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Summary of Activities, 1972

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

Report No. 7: Bologna and Copenhagen, 1972

During the Bologna conference of the International Association of Music Libraries on September 9th-13th, there were three sessions devoted to RILM: the general meeting focusing on the subject of inclusion/exclusion and abstract length; a meeting of the Thesaurus Sub-Commission; and a joint meeting of the RILM Thesaurus Sub-Commission with the IAML Classification Sub-Commission. In addition, the other international society sponsoring RILM, the International Musicological Society, included a session about RILM during its 11th congress in Copenhagen on August 20th-25th. The main topic of this meeting was how RILM can better serve the musicologist. The following is a summation of the discussions and decisions that occurred at both Bologna and Copenhagen.

Report by the President

At this time four complete volumes of RILM abstracts have appeared, and the four issues of volume V, dealing with 1971 publications, are in varying stages of production. Computerization difficulties have at last been overcome; the editorial staff has been enlarged; and support funds have been assured at least for this academic year. At the present rhythm of editorial preparation, RILM will become current within approximately 14 months-that is October 1973.

All this has been possible because of the excellent cooperation of the 42 national committees, the 92 editors of core journals, and of the 45 area editors in related fields. The cooperation of authors in preparing their own abstracts has shown heartening improvement in both quality and quantity. We are now able to plan for a five-year cumulative index covering 1967-1971, the first five volumes of RILM abstracts. It is therefore urgent that all missing items from these years be sent in as soon as possible.

Recent RILM developments include 1) the programming of a sophisticated cathode ray tube editing device, which displays the data in upper and lower case in 4 different fonts and with 18 different accents, thus permitting corrections and insertions to be made immediately without the need for typesetting, 2) the revision of the RILM Thesaurus, which simplifies in-depth indexing of all musical documents, and the establishment of the RILM International Thesaurus Sub-Commission, under the chairmanship of Anders Lönn (The sub-commission will enlarge the RILM Thesaurus to include terms, dissimilar in English, in 9 other languages, starting with French, German, and Russian), and 3) the appearance of the first volume of RILM Retrospectives, a series of annotated bibliographies. It is entitled Thematic catalogues of music (Hillsdale, N.Y.: Pendragon, 1972; 347 p.). Three further volumes are in preparation: French dissertations in music by Jean Gribenski et al.; The Iconography of music by Frederick Crane; and Congress reports in music.

The success and eventual self-sufficiency of RILM depends on the cooperation of all IAML and IMS colleagues – both in sending in abstracts of their books and articles, and in subscribing individually and institutionally.


Among the questions dealt with was that of the completeness of RILM’s coverage. In this connection the Chairwoman for Italy, Emma Pirani, Director of the Biblioteca Braidense, told how the efficiency and coverage of the Italian committee have been improved by a three-fold division of labor, wherein one person is in charge of collecting abstracts for periodical literature, another for collected volumes, and a third for books. From Melva Peterson, Music Librarian, City College of the City University of New York and a member of the United States committee, came a detailed written report on locating articles on music in non-music periodicals by the use of indexes.

The major portion of the meetings was devoted to the subject of inclusion/exclusion and abstract length, which may be codified in the following statement.

Inclusion/Exclusion and Abstract length

Preliminary guidelines for inclusion/exclusion, based on discussions at conferences held in Salzburg and Ljubljana in 1967, were published in RILM Report No.2 (Fontes, XV/I [1968] 2-9). The point of departure during the Bologna and Copenhagen sessions was a 25-page document, copies of which are available at the International RILM Center. The principles and decisions stated in the earlier report were emended, expanded, and refined.

General principles

RILM’s policy is to include rather than exclude publications of uncertain significance. The difficulty in assessing significance is obvious, especially when one is also concerned with related disciplines. Moreover, RILM abstracts is only one facet of the RILM project; the stored information will be the basis for computer compiled bibliographies and other information retrieval projects. All possible uses of this information cannot be foreseen.

Decisions concerning the inclusion or exclusion of specific items should in general be made by the national committees, rather than by periodical editors, publishers or authors. The RILM Center will make the final determination, consulting with the national chairmen where necessary.

The general policy concerning abstract length is to employ the greatest conciseness consistent with retaining information that could most help a reader determine the usefulness of the publication for his particular need.

Specific inclusion/exclusion decisions

1) RILM must serve as a national bibliography of significant music literature for each contributing country. It must include citations for all translations of such literature as well as abstracts of the original item. As Klaus-Ernst Behne of the German BRD committee has emphasized, RILM abstracts was planned as the continuation and expansion of the Bibliographie des Musikschrifttums, which will cease publication after its 1966 volume. RILM is committed to maintaining the high level of coverage of that publication.

2) RILM’s goal of abstracting all significant literature on music should not be interpreted to mean significant only to musicology and closely related disciplines, but to the study of music generally. This position – in line with the general liberal policy regarding inclusion – reflects the difficulty of determining what may become significant to these very disciplines in the future. With respect to publications dealing with the social aspects of current popular music, studies on the sociology of this music should be included, but details of current popular concert life and recordings must be excluded, despite their possible usefulness to scholars interested in sociology.

3) Items generally excluded are a) newspaper articles, b) record jacket notes and booklets, c) school and college texts, d) music instruction manuals, e) notices (of scholarly meetings, etc.) of limited interest, f) non-scholarly reviews of musical performances and recordings, and g) music books for children. Exceptions include unusually significant newspaper articles unlikely to appear elsewhere, scholarly booklets accompanying major collected recordings, and texts or instruction manuals when these are the first of their kind to appear in a developing country.

A suggested procedure for determining inclusion by a numerical rating of treatment, subject, and author of item – Bathja Bayer’s RILM selection filter – was extensively discussed at the 1972 RILM meetings. An outline of this procedure is available from the International RILM Center.

Specific abstract length decisions

1) Items in languages not widely used in our field may receive somewhat longer abstracts than similar items in more common languages.

2) The RILM Center will edit abstracts in line with the general policy of conciseness and stylistic consistency. Substantial deletions of material from the abstract are indicated by the word abridged following the abstractor’s name.

3) Translations of works receive a single sentence abstract giving the original title, publisher, publication date, and the RILM number for the abstract of the original edition.
4) Reprints receive a single sentence abstract stating the place, publisher, and date of publication of the original edition.

5) Brief abstracts may be provided for reviews if they contain new ideas or supplementary information.

6) If the title of a minor item sufficiently indicates its content, an abstract is unnecessary.

7) For an article of lesser importance in a collected volume of musical writings, a title citation in the cover abstract for the volume may be sufficient.

8) In all cases – including translations, reprints, reviews, and items to be cited without abstract – enough information must be given on the abstract form to classify and index the item properly.

Report of the Thesaurus Sub – Commission (Anders Lönn, Chairman)

The topics considered at both Bologna meetings of the Thesaurus Sub-Commission were 1) the addition of foreign language terms to the RILM Thesaurus, and 2) possible revisions and improvements to the present thesaurus.

Concerning the first topic, Professor Brook reported on his talk with Horst Leuchtmann, the editor of the forthcoming Polyglot Dictionary. As Dr. Leuchtmann suggested, it was decided that during the first expansion stage the additional languages would be limited to French, German, and Russian, representing the Romance, Germanic, and Slavic groups. It was also decided to invite Dr. Leuchtmann to become a member of the sub-commission and to be responsible for the German terms. François Lesure was requested to undertake the same task with respect to French.

The question of what terms to include and in what form was discussed in connection with the preliminary guidelines prepared by the chairman. A revised version will be worked out before the next meeting. Much of the discussion centered around cultural and ethnic specifica, i.e. terms and concepts particular to a certain culture, language, or ethnic group. On another level, there is the much more difficult problem of how to deal with fundamental conceptual and terminological differences between different ideologies or schools of thought. An example was provided by a list of Marxist-Leninist terms compiled by Galina B. Koltypina of the Soviet Union, who unfortunately could not be present. In her absence and for lack of time, detailed consideration had to be deferred.

Among the points relating to possible revisions and improvements in the RILM Thesaurus, the following may be mentioned: the question of generic versus specific terms; the question of a suitable balance in indexing material from different musicological fields (should literature on, for instance, music acoustics or music psychology be indexed as exhaustively as literature on music history, and if so, how should this best be insured?); and the question of term selection and definition in areas where scholarly terminology is undeveloped and imprecise, and/or subject to a great deal of local variation (e.g. jazz and popular music, and to some extent vocal music and song).

It was agreed that a questionnaire should be distributed to all national committees and area editors, asking them for supplementary terms from their fields and for their views, criticism, and comments. Similarly, suggestions for changes or improvements should be collected from and circulated among the sub-commission members themselves.

Participants in the RILM Meetings:

Australia: Graham Pont; Austria: Zoltan Roman; Belgium: Bernard Huys; Brazil: Mercedes Reis Pequeno; Bulgaria: Lily Nikolaeva; Canada: Ingrid Buch; Čzechoslovakia: Vladimir Dvořák, Oldrich Pulkert; Denmark: Hanne Bruhns, Dan Fog, Lene Fog, Inge Henriksen, Nanna Schiødt, Torben Schousboe, Elizabeth Srandbygaard; France: Francine Bloch, Nanie Bridgman, La Comtesse de Chambure, Vladimir Fédorov, Jean Gribenski, Beatrice Guillaume, Egon Kenton, François Lesure, Simone Wallon; Germany (BRD): Kurt Dorfmüller, Imogen Fellinger, Ruth Froriep, Harald Heckmann, Hermann Wassner; Germany (DDR) : Karl-Heinz Köhler; GreatBritain: Clifford Bartlett, Mary C. Chester, Miriam Hunt Miller, Michael Short, WalterH. Stock; Greece: Tassos Valavanis; Hungary: Magda Gráf, Istvan Kecskeméti, Iván Pethes; Israel: Bathya Bayer, Edith Gerson-Kiwi; Italy: Mariangela Donà, Pierluigi Petrobelli, Agostina Zecca-Laterza; Japan: Hiroko Kishimoto, Noriko Murai; Netherlands: Clemens von Gleich; Norway: Arvid Vollsnes; Poland: Maria Prokopowicz; Rumania: Octavien Cosma, Romeo Ghircoiaşiu; Soviet Union: Tamara Kostina, Zinaida Jukova, Tamara Lyssenko, Raissa Mamlutova, Radda Sabadasch, Durdana Schamilova, Vera Siverinova, J. A. Witola; United States: Eva Badura-Skoda, Rita Benton, Laura Boulton, Barry S. Brook, Lenore Coral, Virginia Cunningham, Vincent Duckles, Bernard Frum, D. W. Krummel, Kurtz Meyers, Geraldine Ostrove, Thor Wood; Venezuela: Isabel Aretz.