Barbarian Pipes and Strings Reconsidered: Negotiating Authenticity in the Musics of China: Transcultural Perspectives, 25th International CHIME Conference


25th International CHIME Conference

01. – 04. October, 2023

Venue: Centrum für Asienwissenschaften und transkulturelle Studien (CATS), Voßstraße 2, 69115 Heidelberg

Photo: The poster from our first Heidelberg CHIME meeting in 1998. Our upcoming meeting in October 2023 will be the 25th anniversary edition of CHIME, 25 years after!

Exactly 25 years after the last International CHIME Conference in Heidelberg that focused on “Barbarian Pipes and Strings,” we return to the city by the Neckar and the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS) that now houses the CHIME Collection to reconsider musical practices in China from a transcultural perspective.

From Confucian debates about the “musics from Zheng and Wei” to more contemporary disputes on “lascivious musics” and “spiritual pollution”—Sunny Side Kong Yiji 阳光开朗孔乙己just being one of the more recent examples—from controversies over ownership and copyright in old and new folksong or regional opera; to complaints about exoticism on the one hand and self-orientalism on the other—the question of how dangerous, strange or (in)authentic sounds and musics are and who “owns” them, has been important to music-making in China—even while melodies, instruments and sounds from afar have, for the longest of times, been considered some of its most “typical” elements. In this conference, we suggest to explore, how in China’s music worlds “authenticity” has been claimed, contested and negotiated

– through and during transcultural processes and encounters,

– through, by and with technology and media,

– in religious or stately rituals,

– in gendered performances,

– in moments of cataclysmic change,

– in the context of institutionalized (and politicized) musicking,

– through spatial delineations,

– in philosophical, literary or legal writings,

– in reference to other sound cultures and environments,

– in everyday life.

As is usual for CHIME conferences, the conference program will be accompanied by a variety of concerts, exhibitions***, and film screenings—in the offing for you are a new “Turandot” performed with Chinese puppets in the Museum of Ethnology and a sounding exhibit on the Silk Road. You will also be able to see an exhibit of that museum’s treasure grove of musical instruments from China (“Chinese Barbarian Pipes and Strings”), you will be able to witness a rethinking of Gustav Mahler’s use of Chinese poetry in Lied von der Erde, through the eyes of contemporary Chinese poets and composers, the sounds of the Zheng redeveloped in conversation with Raga percussion, you will hear traces of memory – from Book of Songs to Ukrainian poetry- reworked into music, we will be screening (and discussing) Wang Bing Man in Black and Ke Yongquan (et al.) The River in Me, and there will be plenty of opportunities for musicking in jam sessions at the CATS.

The languages of our meeting are English and Chinese. We very much encourage speakers to bring summaries or translations of their presentations, which we will make available to all conference participants.

This Year’s Organising Committee for this 25th CHIME Conference, consists of Barbara Mittler, Odila Schröder, Petra Thiel (all from Heidelberg), Wang Xidan (Music Archaeology Institute of Zhenzhou University, China), Li Huan (School of Humanites and Social Sciences´, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, China), and Frank Kouwenhoven (CHIME).

Conference Program and Abstracts:

You may find the conference program here.

You may find all abstracts here.

Please note that the conference program will be updated on a regular basis.


Registration is now open, you find the registration form here. Please register before September 10th.


The deadline for submitting abstracts has passed, but anyone interested in joining the conference is very welcome. If you want to participate, please register before September 10th here.

***CATS Chinese Music Collections

The Library of the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies at Heidelberg University holds an extensive collection of musical treasures—recordings, scores, ephemera, and secondary literature on Chinese music. It brings together the CHIME Collection for Chinese Music Research—a large collection comprising everything from ethnographic to contemporary musical records—field video recording, scores, books, and more, the C.C. Liu Collection of Modern and Contemporary Chinese Music—an extensive collection of scores of contemporary musics from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China; the Liu Yuan Collection of Chinese Music—a collection of more than 2000 records reflecting the variety of musics available in mainland China throughout the 1950s and into the 1990s and finally the Steen Collection of PRC Rock and Pop music since the 1980s—and more: the music collections are growing by the day. A small exhibit in the CATS Library introduces these collections. 

CHIME Conference:

Centrum für Asienwissenschaften und transkulturelle Studien

Voßstraße 2

69115 Heidelberg


Völkerkundemuseum vPST

Hauptstr. 235

69117 Heidelberg


Aula der Alten Universität

Grabengasse 1

69117 Heidelberg

GuestHouse Heidelberg

Bergheimer Str. 24

69115 Heidelberg

(Please note: No breakfast served.)

The Heidelberg Exzellenz Hotel

Rohrbacher Str. 29

69115 Heidelberg

Hotel Krokodil

Kleinschmidtstr. 12

69115 Heidelbreg

Hotel Tannhäuser

Bergheimer Str. 6

69115 Heidelberg

Hotel Anlage

Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 32

69117 Heidelberg

Hotel Backmulde

Schiffgasse 11

69117 Heidelberg

StayCity Aparthotels Heidelberg

Speyerer Str. 7-9

69115 Heidelberg

sevenDays Hotel BoardingHouse

Eppelheimer Straße 14
69115 Heidelberg