Packing my Library
In reviewing and packing my musicological library in preparation for a move, I came across documentation for a variety of studies and projects from the late 1970s and early 1980s that were based upon an electronic future for musical scholarship. Twenty years ago, such pioneering musicologists as Ian Bent, Barry S. Brook, Jan LaRue, and William Malm were assembling large searchable databases of writings, music, and instruments, even as theorists like Mario Baroni, Allen Forte, and Arthur Wenk were exploring computer technology to analyze and devise “grammars” of melodic construction and to identify and compare pitch-class sets. In those pre-Oakland (barely pre-Contemplating
Music) days of the American Musicological Society, the gathering of such sources was considered an honorable practice—indeed, we owe the eminently useful RILM to the perspicacious Brook. While these collections of data ostensibly were to enable comprehensiveness in study and serve the purposes of comparative analysis, they ultimately did not lead to interpretation, not at least of the critical type that Joseph Kerman and later Lawrence Kramer and Susan McClary were advocating.