International Shakuhachi Festival Prague 2021

Symposium Organized by NEIRO Association for Expanding Arts in cooperation with the Music Theory Department, Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague


Meeting of Worlds:
Traditional Instruments and Their Role in Contemporary Composition

One-day conference
September 9, 2021, the Academy of Performing Arts
Prague, Czech Republic, and online

Keynote speaker: Dai Fujikura

We are launching a call for submission open to composers, researchers, interpreters, who
engage in contemporary music for traditional instruments and theoretically reflect upon it
or compose it; to submit their proposals for a twenty-minute presentation followed by a
ten-minute discussion. If necessary, the presentation can be extended by a maximum 10-
minutes long music sample. The abstracts should not exceed 300 words.
When Claude Debussy heard the Javanese percussion orchestra gamelan some 130 years ago in
Paris, it was a revelation for him that felt like a spark in tinder of the contemporary European
traditions and conventions. After that encounter, nothing remained the same. We dare to say that
as a result it has not only transformed Debussy himself, it has also transformed European music
as such. Since then, the world has become one major transport hub, network and marketplace,
where anyone can find anything from anywhere in the world.
Today, the attributes such as"exotic" basically lack their meaning. We witness a number of, more
or less convincing, syncretisms in the music of various genres. Today, however, because we
know much more about the music of non-western cultures than we did 130 years ago, we are
able to simultaneously experience the vast diversity and the polymorphous interconnectedness of
cultures across the planet. On a deeper musical-structural level, one can look for connections,
where instead of syncretism, one can talk about synthesis. One's own musical identity can be
interrogated either in a relationship to, or without attachment to, or in contrast to one’s own
cultural environment. It is often a surprising discovery that what one is striving for has been
accomplished centuries ago elsewhere.
Traditional instruments of non-European (and also European) cultures play an irreplaceable role
in this creative leaven. What about them attracts contemporary artists? What do these authors
strive for and what creative goals do they achieve by using these instruments? Should non

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western regional instruments enter the European context - be the colorful extension of the
European musical tradition? And should European regional instruments enter the soundscapes of
other cultures - become homogeneous with them? Should these musical worlds coexist, or create
a whole new world altogether? How, if at all, does the musical-cultural context of regional
instruments influence a composer’s way of thinking? Can regional instruments be used without
taking musical-cultural context into account?
At present time that many now call alter - or metamodern, it seems that the above mentioned
phenomena are not only possible, but, in fact, are increasingly happening. What are their pitfalls,
advantages, disadvantages, and practical consequences? Are these phenomena the result of
acculturation, changes in the approach to music as such, or even the shifts of paradigm? These
and many other issues are to be the impetus for sharing at the Symposium at the International
Shakuhachi Festival Prague 2021.