Preface to PRE 25th Anniversary Edition

In scholarly disciplines, specialized journals play a multi-faceted role. They demonstrate the intellectual concerns of the field they belong to, express the views and interests of individual writers, and provide a platform for dialectic interactions among scholars. In figurative terms, a good journal is: a mirror that reflects the field’s collective and individual thought processes; a window that grants the readership access to different perspectives; and an intellectual salon or proverbial French café, in which philosophical debates may take place. The creation of a successful journal and the assurance of its long-term longevity requires visionary thinking, determination, and sustained devotion. This certainly applies in the case of student edited and managed journals. Students who undertake publication responsibilities are essentially motivated by scholarly interest, by an inner urge to be creative, and by a desire to gain relevant experience. Obviously, they perform the task, in addition to their rigorous academic involvements as students. The editorial commitments are not long-term since students usually leave to do field research and eventually graduate.

With this in mind, we may look at the life history and impact of the present journal. My memory takes me back to about twenty-five years ago, when a few of our ethnomusicology graduate students came to my office in Schoenberg Hall, sat down, and told me in a confident voice, “We are planning to form a new journal. We chose a name for it, Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology [PRE].” In conversation, they also mentioned that they were looking for a suitable logo for the journal. Interestingly, the idea of a journal was not totally foreign in our UCLA ethnomusicology program, which had already produced its own publications, including the journal Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology, begun in 1966. The plan for PRE soon came to full fruition. The first issue came out in 1984 adorned with a basic and quite elegant round-shaped logo. Funded by the Graduate Student Association of the University of California at Los Angeles and copyrighted by the UCLA Graduate Student Association, this inaugural volume was edited by our students, Susan D. Clark, Jane Sugarman, and Gordon R. Thompson, with Jane Thompson as Assistant Editor. The aim, as outlined in the editor’s preface, set the tone for later years: “The primary objective of the journal is to provide a forum for academic articles pertaining to ethnomusicology written by graduate students both at UCLA and elsewhere, but contributions are welcome from any interested members of the scholarly community… While anticipating that the majority of submissions will come from scholars in ethnomusicology programs, the editorial board wishes especially to encourage contributions from related disciplines such as anthropology, dance ethnology, folklore, psychology, and sociology” (PRE, Vol. 1, 1984).

The journal lived up to its ideals of good journalism, as well as to its own expressed mission. Glanced at sequentially, the various contributions reflect the developing interests and concerns of ethnomusicologists since the mid 1980s. In the first few issues, the subject matter highlighted the intellectual climate of the field, especially at the UCLA Ethnomusicology program at the time. Ethnographic studies on the music and musical cultures of Indonesia, Africa, India, Europe, Latin America, and other areas of the world were prominent. Similarly, numerous works addressed such phenomena as bi-musicality, musical change, compositional techniques, inter-ethnic musical borrowing, ideology and music, musical analysis, and history of world music theory. Also observed is the influence of other disciplines especially in the social sciences. Interest in such related issues as ethnicity, tradition, and ritual was demonstrated in individual articles and book reviews. Particularly noteworthy is the ethnomusicology-musicology debate, for example in a colloquium, featuring a paper by Stephen Blum titled “Ethnomusicologists vis-à-vis the Fallacies of Contemporary Music Life,” followed by responses from Gordon Thompson, Victoria Lindsay Levine, Timothy Rice, Richard d’A. Jensen, Susan D. Clark, James Robbins, Carol E. Robertson, Charles Keil, Paul W. Humphreys, Pirkko Moisala, and Steve Feld (PRE, Vol. 3, 1986). We may also take note of the published proceedings of a local panel on music and trance, which stemmed from a UCLA Ethnomusicology seminar that addressed Gilbert Rouget’s work on the topic and was taught by Prof. James Porter. The panel, with Porter as moderator, hosted UCLA experts from related disciplines namely: Professors Donald Cosentino from African Studies; John Kennedy from the Department of Anthropology; Douglas Price-Williams from the Department of Anthropology; Ali Jihad Racy from Ethnomusicology, then part of the Department of Music; and Johannes Wilbert from Anthropology (PRE, Vol. 4, 1987). Further themes of interest ensued in the 1990s. As in previous issues, the treatments reflected the writers’ own interests and research findings, as we observe in studies on the Turkish zurna (double-reed); music and protest in Tiananmen Square 1989; and electronic mail special interest groups related to music and dance. Also particularly significant was the publication of the late Prof. Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy’s keynote speech that he gave as the Seeger Lecture at the Society for Ethnomusicology 1995 annual meeting in Los Angeles. Photographically illustrated, the text was accompanied by an audio CD narrated by Prof. Jairazbhoy and co-produced by Dr. Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy (PRE, Vol. 8, 1996/1997). The few most recent issues of the journal have continued to illustrate the thematic diversity encountered in earlier issues, as well as to demonstrate the increased interest in critical theory and popular culture. Thus among the issues addressed are gender, feminism, the connectedness of culture and history, and postcolonial politics. Similarly studied are such phenomena as hip hop, free improvisation in jazz, American Idol, and the ramifications of using ethnographic material in commercial musical works.

To conclude, since its inception, PRE has gained a respectable position in the world of musical scholarship. As a refereed journal aimed at publishing qualified works by UCLA students and others, including well-established scholars in the field, PRE has upheld a standard for excellence that applied to all its contributors. Meanwhile, the journal has offered an outlet for many budding scholars, especially students, to have their works published and to make their ideas widely known to others in the scholarly community. It has also rewarded excellence by considering for publication papers that have won the Ki Mantle Hood Prize at the Southern California regional Society for Ethnomusicology meetings. Although sometimes its appearance had to be delayed for understandable logistical and academic circumstance, the journal has retained its intellectual momentum and is reaching a large international audience. Having been the faculty advisor, and at times co-advisor, for the Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology for so many years, I have always felt honored and pleased to work with the students who have dedicated so much time and effort toward the success of the journal. Many of these students are now established scholars and highly respected members of various academic institutions.