The framework

The framework used for this research is the “Music Vitality and Endangerment Framework” (MVEF).

The MVEF is a tool to assess the levels of vitality or endangerment of music genres, created by the researcher of this project. It is presented in-depth in the book “Music Endangerment: How Language Maintenance Can Help“.

The MVEF identifies twelve factors in the vitality of any music genre. Assessed together, these factors give an overall picture of the strength of the genre.

Using the MVEF can help:

  • to gauge how urgently a music genre may need support
  • to indicate the type of support needed
  • to measure the success of efforts over time.

In these ways, the MVEF may be useful for musicians, communities, fieldworkers, researchers, cultural bodies, and others who are trying to find best ways to strengthen specific cultural practices.

By gathering information on many genres using the MVEF, this project begins to generate comparable data on music endangerment across the world. Over time, this could help build a rigorous basis for research, policy, and action on music endangerment.

Twelve factors in music vitality and endangerment

Factor 1 - Intergenerational transmission

This factor refers to the extent to which a music genre is successfully being passed on from one generation to the next. This is a key indicator of its strength, so it is the first factor in this 12-factor framework.

Factor 2 - Change in number of proficient musicians

This factor assesses the change in numbers of proficient musicians over time. The period of 5-10 years is suggested as the time frame to assess trends. For some genres, a different timeframe may be chosen, according to the situation at hand and the purpose of the assessment.

“Proficient” will mean very different things across genres and cultures. For some genres, this will mean a deep knowledge of repertoire; for others, it may mean high technical skill and years of training. The meaning of the word should be gauged from the perspective of the genre and the community itself.

Factor 3 - Change in number of people engaged with the genre

This factor assesses the change in numbers of people engaged with the genre. Again, the period of 5-10 years is the suggested timeframe. “Engaged” can mean in any number of ways: as learners, audience members, ‘consumers’, and so on.

Factor 4 - Pace and direction of chance in music and music practices

This factor relates to the way the genre and the practices surrounding it have changed in the last 5 to 10 years. It gauges whether this reflects increased or decreased strength (vitality) in the genre, overall.

Issues that fall under this factor include changes in the use of technology, in repertoire, in performance practices, in gender roles, and other issues relating to how the genre is performed or experienced.

Factor 5 - Change in performance context(s) and function(s)

This factor assesses changes to the function(s) of the genre, and the context(s) it is found in, in the last 5 to 10 years. It considers whether this reflects a decrease or increase in its strength, overall.

Factor 6 - Response to mass media and the music industry

This factor relates to the way the genre interacts with, and responds to, the mass media and the music industry, and the extent to which this reflects strength or weakness overall.

Note that for some genres, high media or industry engagement will indicate strength; for others, a lack of engagement may indicate strength.

Factor 7 - Accessibility of infrastructure and resources

This factor considers the extent to which the infrastructure and resources that are needed for the music genre are accessible and available. It takes into account the availability of musical instruments, venues for rehearsing and performing, teaching materials, required costumes or ritual objects, and so on.

Factor 8 - Accessibility of knowledge and skills for music practices

This factor assesses whether the community holds the knowledge and skills that are required for practising (creating, performing, and teaching / learning the genre).

Factor 9 - Official attitudes toward the genre

This factor examines the official attitudes toward the music genre – those of governments or others in power.

Factor 10 - Community members' attitudes toward the genre

This factor relates to the attitude of the community toward the genre. Depending on the genre, ‘community’ could mean those directly involved with the genre – teachers, learners, audience members, and so on – or it could mean the group of people who share or identify with the genre through their common geographical, cultural or ethnic background.

Factor 11 - Relevant outsiders' attitudes toward the genre

This factor gauges the attitudes of relevant outsiders toward the music genre, where ‘relevant outsiders’ may include researchers, fieldworkers, non-government organisations and funding bodies.

Factor 12 - Documentation of the genre

This factor assesses the quality, quantity, and accessibility (to the community and others) of documentation of the music genre, including text-based and audiovisual documentation.