On Symposium at 40

This year, 1999, is the 40th anniversary of The College Music Society. It is also the year of my 40th high school reunion. Indeed, 1959 was a year that certainly came to have a great effect on me! Since I often say that I am now finally a mature young adult (this happened when I turned 50), I suppose we could say that The College Music Society is finally a mature young professional society. It is young by some professional society standards, and it is certainly mature, meaning it has its act together, is confident, operates smoothly, offers great services, and is influential in the musical world of higher education and beyond.

To place the year of the founding of The College Music Society in perspective, I would like to reflect on some of the events of 1959. Alaska and Hawaii became our 49th and 50th states; Fidel Castro became the premier of Cuba; the U.S.S.R. researched the moon with its Lunik I, II, and III spaceships; the U.S. rocketed monkeys into space; the Dalai Lama was forced out of Tibet; Swedish boxer Ingemar Johansson became the new heavyweight champion of the world; Charles Van Doren admitted to the rigging of the quiz show, the $64,000 Question; the United States launched the world's first nuclear-powered, ballistic missile submarine. These were but a few of the events, some of which changed our lives forever.

When I think of how rapidly changes have occurred during the past forty years, I sometimes wonder how I managed to keep up. Musically I went from a clarinetist, to a flutist, to a shakuhachi-ist, to an ethnomusicologist. I went from an Albert Lea boy, to a Minneapolis boy, to a Santiago (Chile) boy, to a Chicago boy, to a Los Angeles boy, to a 'good old boy" from Tallahassee. "How did The College Music Society develop during those forty years?" I asked myself. For an answer I perused all the back issues of the College Music Symposium (CMS).

To my delight, I found that The College Music Society, at least as portrayed in its journal, has always had a broad-minded interest in and approach to scholarship. Since 1959, articles in one form or another can be found in almost every issue of the College Music Symposium that have included ideas and information about folk music, popular music, world musics, and ethnomusicology, along with every imaginable topic about European-derived and American musics. While certain issues stand out more than others as including topics that deal with some aspect of ethnomusicology, and some articles are not much more than reports about places or trends, the College Music Symposium has always been interested in disseminating ideas about all musics, musical scholarship, and music pedagogy. The following citations are just a sampling to show some of the diversity of articles during the past forty years.

The first article in the College Music Symposium to reveal a multicultural awareness appeared in 1962. It was by Wilton Mason, entitled "Folk Music in a Changing World." Mason wrote: "We are now in rapid communication with every part of the globe. . . .we have ourselves proven receptive, as never before, to ideas and impulses from abroad" (CMS 2, Fall 1962:33). These were very perceptive words written nearly four decades ago, and they are as true today as they were then. In Volume 7 (1967), several short articles from an annual meeting round table discussion were published, featuring contributions by Gerard Behague, Charles Boiles, Robert Brown, Robert Garfias, Mantle Hood, and others who were among the standard setters of ethnomusicology in the United States (CMS 7, Fall 1967:103-124). Interest in ethnomusicology occurred not only among ethnomusicologists in the 1970s, but also among scholars in other disciplines, as witnessed by an article in 1972 by Lewis Rowell entitled "Comparative Theory: A Systematic Approach to the Study of World Music" (CMS 12, Fall 1972:66-83). Relating the need for ethnomusicology in colleges and universities, Ralf Carriulo wrote "American Pluralism, the University, and Ethnomusicology" (CMS 16, Spring 1976:50-63). Volume 17 (1977) included position papers of great importance in the development of American ethnomusicology, with contributions by Stephen Blum, Robert Werner, and Fredric Lieberman. The latter paper, entitled "Should Ethnomusicology be Abolished," along with insightful responses by professors Eugene Helm and Claude Palisca, should be required reading in all ethnomusicology classes (CMS 17/2, Fall 1977:198-206). Bruno Nettl added to the polemic with his 1979 article "Paradigms in the History of Ethnomusicology" (CMS 19/1, Spring 1979:67-77).

The 1980s revealed a slightly different direction as perhaps ethnomusicology came to terms with itself. Related disciplines, such as systematic musicology, psychomusicology (in an article by Jack Taylor), and sociomusicology (in an article by Barbara Reeder Lundquist) appeared in the spring issue of Volume 22 (CMS 22/1, Spring 1982:90-111).

In the 1990s a number of important articles addressing teaching issues and ethnomusicology appeared. Foremost were Michael Bakan's "Lessons from a World: Balinese Methods of Applied Music Instruction and the Teaching of Western 'Art' Music" (CMS 33-34, 1993-94:1-22), and Steven Cornelius' "Issues Regarding the Teaching of Non-Western Performance Traditions Within the College Music Curriculum" (CMS 35, 1995:22-32).

Some of the excellence and diversity of ethnomusicology related articles in the College Music Symposium can perhaps be credited to the makeup of its editorial board over the years. Several of the editorial board members with backgrounds or major interests in ethnomusicology have included Gerard Behague, Fredric Lieberman, Barbara Reeder Lundquist, Bruno Nettl, Donald Thompson, Ricardo Trimillos, and many others. Indeed, the College Music Symposium has been an important voice for ethnomusicology and many other music disciplines in higher education.

Happy Anniversary, CMS, and thank you, CMS.


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Dale A. Olsen

Dale A. Olsen is Professor Emeritus at Florida State University, where he taught ethnomusicology for 35 years. He received B.A. and M.A. degrees in historical musicology and flute performance from the University of Minnesota and the Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from UCLA. Dr. Olsen is a recipient of Fulbright-Hays, Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities, Distinguished Research Professor, and many other awards and grants. His major books include Music of the Warao of Venezuela: Song People of the Rain Forest (winner of the 1997 Merriam Prize for the "Most Outstanding Book in Ethnomusicology"); Music of El Dorado: The Ethnomusicology of Ancient South American Cultures; The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Vol. 2; The Garland Handbook of Latin American Music; The Chrysanthemum and the Song: Music, Memory, and Identity in the South American Japanese Diaspora; and Popular Music of Vietnam: The Politics of Remembering, The Economics of Forgetting. Dr. Olsen was principal flutist in the Philharmonic Orchestra of Chile from 1966-68 and in the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra in 1970. He has traveled, lived, and conducted fieldwork throughout Latin America; East Asia; Southeast Asia; Polynesia; Europe; and North America. He has served on the Council, Board of Directors, and as First Vice President of the Society for Ethnomusicology; as Board Member for Ethnomusicology/World Music and National President of The College Music Society; as President of the Florida Folklore Society; and as President of the Southeastern-Caribbean Chapter of SEM.

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