[Smt-talk] Wiki

Frank Lehman flehman at fas.harvard.edu
Mon Aug 1 21:48:57 PDT 2011

Dear all,

I write this email not to opine on the value or uses of Wikipedia, which we
can agree have been well rehearsed by members of this listserv in the past
weeks. Rather, I wish to reiterate what I stated in my July 17 message: to
anyone who is willing, the Wikipedia page on
Prolongation<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prolongation> will
benefit greatly from your input. Even if you are concerned with vandalism,
inaccuracy, or the complexity of the subject matter, a few small
contributions (such as adding sources, examples, and clarifications where
needed) could go a long way in improving this "blasted" page. Many changes
would require but the smallest time commitment. If we are willing to to
write such lengthy and eloquent emails *about *Wikipedia, I have no doubt we
could write *on *Wikipedia with great success, even if only in small doses.

This evening I began an overhaul of the prolongation entry (as shrewdly
noticed by Bob Kosovsky). This included dividing the page into subsections
and fleshing them all out to a minor extent. I am amused that many of those
citations that Devin Chaloux remarked were valuable are the product of my
quite hasty first stab at fixing the page up. It is, to be honest, still a
mess--most egregious is the paucity of concrete references to Schenker's
writings. But I maintain it would not take much to turn it into something we
could collectively feel was respectable. Once again, there is a useful
page <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Prolongation> on which editors could
sound out strategies for improvement (or critiques -- believe me, I have no
strong attachment to the page's current content or layout!).

Finally, perhaps this apparently intense concern about online references
could be focused into an SMT interest group (my apologies if this has been
organized in the past and I'm unaware of it).

Frank Lehman
Harvard University, Ph.D. Candidate in Music Theory
flehman at fas.harvard.edu
Unsung Symphonies Blog <http://unsungsymphonies.blogspot.com/>

2011/8/2 Devin Chaloux <devin.chaloux at gmail.com>

> Thank you Yosef for the reply!
> I was speaking in terms of students and how they act today - I am very
> aware of where I can get top-end results on research. I use Grove very
> often.
> As a TA, I taught college freshmen last year and I had several run-ins with
> "well Wikipedia said..." The fact is - students get information from there
> whether or not we tell them too. In the mind of the student - if I'm off
> campus, it is a pain to get onto the VPN or proxy so I can search something
> up through the library website. I'm not sure how many clicks that takes on
> each school's website, but to our streamlining youth, they'll tend to go
> with the path of least resistance, which is probably Wikipedia.
> Regardless, we should be maintaining Wikipedia pages, to some degree, for
> all who aren't affiliated with academic institutions and want to find more.
> There are plenty of people in the world who could benefit from an article on
> Wikipedia and stimulate their own interest. These articles will never be at
> the level of a Grove entry. Drabkin's entry in Grove is a great resource
> that we can trust for a detailed explanation of prolongation.
> At the same time, Grove fails us sometimes where in articles just like
> prolongation, we have no bibliography or references section to learn more.
> Yet, I go to the Wikipedia page, and the reference section brings my
> attention to Salzer's "Structural Hearing", Salzer and Schachter's
> "Counterpoint in Composition", Drabkin's article on Schenker in the
> Cambridge Companion to Western Music, etc. But - it also cites Straus' "The
> Problem of Prolongation in Post-Tonal Music." No where in the Grove article
> did it mention anything about issues with prolongation in post-tonal music -
> and having read this article in congruence with a lecture dealing with
> Schenkerian analysis, it certainly is a resource I think is worthy of at
> least linking to the article. Nevertheless, the Wikipedia page ignores
> Larson's response to that article "The Problem of Prolongation in Tonal
> Music: Terminology, Perception, and Expressive Meaning" which I think would
> enhance the article.
> ...And I'm sure there are tens to hundreds more articles that deal with the
> issue of prolongation in music. We have this incredible resource (the
> Internet) at our hands to help us link articles we think are relevant and
> important to specific issues in our field. While I currently don't mind
> perusing through thousands of articles and books through databases like RILM
> and WorldCat, searching different keywords just to make sure I don't
> overlook a potential source, we have the ability to organize a reference
> list for major topics. In a utopian world, we could compile lists like David
> Carson Berry did with his "A Topical Guide to Schenkerian Literature: An
> Annotated Bibliography with Indices" and keep it up to date.
> It's not about making Wikipedia our new Grove - it's about utilizing
> Wikipedia for its strengths. We can direct our students to, rather an avoid
> Wikipedia, learn how Wikipedia could be a "tool" to help jump start their
> research. Between that, access to non-academic affiliated people, and the
> ability to update Wikipedia instantly, it should be a resource we should
> utilize.
> At this point, I will bow out of this discussion. I only intended to first
> shed light on the situation from a current student's perspective. I hope I
> have succeeded at this point.
> Happy analyzing!
> --
> *Devin Chaloux*
> University of Cincinnati - College-Conservatory of Music
> M.M. in Music Theory '12
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