20-minute paper

Sound Agendas is a conference for composers to talk about composition and related topics, with scope left wide open for composers to take the lead on what is relevant to talk about at this time. The ’20-minute paper’ is the standard format for most conferences, giving enough time to explore a substantial work, topic or argument. Papers can be about your own work, or the work of others, but there is no pressure to be ‘academic’ or to present your work ‘as research’. Nevertheless all presentations need to be clearly defined in terms of the area to be discussed and the purpose presenting it at this time in this context.


The scheduling will allow for 5-10 mins of question/discussion time following the delivery of the paper. The paper may be accompanied by slides or handouts, and include audio samples. Composers’ presentations might legitimately include several minutes of listening, with talking cut to fit. Questions and responses to your work are often the most rewarding and useful part of presenting at a conference so time keeping should be rehearsed and adhered to as closely as possible so that the discussion/response time isn’t compromised. Session chairs will enforce time limits to help ensure smooth running.

Abstracts should include a title and clearly outline what will be presented or discussed. The abstract could start by posing a question, then outlining how the question will be approached. The abstract should give some kind of statement to say what makes this work, topic or argument interesting, relevant or timely in the context of your composition practice, or Composition in general. Include a link to a CV or bio. One or two links to online scores or recordings could be included if relevant (but are not essential). Abstracts should be sent to cenmas@sheffield.ac.uk attached as docx or pdf files.