cfp: Translation, Interpretation, Adaptation

Call for papers – Conference

Translation, Interpretation, Adaptation
Music Between Latin America and Europe, 1920 to 2020

(Musicology, Translation studies, Cultural studies, Media studies, Latin American studies)

Dr Christina Richter-Ibáñez (Tübingen University, Institute of Musicology)

in cooperation with Trayectorias

6th to 8th of October 2021, Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Music is created in a specific context: Music is shaped by the prevailing sound environment, which, in turn, is influenced by the music. Music requires instruments, techniques and skills of the musicians involved. When music or musicians leave their own language and sound context, translation processes often occur: music is performed by interpreters, orchestrated or technically processed, mixed with other styles, heard and perceived in many ways. Vocal music is provided with texts in new languages. The original meaning can be changed profoundly. The linguistic, musical and medial rewriting of existing music is a common practice and a basic principle to be found in music history. Music is therefore characterized by procedures of self-reference, arrangement, parody, re-orchestration, revision, variation, and improvisation. It is in constant flux. In scientific terminology, these terms and others, such as borrowing, quotation or cover, refer to translation processes in various ways. They are extremely diverse and difficult to grasp conceptually, as Silke Leopold has noted with regard to the diverse history of adaptation (Leopold 1992).

Definitions of translation in reference works are more one-sided: In the encyclopedia Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Herbert Schneider covered the history of music theatre, oratorio and song translation under the keyword “Übersetzung”, pointing out the manifold problems of these, but he made no reference to translation theory or to the mobility of musicians, musical ideas and objects (Schneider 2008). Conversely, there was often no reference to music in handbooks of translation studies (Baker and Saldanha 2009, Dürr 2004 is an exception). For a long time, musicology was largely absent from the debates and cultural studies publications on the “translational turn”, although authors such as Doris Bachmann-Medick did mention examples from the field of music (Bachmann-Medick 2006). When music was discussed, opera usually served as an example for various forms of translation (Bassnett 2014, 177f.). The importance of translation theory for musicology was first systematically addressed by Lucile Desblache in her monograph Music and translation. New mediations in the digital age (Desblache 2019). In addition, translocal approaches, which include the concept of translation but do not explicitly discuss it, can be found in numerous individual studies on Latin American music (for example, in Mendívil and Spencer Espinosa 2018).

This conference aims to initiate a dialogue between translation, Latin-American and music research in order to discuss the use of the term “(cultural) translation” for historically-oriented musicology and to focus on musicians as translators. In doing so, the conference ties in with the events of the research network Trayectorias, which has been investigating processes of cultural transfer across the Atlantic since 2015 and has a large, international network in South, Central and North America, as well as in Europe. However, while “Trayectorias” has primarily been oriented to music history, setting the year 1945 as a caesura and examining temporal sections up to the year 2000, the upcoming conference broadens the historical framework to the past 100 years in order to highlight continuous or longer-term processes beyond the Second World War. Instead of a narrow historical approach, the focus will be on the methodology and examination of the concept of translation in interdisciplinary discussions.

Individual presentations can range from the interlingual translation of song texts, theoretical writings and textbooks to intramusical processes, such as arrangement, stylistic developments, organology, music education, compositional technique and performance practice, to intersemiotic translation, such as the representation of music in literature, (popular) arts and media.

The conference will be held mainly in English. The format of the conference cannot yet be planned due to the pandemic. In case of an in-person event, costs for travel and accommodation will partially be covered.

Please submit your proposal (500 words in English, Spanish, Portuguese or German) for papers (20 minutes presentation + 10 minutes discussion) or other formats (please specify) by 15 April 2021 to:

Notification of acceptance by 30 April 2021.