Tag Archives: Barry S. Brook

Barry Brook in Dijon

Barry Brook, François Lesure, and Frederic and Nanie Bridgman. 1960s. Photograph preserved in the archives of the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation, CUNY Graduate Center.

RILM’s founder, Barry S. Brook, spent the summer of 1965 pursuing research in Brussels, Paris, and Vienna; midway he attended the IAML congress in Dijon, held on 1 through 6 July. Among the 14 letters that he sent to his wife Claire back in New York City, the letter of 8 July 1965, which he wrote immediately after his return to Paris, describes his participation in the Dijon congress and his social activities around it. The letter reveals the young Brook, who was still unaccustomed to the attention he received from his older colleagues. Every dinner and every conversation was making an impression on him.

On Saturday 3 July he was particularly busy. At a round table at 11 am he explained his idea about notating music using the ordinary typewriter, known as the Plaine and Easy Code. After lunch he was the principal presenter in a round table from 2 to 5 pm titled Utilisation of data processing techniques in musical documentation. Here he made public for the first time his idea about founding an international bibliography of music literature, which he was already calling RILM. Brook’s emphasis in the session was on the possibilities of using computers for the control of music documentation, and he showed a film about IBM called Once upon a punched card (1964; the film may be viewed at the bottom of this post). In an earlier letter, from 2 July, Brook described how he and Françoise Lesure loaded up the back seat of their car with a carton of IBM brochures in three languages that he obviously distributed in the session.

Finally, on Sunday, 4 July, he presented a paper in the session on tempo in 17th- and 18th-century music, organized by the Société française de Musicologie and presided by Mme la comtese de Chambure, who would be a his key partner in founding the Répertoire International d’Iconographie Musicale (RIdIM) a few years later. This may have been his first meeting with Mme Chambure, since in this otherwise very detailed letter, full of names of people with whom he was working and dining, her name was not mentioned.

His paper was Le Tempo dans l’exécution de la musique instrumentale à la fin du XVIIIe siècle. Other presenters in the session was Mme de Chambure, Denise Launay, Charlese Cudworth, André Verchaly, and Claudie Marcel-Dubois.

A fragment of the letter concerning his engagements during the conference:

The congress, which was originally supposed to be more relaxation and wine gobbling than work and business meetings. turned out to be mad whirl. Many meetings—too many—and the “relaxed” part too filled with official receptions, dull speeches by [Député-]Maire [of Dijon, Chanoine Félix Kir], etc. and guided tours of museums and churches (separated by buses) that each lasted too many hours and too many miles. The food at the Cité Universitaire was cheap but dull and could be eaten only after a long wait in line. Despite all this, the congress itself has been a pleasant affair, which I enjoyed because of the people, the concerts, and small amount of wheeling and dealing, the spotlight which was on me more than anticipated since everyone kept referring to my big speech in later meetings.
Also we would drive into town for meals, even breakfast when the line was too long and that was the pleasantest of all—“we” included François [Lesure], Fritz Noske, Paule Guiomar, Nanna Schiødt from Denmark, Rita Benton, Nanie and Fredric [Bridgman], etc. Fredric has a big international job in Geneva where he lives; he & Nannie get together every weekend whether in Geneva or Paris; he took us out to dinner in a wonderful restaurant in the country 15 km outside Dijon on the way to Beaune, chez Jeanette (François, Nanna S., and me). Paule had to return to Paris to start her vacation with Michel so she couldn’t come). Also had breakfast with André Jurres of Holland who succeeds Fédorov as président [of IAML] & spent time with [John Howard] Davies of the BBC, who is good friend of Herman, [Enrich] Straram of French Radio, Sven Lunn of Denmark, spoke to [Friedrich] Blume at some length about R.I.L.M.
Now to the speeches, which as usual were down to the wire. Despite the complete lack of cooperation from Simone Wallon in charge of arrangements (projections etc.) everything was led smoothly with François [Lesure] & Paule’s [Guiomar] help. The first one on the code was changed by François at my request to 11 am instead of 9 on Saturday so as not to conflict with a round table & a RISM meeting starting then. I demonstrated the code and recent improvements with the aid of slides (made for Dallas) distributing French + German translations (Xeroxed by Elvood’s friend). The interest was very high & it was the best attended business meeting of the congress since other meetings stopped in time for those who wished to attend it.
The Round Table on Automation in Music Documentation was, according to François, the hit of the Congress. (I had missed the 1st while preparing for Code mtg, no.s 3 & 4 were very dull). I spoke for 1 ¼ hours, showed a 10 min IBM film, then followed by a German ([Walter] Reckziegel), Dane (Nanna Schiødt in English) and a Swiss ([Raymond] Maylan in French). It went very well. The Tempo meeting in a cold Abbey [de Fontenay] during a guided tour after a large winery lunch was ill conceived from the beginning and was not a success as a whole. Six speakers! 4 French who mainly spoke too fast and too low to be heard, [Charles] Cudworth who spoke charmingly as usual in English and me who spoke extempore—from careful notes—in French and did very well.
After all the intense work & preparation there was much relief and less letdown than anticipated. As indicated, the after round tables were not good, except for Vincent Duckles who was excellent and except that I was constantly being greeted or asked questions.

The letter continues by informing Claire about his research in Paris, his daily activities, the invitation to Vincent Duckles to use their New York apartment on the way through New York, and asking her to send him $150 to Vienna by special delivery.

Comments Off on Barry Brook in Dijon

Filed under From the archives, RILM

RILM’s Lockheed connection

BARRY-S.-BROOK

From the time of his earliest proposal for creating RILM, Barry S. Brook (above) had a vision that “scholars working on specific research projects will eventually be able to request a bibliographic search by the computer of its stored information and to receive an automatically printed-out reply.”

RILM was too small to implement this task alone, so in 1979—long before the Internet was commercialized in the 1990s—it made an agreement with Lockheed Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, a division of Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, for the distribution of its data through the telephone lines.

LockheedIn August 1979, the first month when RILM was available on the Lockheed platform, the database was searched 176 times by 24 users, earning $84.94 (see inset; click to enlarge).

Today, on the 40th anniversary of its Lockheed connection, RILM’s databases are searched online 16.5 million times per month.

Enhanced by Zemanta

3 Comments

Filed under Curiosities, From the archives, RILM

RILM Retrospective is now online!

RILM I-1

Editor’s note: While this retrospective collection is still available to subscribers, it is no longer offered as a separate product; we have decided to let this post remain online for its historical interest.

EBSCOhost has just launched RILM Retrospective Abstracts of Music Literature.

Reflecting myriad currents of thought—the twilight of Romanticism and the dawn of Modernism, the rise and fall of Marxism, and the advent of multiculturalism, to name just a few—RILM Retrospective offers a fascinating window on intellectual history through the prism of music. This constantly updated database documents an ever-expanding intellectual universe, not a straight line of progressive development. Looking back across the arc of history, we can begin to see how outlooks were formed, and we can assess the roles of the various currents and sidetracks that have shaped the disciplines that we pursue. The unique place of music in human life is salient at every turn.

When Barry S. Brook founded RILM in 1966 he set the cutoff date for coverage at 1967; however, he recognized the importance of similar coverage of earlier materials. He therefore initiated a retrospective series and commenced work on a volume that would cover conference reports published before 1967; this book was finally published by RILM in 2004 thanks to a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and its contents, and updates to it, are part of RILM Restrospective. Another project that Brook envisioned, a volume covering Festschriften, was partially completed with a book published by RILM in 2009 thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities; that book’s contents, along with over twice as many additional records, are also part of this database. RILM is now focusing on retrospective coverage of scholarly journals, adding at least 350 records each month.

Conference reports

Papers presented at conferences represent the cutting-edge research of their day, giving a snapshot of that moment in the development of their fields. Further, the changing nature and frequency of conferences over time can be tracked through this database; for example, The only 19th-century conferences devoted solely to music focused on Gregorian chant, and were held under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church; otherwise, musical topics arose only in conferences devoted to history, folklore, psychology, or questions of public and private property. The first conferences devoted to studies in musicology were held in 1900, in Paris.

Festschriften

Festschriften enact visions of order in both synchronic and diachronic domains. In the synchronic realm, they depict order within, and among, disciplines and institutions. They represent diachronic order in their images of history—also within disciplines and institutions, as well as within the overarching history of music. For example, by 1966 postmodern irony had not yet become fashionable, nor had the new-music world splintered completely. The narrative of contemporary music still related it directly to a salutary evolution from antiquity to the present. Some of the rhetoric of the serialists was downright utopian, and, especially after they had Stravinsky on board, many people assumed that they indeed represented the wave of the future. The academy was also more unified, and while ethnomusicologists were not universally welcomed into music departments, the cutthroat culture wars were yet to be fought.

Journals

Journals, particularly those devoted to specific disciplines or subdisciplines, allow similar tracking of intellectual developments, including the differentiation of particular scholarly streams. For example, before World War II papers on non-Western and traditional Western musics largely came from the field of folklore—a rather woolly domain at that time, whose denizens ranged from wide-eyed dilettantes to rigorous collectors and cataloguers—or from the young sciences of ethnology, anthropology, and psychology. In the 1950s attempts to synthesize the particular challenges and insights involved with all of these studies began to coalesce under the term ethno-musicology (the hyphen was soon abandoned), and beginning around that time several of the scholars involved were using journal articles to try to define their field and its dynamics.

Above, the back and front covers of RILM’s first publication (click to enlarge).

5 Comments

Filed under RILM, RILM news

Submissions: The old days

Before RILM set up online forms for sending us citations and abstracts, all submissions were made by writing or typing on forms like the one pictured above. We had forms in all necessary languages, color-coded for sorting. As was the case with most manual typewriters, corrections and diacritics all had to be added by hand. After we received completed forms, everything had to be retyped into the database (and, for non-English titles and abstracts, translated into English) at the International Center.

Over the years, countless volunteers have made such contributions to RILM, including some very distinguished figures in musicology and ethnomusicology. The example above was submitted by the preeminent Spanish musicologist José López-Calo (b.1922) for the retrospective project undertaken by RILM’s founder Barry S. Brook in the 1970s—a project that finally reached fruition with the publication of Speaking of Music: Music conferences, 1835–1966 in 2004.

Comments Off on Submissions: The old days

Filed under From the archives, RILM