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Volume 60 / Humanities


ALFRED E. LEMMON, Director, Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

SEVERAL IMPORTANT TRENDS in the development of Caribbean and Central American musicology are clearly evident in the articles selected for review. Stevenson, in his powerful article, "The Latin American Music Educator's Best Ally: The Latin American Musicologist," (Inter-American Music Review, 2:2, Spring/Summer, 1980, p. 117–119) noted the importance of "the conscientious appraisal of popular music purveyed everywhere in Latin America" and that to "codify" the results of such studies is a "proper musicological task." He further notes that the "musical youth of Latin America deserves an opportunity to know their own musical forefathers." Tremendous strides have been taken in fulfilling the vision of Stevenson's now more than 20 year old essay.

First, studies in respected ethnomusicological journals have a greater focus on the region. Likewise, journals such as Mesoamerica have been willing to publish articles dealing with music. Second, there is an emerging group of scholars in the region examining their musical past. Finally, through the heroic efforts of the Sociedad Española de Autores y Editores, the monumental Diccionario de la Música Española e Hispanoamericana has appeared. Several volumes of the dictionary are cited in the Music chapter of HLAS 60.

Produced under the able leadership of Emilio Casares Rodicio, the dictionary is a multivolume work similar in nature to the great dictionaries devoted to the music of England, France, Germany, and Italy. The Diccionario has gathered an enormous amount of information, but equally important is its role in developing musicological studies in the region. The vast majority of the articles were written by residents of the region. By periodically gathering contributing editors, selected from each country, a forum for discussion was created. Finally, the importance of the daily contributions of the distinguished Cuban musicologist Eli Rodríguez to the project must be dutifully noted. The contents of the Diccionario reflect the varied musical heritage of Spain, Spanish America, and, in this particular case, Central America and the Caribbean. To illustrate this musical heritage, the volumes are enhanced by the presence of maps, facsimiles of music, and illustrations. Articles on the most current popular music "stars," indigenous musical instruments and dance dramas, appear alongside contributions on 19th- and 20th-century musical venues and essays on the great masters of the colonial period. While displaying the scholarly talent of the region, it is noteworthy that many of the authors were born after 1950. Fortunately, the editorial staff included the biographies of many of the contributing musicologists. In essence, within the pages is found a latent "Who's Who of Central American and Caribbean Musicology." Efforts to secure the best authors were not limited by geographic boundaries. The numerous articles on Guatemalan dance drama by Carroll E. Mace of the US reflect the culmination of a lifetime of work.

The articles selected for comment from the Diccionario were chosen to demonstrate the tremendous wealth and variety of information contained in this magnificent work. Given the vast scope of the Diccionario, it must be on the shelf of every respected music library, but also part of every library's Latin American holding.

Stevenson, in his 1980 essay, set forth two tasks: "to make more widely known the names of the past musical geniuses of Latin America," and to integrate the music into "the curricula of the national conservatories." In order to accomplish that goal, he felt a "revolution" was needed. The revolution, especially in the case of Central America and the Caribbean, came in the form of this magnificent contribution of the Sociedad Española de Autores y Editores working with its allied institutions. With the goal of systematically gathering and publishing information on the region, and by encouraging the musicological efforts therein, the musical recognition due Central America and the Caribbean has been greatly advanced both outside and within its boundaries.

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