Music, Mortality, and Ritual Symposium

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Music, Mortality, and Ritual: Registration now OPEN (15th May 2021)

The Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University

Registration now OPEN (

Professor Douglas Davies FBA, Director of The Centre for Death and Life Studies at Durham University, invites your interest in this one-day exploratory symposium on the relationship between Music, Mortality, and Ritual with its prime focus on Music.

For many cultures, music aligns with grief and funerary rites, helps with bereavement, forges connections between life and death, pervades fond personal memories, and assists cultural expressions of society in the presence of death. Amidst and in the aftermath of tragedy and conflict, the ritual-symbolism of music not only helps express collective grief but can be a means of opposing the cause of death, whether through accident, disease or political agency. And what of death and its influence upon musical creativity? How does music help embody individual and collective experiences of death, mark loss, foster mutual bonds, help frame emotions of loss, memory, and potential renewal of life, life values, and hope? What kind of ritual language does music speak to the human heart?

Here at our Centre we invite you join us to explore these and other issues in an open forum of scholars and practitioners. Through a wide range of contexts, cases, methods, and approaches, we hope to foster a mutual flourishing of experience and understanding. Music, Mortality, and Ritual is, then, a symposium which aims to illuminate our human complexity and diversity as people who live with death.

Please find our symposium programme of speakers here.

Registration to attend the symposium can be found here.

The conference will be conducted online due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. There is no cost for attendance.

An abstract booklet will be available soon and sent out to those who have registered via email. Zoom links for the event will be emailed to those registered the day before the symposium.

We very much hope you will join us and we look forward to welcoming you to our symposium. For any enquiries email