festival both in the UK and internationally, with events throughout the world. The UK festival has been recorded by the British Library since 1985, making this year the 30th anniversary of the WOMAD–BL collaboration. To mark this, the library is planning to celebrate at this year’s festival with CDs showcasing top past performances, past festival guides and art on display, with plans also for sound and information booths allowing visitors to browse and learn about the archive.

My role as an intern has been to document and categorise recordings from the festival. Through this I have learnt plenty of new names, developed software skills and helped organise over 2,200 recordings! This work has been a nice introduction to the archive, the festival, and the BL as a whole. If I need additional information, I can consult the physical archives, including festival guides from the 1980’s and 90’s. Through this work I have not only learnt a great deal about new music, but have also developed skills of archiving and recording. Another task I have been involved in is selecting, splicing and documenting tracks from WOMAD artists over the years, to be playbacked between performances at this summer’s festival. After talking to curators and recordists who have been attending the festival for many years, I added my own personal favourites from the archive. I then listened to and chose one or two tracks from each performance, creating different folders correlating with the time of day, the atmosphere of the particular tent and the mood of the audience in mind. If Seun Kuti and his band Egypt 80 are playing one night, the playback prior to the performance may include upbeat pieces with strong rhythms and brass. But if S:um is hypnotising the audience in the Siam Tent, the pre-concert music may likely include some relaxing ragas, floating ambience and hazy melodies of performances past.

Jordan Photo

Needless to say, I’ve really enjoyed working on this project, not only from my perspective as a musician, DJ and fan, but also as a student. There are also some great perks to a work placement at the BL including being able to explore the vast archive at any time of day: taking a break to dive into an old book or recording is encouraged by staff, indeed is a vital part of the placement experience as is being surrounded by some incredibly knowledgeable ethnomusicologists, engineers, historians and archivists. Picking the brains of my co-workers on a daily basis is one of my favourite parts of the job. I try to start a conversation with someone about their work, the library or just their interests each day I’m there. The amount of knowledge this place holds physically and intellectually is truly astounding and deeply humbling. I will miss it when my placement finishes, although they might have a hard time kicking me out!

Studio where I compile playlists for WOMAD playback

jordan 1


One of the many listening opportunities that I have throughout the day

jordan 2