Humboldt Forum
© SHF / David von Becker
[sound] Listening to the World

May 16, 2018, 7:00 PM

Public Symposium

Captured Sounds – Collecting, Storing, Sharing

@ Haus Ungarn

Free admission, registration required

in English (translated into German)

How do international ethnomusicologists react to new challenges when dealing with immaterial cultural assets in museum collections? How can sounds be presented to the public in an effective manner? How can these sounds be accessed using digital technologies?

In its largest international conference to date the Humboldt Forum will focus for two days on issues relating to ethnomusicology collections, including questions about their history, ethics, globalization, archiving and educating the public.

The Phonogramm-Archiv of Berlin’s Ethnologisches Museum (part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, SMB) and the Humboldt-Universität’s Lautarchiv will join forces in the Humboldt Forum in late 2019; it is these two archives which provide the starting point for Captured Sounds – Collecting, Storing, Sharing. In a total of five panels, twenty-three international experts working in museums, the sciences and music will develop new, interdisciplinary perspectives aimed at addressing the most pressing questions which are now being asked about the future of ethnomusicology.

The symposium, held in English with German translation, is part of the accompanying programme for [sound] Listening to the World.


Please register by 13 May 2018 if you wish to attend both days of the symposium.

[sound] Listening to the world
An archive for Arabic music
[sound] Listening to the world
Exhibition view "[sound] Listening to the world"


Symposium, 16 May 2018

Welcome Address

Panel 1: Situating Science – Situating Listening (History of Ethnomusicology)
Chair: James Davies

Anna Maria Busse Berger, University of California
In search of medieval music in Africa: Marius Schneider and the Catholic missionaries

Thomas Christensen, University of Chicago
The Limits of Philology: Brittany and the Barzaz Breis

Henry Spiller, Department of Music, University of California
Between two worlds: Jaap Kunst, R.M.A. Kusumadinata, and theories of the genesis of Sundanese scales and modes

Robert Stephen Blum, City University of New York
E.M. von Hornbostel as Listener and Scientist

Lunch break

Panel 2: "The Sudden Realization That One Has Gone Back in Time": Robert Lachmann's Recording Journeys through Berlin, Cairo, and Jerusalem
Chair: Ricarda Kopal, Ethnologisches Museum – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Gila Flam, National Library of Israel
Robert Lachmann in Jerusalem: Between Arabic and Jewish Arabic Music

Philip V. Bohlman, University of Chicago
“Understanding of Oriental Music Lies in the Earliest Stages of Its Development”: Robert Lachmann’s Lieux d’histoire and the Historical Record

Mili Leitner, University of Chicago
Racialization on the Radio: Lachmann’s Oriental Music Broadcasts in Comparative Perspective

A.J.Racy, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
The Joint Legacy of Maḥmūd al-Ḥifnī and Robert Lachmann

Coffee break

Panel 3: Music in Globalization and Localization
Chair: Lars-Christian Koch, Ethnologisches Museum – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Harry Liebersohn, University of Illinois
Voyage Round the World: Musical Reflections on a Travelers’ Genre

Martin Rempe, Universität Konstanz
Preservering Sounds in the Era of Decolonization: The UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music of the World

Giovanni Giuriati, Sapienza Università die Roma
Local dynamics and global processes: the case of the tarantella of Montemarano (Southern Italy)

Daniel Morat, Freie Universität Berlin
Selling Sounds. Carl Lindström and the Emerging World Music Market, 1904–1929

Symposium, 17 May 2018

Panel 4: Sound archive, commercial backlist, and cultures of listening. Interfaces of academic and commercial music recording practices
Chair: Sebastian Klotz, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Michael Denning, Yale University
A Noisy Heaven and a Syncopated Earth': The Transcolonial Reverberations of Vernacular Phonograph Music

Saida Daukeyeva, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Don’t Nomads Throat-Sing? Academic Research, Commercial Recordings and the Rise of a World Music Scene in Kazakhstan

Tobias Robert Klein, Berlin/Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Recording Music: On the Intersection of Tapes and Transcriptions

Stefanie Alisch, Bayreuth/Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Broken Beat in London – transitioning between sonic media, transforming markets

Lunch break

Panel 5: Music Information Retrieval (MIR) and the Ethics of Digital Phonographic Archives
Chair: Julia Kursell, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Muziekwetenschap

Julia Kursell, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Muziekwetenschap
Digital Access to Wax Cylinder Recordings after a Century of Silence – the Experimental Recordings in the Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv

Reinier de Valk, zuletzt DANS/KNAW
MIRchiving: Challenges and opportunities of connecting MIR research and digital music archives

Joséphine Simonnot, Centre de Recherche en Ethnomusicologie
Music Information Retrieval and “Musée de l’Homme” Sound Archives: How an ethnomusicological audio database offers the opportunity to develop computational analysis tools

Barbara Titus, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Muziekwetenschap
Retrieving What for Whom? Thoughts about Prospects, Opportunities and Impediments of Digital Sound Archiving

Coffee break

Final discussion


In addition to the symposium, the Humboldt Forum will host an opening concert, the next segment in the Insights series of talks as well as a Live Listening Session.

Prelude concert, 15 May 2018

Prelude Concert to the symposium
"And They are Blossoming From Their Ruins" – Jewish Songs on Stage in the 20th Century
A concert including songs by Darius Milhaud, settings to Brecht’s works by Hanns Eisler and Paul Dessau and film music by Friedrich Holländer. In the second part you can hear “Melodram” written by Viktor Ullmann in Theresienstadt concentration camp.

You can find more information here.

Discussion: Insights, 16 May 2018

Insights – Sound as an object in the Humboldt Forum
In this, the second edition of its Insights series of conversations, the Humboldt Forum focuses on how to present intangible cultural assets in museums. Ethnomusicologists and curators Lars-Christian Koch and Ricarda Kopal will talk to two internationally active musicians and academics, A. J. Racy and James Davies, about sound as object in the Humboldt Forum.

You can find more information here.

Live Listening Session, 17 May 2018

In a discursive listening session with DJ sets, DJ Raph and Gebrüder Teichmann will present the album Sacred Groves. The album is based on ethnographic recordings from the archive of the Iwalewahaus at the University of Bayreuth. DJ Raph has created complex electronic music out of pieces in the archive collected from all over Africa, reflecting his keen interest in the meanings and contexts of the original recordings. Modern electronic bass sounds, African song and traditional rhythms give rise to a timeless musical universe.

In their conversation DJ Raph and the Gebrüder Teichmann will talk about the making of the CD and about the musical forms of the past and present in African countries. Sacred Groves is issued by NOLAND, Gebrüder Teichmann’s label.


The exhibition "[sound] Listening to the World" has been organized by the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss jointly with the Ethnologischen Museum der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin and the Kulturprojekte Berlin as well as with the AMAR Foundation in Beirut, and with the support of the Arab Fund For Arts and Culture AFAC. This exhibition has been made possible thanks to the representative of the Federal Ministry for Culture and Media following a resolution passed by the German Federal Government.
  • Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Kulturprojekte Berlin
  • Stadtmuseum Berlin
  • Amar Foundation
  • AFAC
  • Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media

Spread the word


An archive of Arabic music
March 22, 2018

Opening: "[sound] Listening to the World"

The opening event gives visitors the chance to "tune in" to the exhibition's topics on several frequencies.

Asil Ensemble
April 13, 2018


Autism. The Asil Ensemble for Arab Contemporary Classical Music

Concert at the St. Elisabeth Church

Chamber Ensemble of the New Budapest Orpheum Society
May 15, 2018

Prelude Concert to the symposium

"And They are Blossoming From Their Ruins" – Jewish Songs on Stage in the 20th Century

A concert by the "Chamber Ensemble of the New Budapest Orpheum Society" starts off the symposium "Captured Sounds".

Path of Awareness
June 1, 2018

Soundwalks with katrinem

Path of Awareness

How do you make your own sound score out of your own steps, surrounded architecture and the sounds of the city?

[sound] Listening to the World
June 8, 2018

Conversation and Concert

Preserving Languages

From paper and pencil to sound recordings to the video camera: Language documentation in the 21st century.

Tahir Aydoğdu
June 29, 2018

Concert by Tahir Aydoğdu and the ORBIS Quartett

Music between Empires and Nations

Concert by Tahir Aydoğdu, a pioneer of pioneer of combining classical Turkish with forms of western European classical music.

Setan Jawa. © Erik Wirasakti
September 22, 2018

Silent film with live orchestral music

Setan Jawa – The Javanese devil

The Javanese gamelan ensemble Garasi Seni Benawa and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin will provide live musical accompaniment to the silent film "Setan Jawa".