Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Introducing the Subject

For the past two weeks I have been drafting an introduction to a special issue of an academic journal devoted to music and sustainability. The special issue grew out of a group of papers that were presented in Honolulu at the annual conference of the Society for Ethnomusicology in 2006. My problem is that I've been working on this topic for so long that I've accumulated more ideas than can easily be organized in an introduction to it. This blog is helpful, but it remains difficult to put myself in the place of an ethnomusicologist who is new to this particular topic. How to connect this material with the common knowledge of the discipline of ethnomusicology is one issue. How to begin to explain the topic and its importance is another. My notes on the topic over the years have filled the equivalent of a book. It was Samuel Johnson who famously apologized (was it to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu?) that he had written too long a letter because he lacked the time to write a short one. But I must write a short one, and finish it soon.