Sunday, July 5, 2015

Applied Ethnomusicology Handbook published

    A few days ago Oxford University Press published the Oxford Handbook of Applied Ethnomusicology, co-edited by Svanibor Pettan and myself. This book offers essays from nearly 25 different contributors, including those of the editors. Nearly 900 pages long, it contains articles from ethnomusicologists who work in North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. I contributed two essays: one is an article on sustainability, resilience, adaptive management, and applied ethnomusicology; the other is a historical and descriptive introduction to applied ethnomusicology. The latter was the basis for my Botkin Lecture at the Library of Congress, in January 2015. A video webcast of that lecture will be posted on the Library's website later this year.
   In the Handbook I define applied ethnomusicology as ethnomusicology put to practical use in a community for a social improvement, a cultural good, an economic advantage, a musical benefit, or a combination of these. Guided by ethical principles of social responsibility, human rights, and musical and cultural equity, applied work greatly appeals to contemporary ethnomusicologists.
   As this book was eight years in the making, it may be of interest to know how, and why, it took so long, and what the process was from start to finish. Why, one might wonder, would it take eight years to put an edited book together from start to finish? Anyone wishing to embark on or be part of a similar project might want to know. 
    The Oxford Handbook’s eight years comprised the time it took to determine the shape of the book, produce a proposal, obtain the contributions from the various authors (including the editors), and for the various parts of the book to go through multiple review processes. Once the book was in production—that is, in copyediting, and then putting it into page proofs and eventually books—it went quickly. The project got under way sometime in 2008 when Oxford editor Suzanne Ryan first approached Svanibor with an idea for such a Handbook, and he suggested me as co-editor. Svanibor, who is a professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Ljubljana, in Slovenia, would work to invite his colleagues, particularly from the International Council on Traditional Music (ICTM), an international organization with many active European members. I would invite my colleagues, particularly from the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), also an international organization but with most of its members in North America. In the fall of 2008 I met with Suzanne at the annual SEM conference, and confirmed agreement to co-edit the volume with Svanibor. In 2009 we moved toward a preliminary proposal, with a list of potential contributors; we submitted this to Oxford, they approved, and they asked for a full proposal with a list of committed authors and article abstracts from all of them. In 2010 we began the process of inviting authors and learning whether they would contribute, and what; while we tried to shape the full proposal. We discussed the content of the proposal, the intended themes, audience, and which authors to invite. We asked a few potential authors and found many needed time to make up their minds and decide what they might write on; meanwhile, we tried to shape the volume thematically and work towards the full proposal.
    By early 2011 we had many of the authors’ verbal commitments, and we issued formal invitations. A few authors said they felt unable to commit the necessary time to the project, but most accepted, and we awaited the abstracts of their proposed articles. They arrived by the end of the year, whereupon we sent them with a second draft of the proposal to Oxford, whose editor made comments meant for the individual authors, in an attempt to improve their abstracts and eventual articles. Svanibor and I had responses of our own, of course, and we discussed it all with Oxford, eventually returning to the authors with some suggestions for them to revise their abstracts. This process played itself out by the end of 2011, when we sent off our full book proposal along with the revised abstracts.
    Oxford then sent the full proposal and revised abstracts off to external reviewers, for they needed outside referees to advise them on whether they thought it was a worthwhile project and that it should go forward. This review took some nine months, and by early fall of 2012 we had Oxford’s approval to go forward, as well as a contract for us and the contributors. We asked the authors to write their articles and let us have them by May of 2013, but no one submitted on time; we pushed the deadline back to the end of August of 2013, and a few months after that the last articles straggled in. Off they went to Oxford for a second external review—this time, a review of the articles, not the proposal and abstracts—and, predictably, this also took several months but, again, the reports came back in May of 2014 and were positive, albeit with many suggestions for the authors for revision. And so in May of 2014 the authors began revising once more. After all the essays were in, Svanibor and I planned to put the finishing touches on our Introduction and return the whole project to Oxford by August 15 so they could put the book into production. It took a little more time to get everyone’s essay and to put the whole volume together, but in early fall we were able to do that, Oxford put the book into copyediting, returned the essays for correction, put the copyedited essays into pages, which we proofread, and then after more corrections, turned them all into bound books, with the official publication date of June 29, 2015, eight years after we began.


  1. Does anyone have an extra dust / book jacket for this title. Our copy was recycled by mistake. If so, please contact Diane Dudley College of William and Mary Music Library

  2. I've contacted the music editor at Oxford. She should be in touch with you about it.