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Summary of Activities, 1978

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

Report No. 13: Lisbon, 1978

Report by the President

This year has seen the completion of Vol. IX of RILM abstracts and the beginning of work on Vol. X, signaling a decade of publication; with this volume we hope to clear our files of backlog. The deadline for the lacunae issue (X/4) has been postponed until November 15th. To assist with that issue a committee of volunteers from the Music Library Association and IAML-US are helping locate important items still missing from the ten-year coverage. Lenore Coral, Melva Peterson, and Judy Kaufman have already gone through several years of bibliographic listings in Ethnomusicology for that purpose. Their survey has yielded valuable information and similar principles will be applied in other subject areas.

A three-year contract has finally been signed with Lockheed Information Systems whereby RILM’s data base will become part of their information retrieval system. RILM’s test tapes have proven themselves; its retrospective data base is ready for delivery and should become part of the Lockheed service in November or December. As each future issue goes to press, a copy of the computer tape containing the data will be forwarded to Lockheed to supplement our data base. The arrangement will provide RILM with a small amount yearly, which will increase as the size of our file increases.

Another long-awaited project is on the point of realization. Our consulting computer programmer has completed the design of programs which will link RILM to the New York Public Library’s computerized photocomposition system; it will be much less costly than our current method of photocomposition. Using the library’s “Book Catalog Pagination Program,” we will be able to avail ourselves of the innovations that characterize their system. In particular, it will once more allow the printing of Cyrillic characters, an event for which the Russian RILM committee has been patiently waiting since we were forced to discontinue the practice two years ago. It will also be possible to print automatically those accents which now must be inserted manually. To date the RILM system has shown itself particularly vulnerable to unexpected and unannounced changes in the format program used by our current typesetter; the shift to the better-documented and proven programs of the New York Public Library will eliminate this source of problems.

RILM has completed one year of its current matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. With the help of subscribers, the Mellon Foundation, Miss Alice Tully, IMS, IAML-US, GfM, AMS, CMS, MLA and ASCAP, we have raised the amount stipulated by the Endowment for the first year. Another financial note: subscriptions have maintained the same level despite the increase in price for Vol. X.

Special reports: Father López-Calo, Spanish RILM chairman, has formed a new committee of seven members. The Korean chairman, Bang-song Song, has become director of the National Classic Music Institute in Seoul. The US committee has announced two new area editors: Judith Lynne Hanna for dance, and Gordon Stevenson in the area of library literature.


With more and more material being published, it is becoming increasingly urgent to find means of processing the abstracts more quickly. The suggestion was made during the discussion that the national committees send in English translations rather than abstracts in the original language; but the RILM office could not check the accuracy of the English without the original. It was therefore recommended that both versions of an abstract be sent in together: the original language and an English translation. In view of the increase in material, shorter abstracts are now a necessity: 25 to 100 words, rather than 50 to 150, with exceptions where appropriate (e.g., hard-to-obtain dissertations, esoteric languages, etc.). It was proposed that instruction in the writing of abstracts be included in courses in bibliographic and research techniques. National chairmen are being asked to reexamine their list of core journals (those fully abstracted) and to place the less important ones in category 2 (journals only selectively abstracted). Selectivity in secondary journals and other literature is obviously becoming extremely important, in order to reduce quantity, but under no circumstances should any significant literature be omitted. François Lesure remarked that some national committees (which are responsible for selectivity) have become too lax in eliminating unimportant works. Concerning reviews printed without the original works being abstracted: the RILM office tries, and will continue to try, to acquire the abstracts.

Discussion also revolved around a point raised at the meeting of the Executive Board of IAML, that a definite term of office be established for all joint commissions, with regular reappointments by the sponsoring organizations. In response to a query regarding RILM Retrospectives, it was announced that at the end of 1978 Pendragon Press (New York) will publish Thèses de doctorat en langue française relatives à la musique. Bibliographie commentée, ed. Jean Gribenski et al., and with a bilingual index. International Congress Reports in Music, ed. Barry S. Brook and Sylvia Eversole, will go to the printer in fall 1979. The Iconography of Music, by Frederick Crane, has been indefinitely postponed.


The chairman reported that work on the international thesaurus is progressing. A list of Italian terms had been prepared by Mariangela Donà, and a corresponding one for Spanish by José López-Calo. Since the principle was to include only those terms that are dissimilar to a chosen principal language within each linguistic family (as well as to the original English), the Italian and Spanish terms would now be checked against the French list (which had been updated by Jean Gribenski).

During the coming year, a major effort would be made by the chairman and the secretary, Kathleen Toomey, to cover remaining Germanic, Romance, and Slavonic languages, i.e. (a) Dutch and Norwegian (with revisions of the German, Swedish, and Danish lists), (b) Portuguese and Romanian, and (c) Czech, Slovenian, and Serbo-Croatian. These should all be incorporated in the second five-year cumulative index. In the next stage, Arabic languages, Hebrew, and Japanese might be tackled.

The international thesaurus should also be checked against the IAML/IMS Terminorum musicae index septem linguis redactus, ed. by Horst Leuchtrnann, which had just appeared, and against the German thesaurus of genres and forms compiled by the Classification Sub-Commission. Since the latter body was now grappling with the problem of non-Western and non-art music terms and concepts, it was felt that any work in this area should be coordinated by them.

The possibilities of translating the English thesaurus in its entirety into another language or languages, to provide an indexing tool that could be used at the national level, were also discussed. It was pointed out, however, that this was a fairly complex matter, e.g.: (a) when the English and the target-language term were not synonymous, a change in the structure of the thesaurus would be necessary; (b) not only the terms and their structure would be affected, but also the structure of the index entries, to conform with different linguistic usage. The chairman referred to recent work on multilingual indexing languages by Derek Austin and Jutta Sørensen in their papers PRECIS in a multilingual context 1-2 (Libri 1976/1-2).