Ethnomusicology: A Research and Information Guide

By McLane, Alec | Notes, March 2006 | Go to article overview

Ethnomusicology: A Research and Information Guide


McLane, Alec, Notes


Ethnomusicology: A Research and Information Guide. By Jennifer C. Post. (Routledge Music Bibliographies.) New York: Routledge, 2004. [ix, 470 p. ISBN 0-415-93834-1. $110.] Indexes.

Jennifer Post's substantial research guide contains annotated references to 1,690 sources in ethnomusicology and related fields, and as such it stands as the most comprehensive work of its kind to date. It owes much to the work that preceded it and filled that role for a decade, Ann Briegleb Schuursma's Ethnomusicology Research: A Select Annotated Bibliography (New York: Garland, 1992). This debt is evident as much in the differences as in the similarities between the two works. In the very first sentence of her introduction Post acknowledges Schuursma, and goes on to say that her intent is not to "supplant" but to "supplement" this work by including sources almost entirely from the last decade of the century (p. 1).

It is much more than a mere "supplement," however, as a comparison of the two works reveals: for instance, the present volume contains nearly four times the number of citations as the earlier one. Whereas Schuursma selected key texts from among the books and articles discussing issues in the field of ethnomusicology, Post extends her coverage to encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, indexes, journal titles, sound recordings, and film. And where Schuursma organized her chapters by topics-history, theory and method, fieldwork, musical analysis, and related disciplines-Post instead groups her types of sources together into separate chapters, with topical and geographic subdivisions within each chapter. By including substantial introductions to each of the chapters defining the source types and advising how to use them, she has also produced a work that can serve as a general research primer for younger students.

Where the two works find common ground in the material covered-that is, writings covering ethnomusicological topics (as opposed to encyclopedias, indexes, audio recordings, etc., none of which are found in Schuursma)-then one can understand the supplemental role this book occupies in relation to its predecessor. While Post's respect for, and acknowledgement of, Schuursma's work has ensured that both books are essential for any research collection since there is so litde duplication between the two, she has also prevented her own book from standing alone as a comprehensive research guide, because of the omission of many of the classic earlier writings on ethnomusicology. A browse through the name indexes of both books is revealing: Schuursma's most prolific authors are Alan Merriam and Marcia Herndon; in Post's work, Herndon, who died in 1997, is much less represented than in the earlier work, while Merriam, who died in 1980, is reduced to a single contribution. A quick check shows that this is not even his landmark book, The Anthropology of Music (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1964), but a contribution to a collection of essays published in translation during the 1990s. Should anyone think that this major reference work is unaware of the contributions of Alan Merriam to the field of ethnomusicology, however, I should point out that his text is cited along with around forty others in Post's introduction, listing "the key texts that today continue to provide a foundation for students and scholars in the discipline" (p. 2). But in her desire to build on Schuursma's efforts and not replace them, these earlier texts (as well as many others) are not listed among the numbered references in the book.

Where this book departs most from its earlier counterpart (aside from the many added types of sources covered) is in the expansive way it treats the field of ethnomusicology, and in the inclusion of many more contributors to the literature of the field. To quote again from Post's introduction: "While earlier studies were framed by the methodologies drawn from musicology, music theory, and cultural anthropology, the work that has emerged during the last few decades has encouraged the expansion of its focus" (p. …

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