Welcome to The International Association for the Study of Popular Music UK and Ireland Branch

Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns

Posted: September 29th, 2013 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

International Conference, Friday 14 – Saturday 15 March 2014
Foresight Centre, University of Liverpool, UK

The Atlantic Sounds network aims for a better understanding of music in Atlantic World encounters. It represents a largely unexplored interdisciplinary area, situated around ethnomusicology, popular musicology, maritime history and urban history. This major international conference is the final event of the AHRC-funded phase of the network and builds on three specialised colloquia in 2013. We welcome submissions from speakers who participated in previous events.

Keynote speakers

The conference will be addressed by:

Professor J. Revell Carr, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His research focuses on the importance of travel and commerce in the development of hybrid music and dance cultures around the world. His major interests include sea chanteys, Anglo-American balladry, musical responses to natural disasters, the American folk music revival, and improvisational rock. His first book, Hawaiian Music in Motion: Mariners, Missionaries, and Minstrels, about the development of Hawaiian popular music in the nineteenth century, will be published by the University of Illinois Press in 2014.

Paula J. Johnson, Curator in the Division of Work and Industry at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. She was Project Director and Curator for the museum’s permanent exhibition, On the Water: Stories from Maritime America which opened May 2009. Her research specialisms include American maritime history and traditions, maritime occupations and communities and maritime material culture. She has published books and articles on the fisheries of the Chesapeake Bay, traditional work boats and maritime communities. Johnson has served on boards of various organizations including the Council of American Maritime Museums, the Maryland Humanities Council and the National Historic Landmarks Committee of the National Park Service. She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the International Congress of Maritime Museums.

Call for papers

Abstracts (200 words) are invited for 20-minute papers. The conference language is English. Topics that speakers might address include:

  • musical aspects of seafaring labour, from sea-shanties to cruise ship performance
  • music in maritime heritage and tourism, including museums
  • aspects of both the production and consumption of music on ships
  • distinctions between amateur and professional performance
  • musical elements in migration, cross-cultural encounters and diaspora
  • national identities and nationalism: what are the implications for these of intercontinental musical transmission?
  • the adaptation of sea songs for use in wider popular culture (and vice versa)
  • musical depictions of seafaring
  • attempts to censor, sanitise and silence music and lyrics, and resistance to those efforts
  • music and enslavement, the slave trade, slavery and resistance
  • musical instruments: what was the relationship between the dissemination of music and the manufacture, trade and distribution of instruments?
  • has musical globalisation diversified or homogenised?
  • methodological questions about reconstructing and recapturing music from the era before recordings or notation
  • the place of sea-songs in the folk music revival of the 1960s-70s
  • the impact of racial restrictions on ship and on shore, and the implications of these patterns for the development of ‘underground’ musical pathways
  • the influence of maritime musical tradition on the World Music phenomenon
  • interpretation of the written evidence of song lyrics over extended periods of re-writing and adaptation
  • music in sailortowns, particularly but not exclusively in Liverpool

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and that the project actively encourages papers interpreting our themes widely. We welcome panel submissions and ‘lecture recitals’.

Please email your abstract to [email protected]
The deadline is Friday 1 November 2013. Decisions will be communicated by Friday 8 November.

Grants to graduate students

Thanks to funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, it will be possible to award a number of grants (maximum £500 to any individual) to graduate students presenting papers to as a contribution towards travel and subsistence expenses. These will be payable to registered graduate students: please indicate when submitting your abstract that you would like to be considered for a grant. Priority will be given to students from countries which are usually under-represented in UK academic forums.


We intend to publish selected papers from the International Conference in an edited volume.

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