[Smt-talk] Music theory on Wikipedia

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 15 00:25:15 PDT 2011

Dear Colleagues,
I am not sure if my contribution to this topic is going to be valuable but I have been thinking about this issue as all of you. Of course, Wiki is the "most informed source on all trivial matters" as one of our colleagues joked once. However, in comparison with the New Groves, MGG and other sources it has one advantage which makes it special. It is not related to the biases of a single national tradition. The New Groves is very biased and it is not concealed by the authors of the original edition: they clamed that they wanted to promote British musicology. And, truly, the way they depicted Rachmaninoff or Rimsky-Korsakov, is an example of the most savage bigotry ever appeared in print. The Soviet Musical Encyclopedia of 1975, on the other hand, is also very, very biased and univocal. WIkipedia does not seem to adhere to any of these polar positions.
And the statement that "I, as a professional theorist, can help this issue" sounds also quite problematic. Of course, one of us can suggest a point of view, but it will be just that--a specific, original, yet very peculiar position on a narrow topic. 
Of course, we have to be more active contributing to Wiki, but as a source, it will withstand our critique and will survive it.
Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Conservatory
solfeggio7 at yahoo.com

--- On Thu, 7/14/11, kos at panix.com <kos at panix.com> wrote:

From: kos at panix.com <kos at panix.com>
Subject: [Smt-talk] Music theory on Wikipedia
To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Date: Thursday, July 14, 2011, 10:56 AM

Those of you who read my posts on AMS-L (the email discussion list of the American Musicological Society) might recall that I and a few others are enthusiastic about harnessing the power of Wikipedia for our disciplines.

As a librarian, I tend not to think of Wikipedia as a resource except for hard-to-find people or topics which are not covered in standard reference sources.  (Confession:  I do contribute articles on topics which I don't find sufficiently covered elsewhere.)

But I am in the minority.  As recent discussions at the American Library Association have revealed, after Google, Wikipedia is one of the 5 most used resources on the web throughout the world.

Some of us may find it difficult to understand that people born into a world where the Internet is a given will not think of consulting Grove/Oxford, MGG or other reference works first, second, or third.  They will first go to Google and Wikipedia.  Many people know that good Wikipedia articles supply a good list of sources -- and it is these notes & bibliographies that launch people on their research - not the bibliographies in Grove/Oxford.

Where does that leave us, the music theory community?  We can either choose to ignore it - which I tend to feel will increasingly marginalize us.  Or we can choose to engage it, which I feel can benefit those involved in music theory in numerous ways.

Someone had started a "WikiProject Music theory" basing the project template on other such projects:


(See also the discussion page)

When it was found that the founder was plagierizing articles, he was banned.  So despite stil having a few members, the project is dormant, waiting for energetic individuals to climb aboard and create/improve articles on music theory.

It seems to me to be a great opportunity for subscribers of SMT-TALK to contribute content to Wikipedia.  In so doing, music theory has an opportunity to raise its standing among humanities.

Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts,
Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
blog:  http://www.nypl.org/blog/author/44   Twitter: @kos2
  Listowner: OPERA-L ; SMT-TALK ; SMT-ANNOUNCE ; SoundForge-users
--- My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions ---

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