Notes 60.2 (2003) 446-448
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The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Vol. 10: The World's Music: General Perspectives and Reference Tools. Edited by Ruth M. Stone. New York: Routledge, 2002. [xiii, 1017 p. ISBN 0-8153-1084-6. $250.] Illustrations, bibliographies, index.
The tenth and final volume of The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music begins with a series of autobiographical profiles of ethnomusicologists, followed by a series of reference tools which attempt to unite and integrate glossaries, bibliographies, discographies, videographies, and indexes from all the previous volumes of the encyclopedia. In her "Preface: Closing the Circle," volume editor Ruth M. Stone asserts that ethnomusicologists "share a strong commitment to exploring their topics through ethnography or fieldwork" (p. ix). This commitment is amply demonstrated by those represented in the first section of the volume, "Ethnomusicologists at Work." This phrase would have been a better title for the volume than "The World's Music: General Perspectives," as those perspectives are all provided by "a select group of ethnomusicologists who describe in their own words how they entered the profession and how they have carried out their research, teaching, and publication" (p. xi). Such a collection is certainly not general, and to call it that is misleading. It might even seem a little self-serving for the creators of the encyclopedia to feature themselves so prominently at the end, but the purposes of this exercise are perhaps more benign. Stone has wisely avoided the sort of one-sided summary of either world music or the discipline of ethnomusicology that would belie the diversity the previous volumes had espoused so painstakingly.
Yet, the inclusion of these autobiographical essays is not merely an acknowledgment of diversity of opinion, but rather an acknowledgment that ethnomusicology came into being and evolved through idiosyncratic efforts which, when pooled together, outlined a discipline. In the "Ethnomusicologists at Work" essays, researchers accustomed to collecting and analyzing data on others are required to provide data on themselves: to give their lineage, to tell about their world, and to detail the role of the individual within their social group. The concept is both brilliant and a bit too tidy. The reader should be as suspicious of these pronouncements as a good ethnographer would be of those made by any inside informant, for sometimes they tell us what we want to know, and sometimes they tell us what they think we should know. Still, either way, each essay offers some unique perspective on the subject of world music, and, taken together, they are full of wit and true wisdom, are informative and thought provoking.
Illuminated with episodes from the individual authors' personal experiences, each profile describes some approach toward documenting and/or participating in musical activities. Geographic areas where a particular ethnomusicologist has done research serve as the title for the profile. For example, Daniel Sheehy's description of his experience promoting world music at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) falls under the heading "Latin America and North America." Imagine the response of students who, while researching the NEA, might locate this excellent essay through a secondary bibliography or index such as RILM Abstracts of Music Literature. Surely, the literally global nature of the essay title coupled with the indication that it is in a volume of "General Perspectives" on world music would dissuade all but the most dedicated among them from bothering to even look at it. Granted, this is an extreme example, [End Page 446] but for researchers overwhelmed by information, titles provide one of the quickest and surest means of focusing a search, and they often mean the difference between an essay being used or going completely unread.
Each ethnomusicologist's profile is in some way didactic, though individual approaches may be in direct opposition. For instance, contrast Gerhard Kubik's description of the entirely irreproducible technique he employed in Africa:
At dusk I was normally stranded somewhere: a driver had dropped me at a crossroad or, exhausted, I had stopped cycling or walking. I would look for a...