product header background

Summary of Activities, 1971

Barry S. Brook, President de la Commission Mixte du RILM
Nanna Schiødt, Recording Secretary

Report No. 6: St. Gall, 1971

During the 1971 AIBM Congress in St. Gall, there was one open session devoted to RILM activities in general, one joint meeting with the Classification Sub-Commission on the RILM index, and smaller meetings of two new RILM sub-commissions, one concerned with the thesaurus and the other with questions of abstract selection and length. (See below for the report of the Thesaurus Sub-Commission.)

The main session was attended by 72 delegates from 18 countries. Prof. Brook reported as follows: During the past year additional funding permitted an increase in staff; there has been a steady increase in the number and quality of abstracts received from over 40 countries and 30 Area Editors. He distributed a document on problems in writing good abstracts, which included a collection of sample abstracts, both in their original form as received, and in the form in which they finally were published, after translation, abridgement, and revision. Copies of this document are available on request from the International RILM Center.

Intensive efforts will be made to maintain a regular schedule of publication. In June of this year Volume II/4 and Volume III/1-2 were issued and mailed simultaneously. Volume III/3 will be printed in October. The cumulative index for 1969 (Volume III/4) and Volume IV/l are now in preparation. The work is progressing at a steady pace and delays are not anticipated. If delays do develop the National Committees will be informed.

Progress in perfecting computer programming was not as rapid as had been hoped, but an important advance was made in the acquiring of a cathode ray tube device that would display the data and make possible fast and accurate correction of the data. The RILM system is scheduled to be used in the preparation of a bibliography of thematic catalogues and a bibliography of French dissertations. The system will also soon be employed by scholars in other disciplines, by archaeologists, numismatists, and art historians. It is the intention of the American Council of Learned Societies to offer the RILM model, developed in the field of music as a pilot project, to the other thirty-five members of the ACLS.

On subscriptions: There are now approximately 1400. This number must be increased to 3000 by the end of 1972 if the journal is to be close to self-supporting. In an effort to increase subscriptions in libraries and educational institutions, over 5000 potential institutional subscribers in the United States have been sent publication information and subscriber invitations. In addition, RILM’s two international sponsoring societies are sending out a mailing to 4000 individuals and institutions in the IMS and the AIBM. The International RILM Center plans to seek the aid of a number of specialized musical organizations to promote a greater awareness of RILM Abstracts and to attract both individual and institutional subscriptions. It was proposed that public libraries be circularized and that RILM notices be included in professional library journals.

A general discussion followed, focusing on the following: the collection of sample abstracts, good and bad (previously sent to National Chairmen and also distributed at the meeting), the completeness of RILM coverage, the principles of inclusion and exclusion, the effectiveness of the journal for the user, the cumulative index, the thesaurus, suggestions for overall improvement of the journal, and ways of increasing subscriptions.

The representative of the West Germany National Committee, Klaus-Ernst Behne, cited the selection of abstracts as a crucial problem for his committee. With RILM committees operating in more than 40 different countries, he felt that there should be much more uniformity regarding the selection and rejection of items. A decision should be made that would be followed by all National Chairmen and Area Editors. Dr. Behne noted the existence of other bibliographical projects. He indicated that the Bibliographie des Musikschrifttums, which has more entries but has no abstracts and is now available for the year 1950 to 1964, will continue publication only until it has covered the year 1966, the year prior to the establishment of RILM. Amid praise of RILM as a whole, Dr. Behne pointed out three difficulties that needed to be overcome in the International Center: the misprints in German citations, the delay in publication, and the abridgement of author abstracts without indication of same. It was noted that improvements were underway for the first two difficulties; as to the third, it was decided that when an author abstract was substantially shortened, as is sometimes necessary, the signature underneath would read as follows: (Author abridged).

To deal with the recurring problem of abstract selection and length, it was decided that a Selection Sub-Commission be established. The following members were appointed by the president: Bathja Bayer, Klaus-Ernst Behne, Iván Pethes, Anders Lönn, Victor Ravizza, François Lesure and Barry S. Brook, ex officio, chairman. The committee members agreed (1) to test Dr. Bayer’s RILM Selection Filter; (2) to attempt to re-define principles of inclusion, exclusion, and length that were first set down in Report No.2, September 1967 (Fontes Artis Musicae XV/1, 1968, p. 2-9); (3) to send in a number of examples of items to be included and excluded and to suggest recommended lengths for different types of entries, with reasons for the decisions made. The entries may range from full-length abstracts to single-line annotations; where the title is sufficiently informative for full indexing, citations alone without abstract may suffice. The chairman will collate the examples received and prepare a statement of principles of selection, along with a collection of model entries, to be distributed to all National Chairmen and Area Editors.

Reports from National Committees: 18 National Chairmen either in person or in writing were heard from. The consensus was that author cooperation was increasing steadily and abstract quality was improving; however it continued to be necessary to urge greater author cooperation and improved abstract quality.

Reports from Area Editors: There are now 30 Area Editors covering many fields of specialization. Ann Briegleb, who is concentrating on oriental ethnomusicological studies, indicates that the coverage of ethnomusicology is still incomplete and a greater consistency is needed for indexing this field. Robert Carlile speaks encouragingly of the possibilities of developing greater coverage of “music in relation to literature” and suggests that” a significant challenge resides in RILM’s capacity to explore non-musicological publications”. Initial work in scanning non-music publications is also being undertaken by Gerd Muehsam in the Plastic Arts and by Melva Peterson in the Social Sciences. Each has indicated encouraging results and an intention of expanding their coverage. J. V. S. Megaw is concerned about the gaps in the coverage of archaeology and notes the need for specialists in China and the Americas. He is directing his attention to Europe and asks for direction from Dr. Bayer on their “respective territorial imperatives.” Guy Marco, who is examining library literature for RILM, suggests that subscription might be increased by listing RILM Abstracts in various guides to reference books.

Participants in the RILM meetings were: Belgium: Bernard Huys; Bulgaria: Lily Nikolaeva; Canada: Hans Burndorfer, Helmut Kallmann; Czechoslovakia: Oldlřich Pulkert, Theodora Straková; Denmark: Bent Christiansen, Lise Morgensen, Nanna Schiødt, Elisabeth Strandbygaard, Kamma Wedin; France: Antoine Bloch-Michel, Comtesse H. de Chambure, Pierre Gaillard, François Lesure; Germany (BRD): Viktor Back, Klaus-Ernst Behne, Rudolf Elvers, Imogen Fellinger, Harald Heckmann, Maria-Felicitas Kletzin, Alfons Ott, Albert Schug, Liesbeth Weinhold; Germany (DDR): Herta Schetelich; Great Britain: Hugh Cobbe, Phyllis Hamilton, Jane Harington, Peter Ward Jones, Alexander Hyatt King, Watkins Shaw, Michael Short, Alan Sopher, Derek Williams; Hungary: János Kárpáti, Iván Pethes; Israel: Israel Adler; Italy: Mariangela Donà, Sergio Paganelli, Pierluigi Petrobelli, Agostina Zecca-Laterza; Netherlands: Marie H. Charbon, Clemens von Gleich; Poland: Maria Prokopowicz; Sweden: Ingalill Hagberg, Cari Johansson, Bengt Kyhlberg, Anders Lönn; Switzerland: Hans-Rudolf Dürrenmatt, Regula Meier, Pierre Meylan, Annemarie Zinsli; United States: Barry S. Brook, Virginia Cunningham, Vincent Duckles, Viola 1. Hagopian, Egon F. Kenton, Marion Korda, Donald W. Krummel, Clarice Ostertag, Melville J. Ostertag, Geraldine Ostrove, Melva Peterson, Shirley Piper, James W. Pruett, Harold E. Samuel, Raymonde Sullivan; Yugoslavia: Vlasta Brajkovic, Koraljka Kos, Nadezda Mosusova.

Report of the Thesaurus Sub-Commission

Chairman: Anders Lönn: The Thesaurus Sub-Commission, established as a result of proposals made at the 1970 Leipzig RILM session, held an informal meeting on Monday, 23 August, and participated in the joint meeting of the Classification Sub-Commission and RILM on Saturday, 28 August. The Thesaurus Sub-Committee at present consists of a working committee: Anders Lönn (Chairman), Bathja Bayer (Secretary), Galina Koltypina, Iván Pethes, Sergio Paganelli; and a panel of special advisers: Barry S. Brook (ex officio), Virginia Cunningham, Kurt Dorfmüller, Ruth Hilton, Alfons Ott, François Lesure, Pierluigi Petrobelli (Dr. Bayer and Mrs. Koltypina were unable to attend).

The general aims and terms of references of the Sub-Commission, together with some specific points concerning the immediate task at hand, were discussed.

Three general objectives of the Sub-Commission were defined:

1. to review, evaluate and improve the RILM thesaurus now used;
2. to increase its usefulness and effectiveness as an indexing and retrieval tool;
3. to make it internationally acceptable for any indexing purposes (regardless of medium) in the field of music literature and allied fields (e.g. music iconography).

The immediate task of the Sub-Commission is to test the possibilities of amplifying the thesaurus by adding terms from other natural languages than English. There are several reasons why this is expected to lead to improvements:

1. indexing will be facilitated for the National Committee chairman, who may have to translate the vernacular terms suggested by the author into recognized thesaurus terms, or who would want to suggest terms himself;

2. checking and indexing of foreign abstracts will be similarly facilitated for the staff of the International Center; 3. searching should be facilitated for the majority of non-English-speaking users of the index, including not only the scholarly community and librarians, but also students, practicing musicians, mass media employees, etc.

4. a multi-lingual thesaurus should prove more attractive to other indexing projects, and thus provide for greater uniformity in music-indexing methods and increased effectiveness for users.

In addition to what might be called the direct benefits, at least two other subsidiary effects should be considered (which is not to say that these could not be achieved by other means). First, the conceptual framework of the thesaurus is now somewhat biased towards Anglo-American thinking. Taking into account terms and concepts of other languages should have important consequences for the structure of the thesaurus: a more international point of view is obviously desirable if RILM is to become as internationally viable as it is intended to be. Second, the work on the multi-lingual thesaurus could well provide an incentive for national thesauri in countries whose languages are represented. While this is not the responsibility of the Thesaurus Sub-Commission, it would be a welcome by-product.

A final observation: any information retrieval thesaurus is in effect a translation device, since one of its functions is to translate the natural language terms into authorized system language. While the system language in the RILM thesaurus has an outward resemblance to English, it is not English. (This would be more evident if the system terms were in code form.) Whether the natural language terms are in one or in more than one natural languages is not of fundamental importance.

The languages at present under consideration are Hungarian, Swedish, Russian and (as of August 1971) Italian. Preliminary lists in Swedish and Hungarian were submitted by Anders Lönn and Iván Pethes. It was agreed that these were to be further revised on the national level. A list of Russian terms has been prepared by Mrs. Koltypina and will soon be sent in. Mr. Paganelli’s list will be made ready in time for the Bologna meetings. The question of what languages to admit is crucial and must be further considered when more material is available. French and German will obviously have to be included. As regards German terms, Dr. Ott agreed to approach Dr. Leuchtmann, the editor of the Polyglot Dictionary. Among the guidelines formulated for inclusion and exclusion of non-English thesaurus terms, the most important was the following: for each language basic terms would be chosen that were most unlike English and these terms would be “see-referenced” to the corresponding English entry. Thus a German user who does not know the English word for accompaniment can look up Begleitung and be told to ” see accompaniment.” The Italian word accompagnamento would not need to be included in the thesaurus because of its similarity to English.