The History of the Swiss Society for Ethnomusicology
The Swiss Society for Ethnomusicology (CH-EM) was founded in 1994 by the members of the ICTM Swiss National Committee, continuing the task of representing Switzerland in the International Council for Traditional Music ICTM. The CH-EM is the main network institution for ethnomusicologists in Switzerland. Its primary activities are a conference in autumn and the annual meeting in spring.
The CH-EM is an academic society, aimed at the promotion of all efforts to document, research, study and distribute traditional and popular music of all countries, including dances and other performing arts (statutes). The society offers a platform for scholars to present their research projects, to get advice from colleagues, and to be assisted in making their research results known to the public. In the past years the exchange between scholars of ethnomusicology – studying locally such different musical expressions as Japanese art music, African praise singing, American Jazz, Oceanian music cultures, Swiss popular music, or European art music – has proven to be an excellent way to reflect on the phenomenon of “music” in a globalised world.
The CH-EM maintains relations to other ethnomusicological institutions in Switzerland, such as the University of Berne with its tertiary education in ethnomusicology, the Ateliers d’ethnomusicologie ADEM in Geneva with its manifold concert programs and intense publication activities, the ethnomusicology courses at the Institut d’ethnologie de l'Université de Neuchâtel with its large collection of musical instruments, the Studio für Musik der Kulturen in Basle, the ethnomusicological teaching at the Haute École de Musique de Genève, and the Music Department at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, the last of which hosts the secretariat of the CH-EM.
In 2002 the CH-EM resumed an earlier collaboration between the ICTM Swiss National Committee and the Society for Traditional Music in Switzerland GVS/SMPS. Until 2020, the two societies co-published a yearly bulletin.
What we do
Ethnomusicologists are interested in how human beings in all cultures relate to sonic experience (whether conceptualised as “music” or not), including their ideas about it, and their intellectual, emotional and their bodily responses to it. Insights are primarily gained through fieldwork, participation and observation, interviews, surveys, and archival work. The rich diversity and interdisciplinarity of ethnomusicological inquiries stem from the diverse perspectives of researchers, as well as of all participants, wether anthropological, sociological, pedagogical, linguistic, philosophical, psychological, musicological, or historical.