Review by Choice Review
The first in a ten-volume set, this volume is large by any measure. It has an 8x10 format and more than 800 pages; conceptually, it covers a wide range of topics in 39 chapters by 35 authors. It includes a CD with 21 examples, all but one of which are previously unreleased field recordings by 12 of the authors. The organization will continue in future volumes. Part 1, "Overview," consists of four chapters: an overview of Africa as a continent, music in the context of other arts, a far-reaching overview of African music by the leading African music scholar, J.H. Kwabena Nketia, and the representation of African music in early documents. Part 2, "Issues and Processes in the Music," consists of 17 chapters devoted to conceptual topics: music and other arts, music and healing, music and Islam, technology, notation, timbre, time, art-composed music, African dance, rural/urban interchange, the role of Latin American music in Africa, popular music, and the guitar in Africa. Part 3, "Regional Case Studies," offers five overview articles that introduce West, North, East, Central, and Southern regions, each followed by one to four articles focused on a country or an ethnic group, for a total of 13. The chapters in Part 3 are the most straightforward, presenting basic information in textbook style. The chapters in Part 2 range from straightforward to arcane, but contribute most to the distinctive nature of this volume. Other distinctive features are the page layout, with a wide left margin and a title bar at the top of every left-hand page which contains either a quote or a brief glossary taken from the two facing pages. These distinctive features are quirky: the quotes, printed in large font, do not always seem strikingly important, while the glossary, usually containing significant terms, is printed in a tiny font, making it harder to read than the already small print in the text. Although there are many good black-and-white photos, modifying the format slightly could allow for more and larger photographs. Two suggestions that would improve future volumes: include the author's name at the top of each page where the chapter title already appears, and list the authors. The well-known authors need no introduction, but those relatively unknown remain unknown, since we learn only their names. Shortcomings aside, this is a significant volume containing significant and timely research. Although the level is primarily professional rather than introductory, it belongs in all academic music libraries. R. Knight Oberlin College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
The first in what will be a 10-volume set covering music around the world, Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: Africa is a fascinating, informative presentation describing what may be to Westerners the most unfamiliar music of the world. Editor Ruth Stone of Indiana University, who has long been studying and writing about African music, has brought together a multitude of distinguished scholars and authorities from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the U.S. to provide historical, cultural, and societal insights into the music of the African continent. It is "intended to present a comprehensive view of the music of Africa from the perspectives of those who have studied it and those who make it." Music, dance, and life all combine in African societies, and there are many variations across the continent. Arrangement is not alphabetical but topical and regional (by linguistic families), with each chapter written by a scholar. The volume is divided into three parts. The first, Introduction to African Music, discusses Africa as a whole and includes four chapters, with the longest titled "The Scholarly Study of African Music: A Historical Review." Part 2, Issues and Processes in African Music, has 17 chapters covering themes such as the integration of music with other arts and practices and the integration of various cultures as people moved to and within Africa.Representative chapter titles include "Notation and Oral Tradition," "Tumbuka Healing," and "Intra-African Streams of Influence." The last part provides regional case studies giving overviews of five areas (West, North, East, Central, and Southern Africa) as well as such particular chapters as "Praise Singing in Northern Sierra Leone," "Music and Poetry in Somalia," and "Harmony in Luvale Music of Zambia." There are many black-and-white photographs and illustrations, both historical and contemporary, and many examples of musical and rhythmical notation throughout the volume. Some pages have large print quotes from the text set off for emphasis, and others provide a few definitions of terms and phrases used, set in smaller print. Both notation and words are given for many songs; words usually include both the original language and English. No pronunciations are provided. A compact disc of music illustrating various performance practices accompanies the volume so one can both read about and listen to examples of the music. Symbols are used in the text margins to indicate relevant track numbers on the disc. All chapters have references listed including articles, books, theses, and recordings. The volume ends with a series of guides to further resources, each divided by region: an extensive bibliography, a guide to recordings of African music, and a guide to films and videos. In addition, there are notes on the audio examples, a glossary, and a detailed index. The index is certainly required to give full use of the volume for reference purposes. One thing that's missing is a list of contributors with their credentials and affiliations; perhaps this will be included in the final volume of the set. Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: Africa is unique in its scope and viewpoint. If all volumes measure up to the first, it will indeed be a major publishing event. In the meantime, the Africa volume will be a must purchase for all academic music libraries, and, indeed, for any academic or large public library with a clientele of anthropologists, linguists, historians, sociologists, or Africanists. It is a tour de force that provides scholarly insights into this relatively unknown but important part of the world's music and culture.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
This first in a planned ten-volume set is not an A-Z reference encyclopedia but 39 original essays by 34 scholars from four continents. They sample philosophies and methodologies of ethnomusicology as well as a large variety of African music and dance practices: ritual, religious, social, popular, art. Some are more gracefully accessible than others, but all are authoritatively based on field work. Essays displaying self-consciousness regarding what ethnomusicologists do, in the early part of the book, give way to articles reviewing broad themes (e.g., notation, music as healing, effects of travel and intercultural contact) and finally to reports of research in specific African cultures. The layout is handsome, and though there are no footnotes, lists of references cited at the end of each article are long. The index and glossary were not seen, and the accompanying music CD was not heard, but it evidently will contain hard-to-find examples. For academic and large public libraries serving serious students of African music and/or ethnomusicology.Bonnie Jo Dopp, Univ. of Maryland Lib., College Park (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.