Review by Choice Review
These first two volumes (of a projected 12) portend great things for the set. Among the 250 contributors are most of the leading scholars, musicians, and journalists in popular music studies. Nearly 20 years in the making, the encyclopedia responds to a need for a comprehensive approach to popular music, one that would give due attention to non-Anglo-American musics. To that end, much thought was devoted to the taxonomy and layout of each volume. Rather than simply listing entries alphabetically, each volume presents broad topics in some detail, with indexes in each volume to bring subjects together. Besides topics one expects in a popular music encyclopedia, some surprising topics (crime, political theory) are the subject of entries. Although a cumulative index is planned to bring together topics from the entire set, in the meantime cross-references in the text to other articles would have been most welcome. In the set's only glaring flaw, these two volumes deal almost exclusively with recorded 20th-century popular music, making only passing references to historical popular music (e.g., ballads, concert or marching band music) or print methods of dissemination. The editors should acknowledge that a chronological boundary was crossed. Part 1 of volume 1, "Social and Cultural Dimensions," (over 400 pages) demonstrates the thoroughly academic basis of the work and provides a context for these and future volumes. It is characteristic of this approach that articles on technical topics are arguably better handled by other reference works. Volume 2 addresses various kinds of ensembles (polka band), individuals, instruments, and music theory issues. All articles are signed and include relevant bibliographic and discographic references. An important, if somewhat skewed, addition to the canon of popular music studies. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and higher. J. Farrington Eastman School of Music
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.