Research projects

Circulating Knowledges | 2020–2023

Knowledge Transfer between Academia and Traditional Music Cultures in Colombia and Brazil

The aim of the project "Circulating Knowledges" is to document intangible cultural heritage as music and performance traditions in Colombia and Brazil in their historical connection to African traditions and their further development, and to communicate and research them in the local contexts. The cooperation uses new formats to transfer traditional music knowledge from the South Pacific and Caribbean regions of Colombia and the Brazilian Recôncavo da Bahia into academic formats and languages. Through the collaborative development of field-based video learning modules, teachers and students engage in a lively exchange with culture bearers and their cultural practice on the ground. This enables a synergetic circulation of different knowledge within and outside academia.

New didactic formats and video archive

The UNESCO Chair on Transcultural Music Studies at the FRANZ LISZT Weimar University of Music is coordinating the four-year project (2020–2023) with the Universidad del Valle of Cali (UdV) in Colombia and the Universidade Federal do Recôncavo da Bahia of Santo Amaro (UFRB) in Brazil. The trilateral project is part of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) programme "Subject-Related Partnerships with Institutions of Higher Education in Developing Countries". The aim is to improve and expand teaching in the partner countries as well as to build structures and develop capacities at the partner universities.

Sustainable study programmes

Numerous symposia, seminars and excursions are planned within the framework of the DAAD project, as well as the establishment and expansion of archives. A four-day international conference will be organised in Weimar for the final evaluation and dissemination of the project results to a wider academic audience from Europe and abroad (2/2023).

Sponsor: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
Partners: Universidad del Valle of Cali (UdV), Faculty of Music, Colombia and
Universidade Federal do Recôncavo da Bahia of Santo Amaro (UFRB), Centre for Culture, Languages and Applied Technologies, Brazil

Applied Musicology – Jewish and Arabic Music | 2020–2021

Caravan Orchestra

A core objective of the research project "Applied Musicology - Jewish and Arabic Music" is to make transcultural processes visible by means of a common repertoire of Jewish, Ottoman and Arabic music and its application in the project "Caravan Orchestra & Choir". 

The Caravan project will be funded by the Thuringian Ministry of Science in 2020 and 2021 because of its accompanying scientific programme designed for artistic sustainability. At the same time, musical cultural heritage is being created here, with Thuringia as its venue and dissemination centre. 

Preservation and digitisation

In addition, a digital archive of the music of the Caravan Orchestra (Yiddish Summer Weimar) will be created in connection with the digitisation strategy of the state of Thuringia. The securing and recording of the metadata of the film and sound recordings is intended to make them accessible not only for the benefit of the university and its artistic and pedagogical courses of study, but also for musicology in general, Jewish studies, Arabic studies and related disciplines such as German studies, history and ethnology.

Jewish life and Jewish heritage in Thuringia

In the Thuringian theme year 2021 "Jewish Life and Jewish Heritage in Thuringia", the Caravan Orchestra project will be given new opportunities to perform in the Free State and also nationwide. Furthermore, workshops and lectures are planned, which in addition and in close coordination with the Chair of the History of Jewish Music will become the subject of courses at the university.

Sponsor: Thuringian Ministry of Economy, Science and Digital Society
Partner: University of Haifa, School of Music, Haifa (Israel)

Prof. Dr. Tiago de Oliveira Pinto reports in the LISZT Magazine on "The Caravan Orchestra as a cooperation with Haifa University and the Yiddish Summer Weimar".

LISZT Magazine (N° 17, April 2020), article "Building Bridges", p. 56–57

:::To the article::: (in German)


Archive of past research projects

RTA Music Archive | 2018

RTA Music Archive | 2018

The aim of the project funded by the Federal Foreign Office is to preserve the Music archive of Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) in Kabul. 

The cooperation between the Afghanistan Music Research Centre (AMRC) and Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), which has been in place since the "Safar" project (2012–2016), aims to open up, make accessible and secure the still existing largest and culturally very valuable collection of RTA from the heyday of Afghan music for science and research. 

Securing and digitising the music archive 

Systematically archiving and making available the few collections that still exist offers the Afghan population access to aspects of their own identity that have been a central part of their cultural memory for generations. Archival projects can become an important pillar of a civil society. They represent an important cultural heritage of Afghanistan, which is, however, always at risk due to the security situation in Afghanistan.

Digitisation and metadata capture

In 2016, the FRANZ LISZT Weimar University of Music and the RTA broadcaster signed a Memorandum of Understanding on archival cooperation. The AMRC supports the RTA partners in digitising and capturing the metadata of the music archive's records, which are subsequently made accessible for research and scholarship on the DISMARC database (DIScovering Music ARChives). One of the project goals in 2018 was the optimisation and refinement of the metadata table for the RTA Music Archive to an international standard (based on the "Dublin Core Extended").

:::More information:::

Sponsors: Federal Foreign Office and Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Kabul
Partner: Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), Kabul (Afghanistan)
Supporters: see listing

South Africa | 2016–2017

South Africa | 2016–2017

Funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, the UNESCO Chair on Transcultural Music Studies carried out the project "Music and Intangible Cultural Heritage South Africa" in cooperation with South African partner institutions. These included Fort Hare University in East London (South Africa) and the International Library of African Music at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

Music and Intangible Cultural Heritage in South Africa

The aim is to transfer knowledge in the field of documentation and preservation of intangible cultural heritage in South Africa. To this end, a digital archive database is being set up jointly. This includes sound, image and film archives from endangered, mostly private sound, photography and video collections in Africa and Europe.

Digital archive database

In addition, a UNESCO dossier on music-related intangible cultural heritage in South Africa was published by means of new documentation produced jointly during field research.

Sponsor: German Federal Foreign Office
Partners: Fort Hare University, Department of Music, East London (South Africa); International Library of African Music (ILAN), Rhodes University, Grahamstown (South Africa)


Safar | 2012–2016

Safar | 2012­–2016

Afghanistan has suffered immense losses of national, material and immaterial cultural treasures as a result of the ongoing conflict situations. "Safar" is a joint project of the FRANZ LISZT School of Music Weimar and the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) in Kabul, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.

A musical journey

The cooperation on Afghanistan's music and cultural identity, which has existed at the department since 2012, promotes the preservation and protection of the country's traditional musical culture in various projects.

The project "Safar" ('safar' means 'journey') supports Afghan musicians in cultivating their musical tradition, preserving and passing on the rich knowledge. It revives mutual cultural (self-)understanding between Afghanistan and Germany. In this way, already existing cultural connections between Afghanistan and Germany are revived and expanded. Since 2012, concerts with Afghan and German musicians have been held alternately in Germany and Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Music Research Centre

In autumn 2014, the FRANZ LISZT Weimar University of Music and Kabul University signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The Afghanistan Music Research Centre (AMRC) was founded at the Chair of Transcultural Music Studies (TMS) of the Institute of Musicology Weimar-Jena. The aim of the AMRC is to document this unique diversity and make it accessible to a broad public in Germany and Afghanistan through concerts, lectures, workshops and publications. This also includes the creation of teaching and learning materials for the dissemination of Afghan music. The AMCR cooperates with partner organisations in Germany and abroad and uses musicological work in the fields of music education, collaborative research, archiving and music management to sustainably strengthen Afghan music culture. An important pillar of the AMRC is the preservation of the culturally extremely valuable Music archive of Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) in Kabul.

Further information at:

Sponsors: Federal Foreign Office and Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Kabul
Partner: Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), Kabul (Afghanistan)
Supporters: see listing

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GUZO | 2015–2016

GUZO | 2015–2016

The aim of the "GUZO" project, which is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, is to document Ethiopia's historical musical traditions and bring them into dialogue with the present.


Together with one of Africa's best-known jazz pianists, the Ethiopian Samuel Yirga from Addis Ababa, the team of the Chair on Transcultural Music Studies went in search of the origins of an ancient music rich in tonal diversity in 2015 and 2016. Musicians and music researchers were accompanied by filmmaker Dirk van den Berg (Rome/Berlin). Yirga calls his life project "GUZO" (journey), a journey that will take musicians, music researchers and filmmakers through a breathtaking country with three climate zones and an altitude gradient of 5000 metres.

:::Film Cultural Preservation Worldwide: "GUZO" The Roots of Ethiopian Music::: (Project presentation Federal Foreign Office)

GUZO North

"GUZO North – The Origins of Music in Ethiopia: Gondar Region" is part of the overall "GUZO" project jointly developed by the contractual partners. In addition to the engagement with selected music masters and the cooperation with the Department of Culture of the University Bahir Dar, one focus was on the film documentation of the most important Timket (Epiphania) festival, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The scientific-artistic film documentation of the historical musical traditions of Ethiopia was made within the framework of the cultural preservation of East Africa. In the film "GUZO North", the team of international musicologists (Prof. Dr Tiago de Oliveira Pinto, Dr Getie Gelaye und Dr Timkehet Teffera) meets Azmari, Ethiopian "troubadours" in the Amhara region, who musically convey sometimes highly political content off the cuff, and experience the orthodox epiphany festival "Timket" in the old imperial city of Gondar.  

Sponsor: Federal Foreign Office
Partner: University Bahir Dar, Bahir Dar (Ethiopia)

:::More on the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office:::

Film documentary "GUZO – The search for the origins of Ethiopian Music" (10 min)

Project idea: Samuel Yirga
Scientific supervision: Prof. Dr Tiago de Oliveira Pinto
Film production: Dirk van den Berg

Film documentary "GUZO North" (30 min)

Director: Dirk van den Berg
Camera: Henrik Sauer BVK, Olivia Furtwängler
Editing: Johanna Fastenau, Dirk van den Berg
Production: André Helfers
Production assistance: Julie Pageler
Production: OutreMer Film GBR

Global Music Database | 2011–2012

Global Music Database | 2011–2012

The future of music is digital. The increasing digitisation and interconnectedness of the world has changed our habits of collecting or storing and making music. In 2012, the number of digital music files exceeded the number of musical pieces on physical carriers. The global availability of digital music poses a challenge for organising and describing this huge volume of data. Search engines need to be developed to extract additional information from the music itself.

Music analysis software

The Global Music Database project aims to develop computer-based music analysis software that can automatically classify genres worldwide and interpret audio signals the way humans do. The question is how the world's diverse music can be translated into a universal language that people of different cultures as well as adaptive software can understand. To this end, musicologists from the FRANZ LISZT School of Music Weimar cooperated closely with sound engineers from Bach Technology GmbH and the Frauenhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ (IDMT) in Ilmenau.

Worldwide network

Within the framework of the project, 26 musicologists and music experts from all regions of the world worked together to collect typical musical representatives and characteristics of their culture. This ranges from traditional styles to pop. The project provides an opportunity for worldwide discussion, comparison and understanding of music with a common goal: the collection and automatic analysis of musical information.

Sponsors: European Regional Development Fund (ERDF); Landesentwicklungsgesellschaft (LEG) Thüringen; The Research Council of Norway
Partners: University of Bergen, Institute for Informatics, Department for Data Optimization, Bergen (Norway); Bach Technology GmbH; Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology (IDMT)