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British Forum for Ethnomusicology

Editorial Preface
Source: British Journal of Ethnomusicology, Vol. 6 (1997), pp. v-vi
Published by: British Forum for Ethnomusicology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3060827
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EDITORIAL PREFACE
WITH THIS SIXTH VOLUME of the British Journal
of Ethnomusicology,
the
current four Editors take their leave of the Journal and hand it on to their
successors. After much discussion of the best
way forward,
Suzel
Reily
and
Martin
Clayton
were
appointed joint Editors,
for a
period
of three
years, by
the
committee of the British Forum for
Ethnomusicology
at a
meeting
in
September
1998. At the same time it was
agreed
to set
up
an enlarged Editorial Board to act
as advisors to the
Editors;
the
composition
of this Board is
yet
to be
fully
determined, but the
present
Editors were
delighted
to
accept
an invitation to be
included in
it, and one of us
(CP)
will take
up
the role of Reviews Editor. Not
only
shall we assist the new Editors in whatever
ways
we
can,
we shall be
proud
to remain associated with the Journal to which we
gave
birth in 1992. We offer
our
congratulations
and best wishes to the new
Editors, whose contact details
appear
on the inside front and back covers of this issue.
In this first
phase
of its
history,
under a team of four editors none of whom had
had
experience
of
producing
a
journal
ab
initio,
and all of whom had to steal time
from their academic careers, BJE has struggled through its
growing pains.
The
first issue took forever to
produce,
as four editors based at three institutions in
two cities learned how to solicit
papers
and review
copies, give
feedback to
authors, copy edit, cope
with non-standard romanisations and
specialised fonts,
produce camera-ready copy,
and so forth-not to mention determining the ideal
weight
for the cover
paper (we got
it
wrong),
and
finding envelopes
of the
right
size. In
addition, since we wanted the
journal
to look
professional
and attractive
to
readers, we had to make decisions for the future about
page design,
typography,
and house
style.
As a result,
in the end BJE 1 did not
appear
until
several months into the next calendar
year.
We have not
yet
succeeded in
producing
an issue in less than a
year,
so the
problem
remains that each volume of
BJE arrives months after the
subscription period
has ended.
(The
current volume
is even later than
usual;
we
hope
that the
greater
length of this volume will
compensate.)
The
time-consuming
task of
producing
and distributing a
journal brings
little
overt reward in an era when British
university
staff are
increasingly submerged
in
administrative and financial matters, and faced with assessments and other
challenges;
and when the funding councils' Research Assessment Exercise offers
scant
recognition
for editing a
journal. Indeed, the financial
penalties
for
devoting
time to such an
activity
instead of furthering one's own research can be extreme.
In such an
environment, it is no longer
practical
for an academic or three to
carry
an issue from
conception
to
completion.
The solution to these
problems,
in
addition to the
expanded
Editorial Board, is
professional
assistance and
perhaps
ultimately
commercial
publication.
The challenge is to take these
steps
without
the Journal's cost to members
rising unacceptably.
At
any rate, as well as
developing
a
strong sympathy
for the editors of other
journals,
we
hope
we have also
developed
a
journal
in which the members of the
v
British Forum for
Ethnomusicology
take
pride. Looking
at the articles carried so
far
(see
the Index on
pp.
218-9 of this volume),
20 focus
primarily
on Asia
(incuding
the Near and Middle
East),
13 on
Europe (including
the United
Kingdom
and the
Republic
of
Ireland),
but
only
5 on Africa, 3 on the Americas
and none on Oceania. This distribution
closely
reflects not
only
the submission
rate but also
(apart
from the
underrepresentation
of
Africa)
the research interests
of British-based scholars. Most articles have been
single-culture ethnographies
(often
with
significant
theoretical content as
well);
several have a historical
emphasis;
but few have so far focussed
squarely
on theoretical issues in a cross-
cultural
perspective.
In
glancing
back over the first six issues of BJE, we note that the
primary
function of the Journal, as
expressed
in the Preface to volume 1, was "the
encouragement
of local
scholarship". By
"local" we meant the UK (hence
the
"British" in our
title),
because the Journal was and still remains the
membership
journal
of what was then the International Council for Traditional Music
(UK),
and has since become
(in 1995)
the British Forum for
Ethnomusicology.
Under its
new name that
organization
has continued to
flourish,
and has continued to hold
two
lively
conferences
every year;
we are
pleased
to note that the Journal has
attracted attention to the activities of the Forum, and vice versa. A number of BFE
conference
papers
have
subsequently appeared
in
BJE,
and such contributions
will continue to be
strongly encouraged
in future volumes.
At the same time we
expressed
in the Preface to volume 1 the
hope
that "the
journal
will be of interest to our colleagues overseas". We have since received a
number of favourable reactions from abroad, and are
happy
that
through
our
pages
the work of UK-based scholars has reached a wider audience.
Conversely
we have been
privileged
to
carry
a number of contributions from overseas
authors. The
policy
of the Journal under its new
management
will be to
encourage
high-quality
contributions from authors of all nationalities. This
policy
reflects
the
increasingly outward-looking tendency
of the
parent organization, BFE,
which has
recently
made a
practice
of inviting distinguished
guest speakers
from
overseas to each annual conference.
In
bidding
adieu we wish to thank the contributors, reviewers, referees, and all
who have assisted with text
editing
and
formatting
volumes 1 to 6, for their co-
operation
and forbearance.
Special gratitude
is owed to the School of Oriental and
African Studies of the
University
of London,
and more
especially
to its
Department
of Music
(formerly
Centre of Music
Studies),
where each issue has
been
prepared
at no small cost to staff time and resources; and also to Hobbs the
Printers for their unfailing
efficiency.
THE EDITORS
vi