Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

RILM at 40: A View from the Bridge

Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

RILM at 40: A View from the Bridge

Article excerpt

English Abstract

Forty years after its creation, RILM (Repertoire international de litterature musicale) remains the leading indexing service for music literature. Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie, the Editor-in-Chief of RILM, looks back on the developments in the field and looks forward to the changes that the future will bring to access and understanding.

French Abstract

Quarante ans apres sa creation, le RILM (Repertoire international de litterature musicale) demeure le principal service d'indexation de la litterature musicale. Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie, editeur en chef du RILM, revient sur les developpements dans le domaine et anticipe les changements que le futur apportera aux modalites d'acces et a la comprehension.

German Abstract

Auch vierzig Jahre nach der Grundung ist und bleibt RILM (Repertoire International de Litterature Musicale) die fuhrende Bibliographie fur Musilditeratur. Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie, die Chefredakteurin von RILM, blickt auf die Entwicklungen dieses Bereiches zuruck und wagt einen Ausblick auf zukunftige Veranderungen.


Repertoire International de Litterature Musicale, more commonly known as RILM, is 40 years old. (2) In these four decades, the project has abstracted and indexed music research from around the world, compiling a database that contains more than half a million bibliographic records. The increasing relevance of the database for music researchers is clear: use of RILM is at an all-time high. It seems an auspicious moment to reflect upon the past, the present, and the future of RILM and its role in music research, especially in the context of the growing profusion of online information.

Originally a pilot project of the American Council on Learned Societies, RILM was founded in 1966 at the City University of New York by the renowned musicologist Barry S. Brook. A man of expansive vision who had a hand in the establishment of all four R-Projects, (3) Brook imagined an abstracted, indexed bibliography of all significant writings about music and related disciplines from all over the world. In other words, RILM was to be a tool providing total bibliographic control over the world's research on music. RILM's mission remains the same today as it was when Brook founded it, with the crucial difference that--though the ultimate goal of complete global coverage remains elusive-RILM is getting ever closer to achieving it.

The database, RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, includes publications in over 150 languages. It is classified by main topic, and includes original-language titles, title translations in English, full bibliographic information, abstracts--or summaries--in English, and detailed subject indexing. Here is an entry:

Title: Novelty that must be subtle: Continuity, innovation and improvisation in North Indian music

Author: Napier, John

Journal title: Critical studies in improvisation/Etudes critiques en improvisation

Volume: 1

Number: 3

Year: 2006

URL: article/view/55/104

Special features: bibliography, discography, transcription

Language: English

Document type: Article in a periodical

Country of publication: Canada

Classification: Ethnomusicology--Asia

Abstract: Investigates the interrelation between two aspects of Hindustani music that at first might appear to occupy opposite poles of creativity and constraint: (1) the soloist's construction of melody and the interpretation of this as improvised; and (2) sath-sangat, the imitative instrumental accompaniment afforded such melodies when performed by vocalists. The conventional description of Hindustani music as improvisatory downplays the importance of the representation of fixed materials, underemphasizing the projection of tradition and transmission. In turn, sath-sangat has a homologous relationship to pedagogy. …

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