Our CommunitySections

Music and Song

The Music and Song Section of AFS is an interest group dedicated to the folkloristic and ethnographic study of music and song. Its subject matter includes, but is not limited to, the investigation of traditional singing and music-making, the comparative study of folksong texts and tunes, and the ethnography of singers and musicians across musical styles. The section includes the former popular music section of AFS, and the study of popular music is therefore a particular interest of many section members. In a music and song section meeting, ethnomusicologists interested in punk might rub shoulders with old-school ballad scholars, which can make for an exciting lunch!

Every year, the section hosts the Phillips Barry Lecture, an invited lecture on a music or song topic, held as an evening session during the AFS meeting. One benefit of membership in the section is input in this process; each year at the section meeting, speakers are proposed for the following year’s Barry lecture. Join us and contribute your two cents!

The section can also sponsor organized panels on musical topics during any annual meeting; if interested, contact the convener for more information. Finally, the section has on occasion staged concerts during annual meetings; finances would prevent us from doing this every year, but it is possible on an occasional basis.

The section reserves rooms each year for the informal music and singing sessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night during the meetings. Come hang out and contribute a song or a tune—or just listen!

The section has also traditionally awarded the Bertrand H. Bronson Paper Prize for the best student paper on a music or song topic during the previous school year. Although this prize is sometimes dormant, an active prize committee can ensure that it continues. Do your students a favor and join us!

The section uses a Facebook group, the American Folklore Society — Music and Song Section, for the discussion of folk music and song, as well as folkloristic and ethnomusicological approaches to music in general. You don’t have to be a member of the section to be a member of this group. All it takes is a strong interest in folk music and song that tends toward the academic.

Future plans for the music and song section include an edited volume of selected Phillips Barry lectures.

The Music and Song section charges $5.00 dues to cover the costs of the Phillips Barry honorarium, the Bronson paper prize, the occasional concert, and other section costs.

The conveners of this section are Stephen D. Winick and Marge Steiner.

Contact the section conveners at [email protected].

Get Involved

Sign in to the AFS Member Portal to join the section and ensure you’re receiving section communications. All of your section involvement can be managed under My Info.

Click here to pay section dues ($5).

Back to Sections