Ethno-Musicology, Newsletter No. 1: December, 1953

I’ve been reading the very first issues of Ethnomusicology, the journal for the Society of Ethnomusicology (SEM).

The very first compilation published in 1953 is a set of letters rather than a journal (which came after, and as a result of, these letters) disseminated throughout the year.  It gave an introduction to the “who’s/how’s/why’s” of the newsletter, short blurbs about what people are up to, a bibliography, list of recent recordings, and an exchange feature.

As early as the very first letter, people were studying such things as:

  • The Wolof Music of Gambia/Senegal (David W. Ames)
  • Ifaluk music (Edwin G. Burrows)
  • Sanskrit music literature (Alain Danielou)
  • American Indian styles (Bruno Nettl)
  • Indonesian music (Peter Goethals)
  • Ewe People of the Gold Coast (A.M. Jones)
  • Tutelo/Iriquois Songs (Gertrude Kurath)
  • Apache puberty dance music (David P. McAllester)
  • Northern Peruvian Highlands (William Mangin/Norman Pava)
  • Kalahari Bushmen (L.K. Marshall)
  • Belgian Congo/Ruanda Urundi (Alan P. Merriam)
  • Bogobo of the Phillippines (Felicia Peralta)
  • North American Indians (Willard Rhodes)
  • Indian-Catholic catechism songs (Nicholas N. Smith)
  • Florida Seminoles (William C. Sturtevant)
  • Norbert Ward (Indonesia)
  • Yirkalla of Australia (Richard A. Waterman)

A lot of North America is covered, but it makes me smile to look at this short list of folks who ended up becoming “the big names” in the field –

***Two years after this newsletter publication, Newsletter No. 5  calls for an organizational meeting to form an ethno-musicological society in Boston (November 17-19, 1955). (Ethno-musicology. Newsletter No. 5, September, 1955)

Based on  Ethno-Musicology, Newsletter No. 1. December, 1953.


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