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.