Call for Papers: The Healing and Emotional Power of Music and Dance One-day Symposium


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Hosted by

NOVA Universidade de Lisboa Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas

The Healing and Emotional power of Music and Dance (HELP-MD) project

Instituto de Etnomusicologia –

Centro de Estudos em Música e Dança (INET-MD)

(Please note that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the symposium will be kept online)

Can we explain the power of music and dance to prevent and treat illness? Many individuals around the world, from the shamans of the Indonesian jungle to the music therapists in New York, use music and dance to enhance well-being and to prevent and treat illness, but the complex elements behind this phenomenon are still largely unexplained.
On one side, cognitive scientists try to answer this question by investigating the impact of music on basic human faculties such as memory, emotions and physical abilities in people affected by different types of diseases (Alzheimer’s, autism, etc.). On the other, ethnomusicologists, who focus on the cultural diversity of musical expressions, may offer an important contribution to this emerging field by describing how the relation among music, dance, and health is conceived in other cultural contexts and performance settings.
The project “Healing and Emotional Power of Music and Dance (HELP-MD)” aims to develop an inter-cultural and inter-disciplinary comparison between musical healing practices, in order to determine the common elements among the various cultures. Moreover, the project’s objective is to create a bridge between social and health sciences, to move forward from the current state of the research and offer new and unique insights. We are particularly interested in: a) analysing how in a given context music is used to cure, heal or prevent; b) working on an inter-cultural comparison, and c) integrating methods and hypotheses of the cognitive and the health sciences. The following questions are at the heart of the HELP-MD project:

• Can we find, in different musical and cultural contexts, similarities in the way musical activity, emotional behaviours, and healing practices are linked?

• How does musical practice relate with well-being, illness prevention and/or treatment?

• How do people engage with music and/or dance with the aim of changing their emotional and/or health condition?

• What type of symbolic associations are commonly linked to the emotional and healing power of music and dance?

• If music is widely associated with healing practices in many societies from around the world, could this be due to its potential to elicit and control emotions?
• How are bodily behaviours modified when people identify with a “sonic agent” (an intentional entity stably associated with a musical form)?

The Healing and Emotional power of Music and Dance project calls for papers and creative works expounding this phenomenon.

This symposium will take place online on the 20 May 2021. THEMES Under the theme of “music, healing and emotion”, academics, art practitioners, spiritual leaders and adherents are invited to submit original research abstracts addressing the following sub-themes:

๏ Indigenous reflections

๏ Intercultural and interdisciplinary connections

๏ Traditionalism and ritual ๏ Contemporary use of music and dance in healing practices

๏ The body in sound/musical healing therapies

๏ Music, emotion, and well-being


The Healing and Emotional power of Music and Dance is open to papers that do not directly address the sub-themes above, but draw on the general topic of music, dance, emotion and healing.

KEYNOTES: Professor Emmanuel Bigand (University of Burgundy) Professor Benjamin Koen (Hong Kong Baptist University)

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES We welcome proposals in the form of individual papers, and creative works as detailed below: Individual papers | 20 minutes with 10-minute question time • provide your title, name, institution (if applicable) and paper name • state your sub-theme(s) (if applicable) • submit an abstract of 250 words

How to submit: Please submit your proposal to the organizing committee: Dr Filippo Bonini Baraldi ( and Dr Giorgio Scalici ( IMPORTANT DATES: 31 Jan 2021 – Deadline for abstract submissions
21 February 2021 – Decision on accepted papers 8 March 2021 – Final programme 20 May 2021 – One Day Symposium FEES There will be no fee The language of presentation is English. PUBLICATION We will get in contact with Bloomsbury, or another high-level editor, to publish an edited volume of the Symposium CONTACT & FURTHER INFORMATION For all enquiries, or to make suggestions and provide feedback, please contact the organizing committee. For further details, please visit:

Société française d'ethnomusicologie