Comments to the Responses

President Bent chose not to reply to the responses, being content to "let [her] comments stand without making a response."

President Berry replies:

The agreed plan for the Vancouver plenary had included prior circulation of all eight statements to accord each speaker the opportunity to take account of the views of others; and although the four principal papers were distributed well in advance, of the respondents only Professor Hall provided her commentary for preliminary study. In these circumstances, and since any "accusing fingers" are assuredly not mine, certain of Professor Treitler's stridently defensive comments, addressed to relatively subsidiary elements of my statement, require response.

It is an irony of the moment that any constituent among our interdependent scholarly communities should suffer pique at the suggestion that music theory is—and is inescapably—less "scientific" than historical musicology; the latter, unavoidably, often concerned with documenting facts of a clarity and authenticity neither possible in nor the point of the vast core of effort in music theory. (Is "least scientific" a characterization so devoutly to be claimed?) If my ascriptions of fact and nonfact are to be considered, let it be as to definitions I offered: these are plain and evident, and I stand by their variant implications for scholarly involvements, even if I might better defer to Professor Treitler's clearer awareness of what music theorists do and strive to do. I was, for example, careful to characterize "scientific" method as projecting "hypotheses derived from systematic data, tested empirically."

It thus seems to me odd that a colleague should react with discomfiture to the benign suggestion that the historical discipline is typically and relatively prone to speaking (or at any rate seeking) truth, in conditions in which authentication is desirable and often possible. That is a vital factor of disciplinary orientation, however obscured by sophistry and illusion, and however one may or may not (I do not) hold that theoretical speculations are a loftier scholarly involvement. There is in the assertion of the historian's pursuit and grasp of fact no contradiction of what is patently obvious: that ". . . the establishment of facts is separate from their subsequent interpretation," that such interpretation is a prime and manifestly critical concern of many, and that historical "fact" is elusive and subject to reassessment. Nor can I see any implication of value—much less denigration of any particular scholarly preoccupation—in so sound an observation of fundamental delineations of objective and method.

Exception must be taken to the innocent view that an assertion of essential professional distinctions of method and issue, of course recognizing unmistakable overlaps, is somehow specious, and that our tentative separateness is contrived and artificial, or even conspiratorial. Such a view often implies that one discipline somehow embraces the others as subfields of effort. And to suggest that delineating critical professional variances is "destructive" is itself destructive, while to live candidly and bravely by our differences is ultimately constructive. We cultivate our disparate fields in disparate ways, and our necessary interactions in the professional colloquy to which most of us are profoundly committed are immeasurably fortified thereby. Professor Treitler's hypothetical program committee would not, I think, experience such bewilderment as he implies, and it is only in acceptance of fundamental professional divergences, in which Professor Treitler "sees no sense," that we come together in truly meaningful discourse, enriched by the provisional separateness that gives each of our disciplines a necessary vital identity.

President Rhodes replies:

1. Professors Scott and Wade pointed out that I was actually addressing the fact and value "of" scholarship rather than fact and value "in" scholarship. They are right. In any case, it seems appropriate to discuss not only what we are doing, but why we are doing it. Am I going too far in suggesting that there is or should be some relationship between fact and value in scholarship and fact and value of scholarship? I think not.

2. It may be that the use of the word "agenda" in conjunction with the word "research" unduly waves red flags, but either Professor Treitler misunderstood what I said (which is unlikely) or he misinterpreted it. I would, in fact, be among the first to agree with his assertion that it is nobody's business to tell the various disciplines what the focus of their research should be. What I had hoped to call for was the initiation of a dialogue among all the disciplines to consider some basic questions about the nature and purpose of our research. For example: what do we want to know?; what do we need to know?; why do we need to know it?; to whom and towards what end are our efforts directed?; what are the values that guide our scholarship?; what topics have been overlooked or omitted?; what is the relationship of scholarship to teaching?

Some of my colleagues have called these questions naive. Others see them as sinister and some view them as perhaps revolutionary. Why are we so threatened by these questions? The whole point of asking them, or so it seems to me, is to find out what we can do together to better inform the larger picture of our collective efforts.

President Robertson replies:

Ever since our Vancouver meetings I have pondered why we insist on separating emotion from what we are able to see as fact; from what we are capable of valuing, and especially, from what we perceive as beautiful. Kaluli women sing to make their men weep; Mapuche women sing to transport their prayers to the ancestors. The fact that these actions carry a motivation or a "use" makes them no less beautiful than English suites composed to mark the birthday of a ruler or American operas commissioned to mark two hundred years of independence. Beauty is perceived when we are moved by a piece of music; when we let ourselves understand a performance on the intuitive rather than factual level. The kind of denial of the intuitive self, the self that absorbs values that are later unretrievable in factual analysis, permeates even the way we separate the audience from the performer. How strange it would seem to us to see an ethnomusicologist/musicologist openly weep during the tragedy of Wozzeck, or during a Hopi performance that is meant to bring rain for all humankind. Must great works of the West be devoid of context, meaning, or message to find validity in a technocratic world? Is this the kind of value and aesthetic and perception of fact that leads critics to say that Broken Rainbows, a documentary on the relocation of the Navajo, is "too emotional?"

I am not pleading for a more emotional science, but rather underlining the point made by Bonnie Wade: we choose our objects of study because of personal aesthetics and values, and because these musics touch us in ways that other musics don't. Having spent a lifetime playing Bach on the violin, I know that I chose this repertoire because of something within me. During the initial months of field research among the Argentine Mapuche I cannot say that their songs moved me. But after sixteen years of persistent contact with Mapuche performers I feel that music as if it were my own—and respond to it in kind. Fact and value may well be acquired notions. As our world expands, we will have to expand our tunnel vision into a scope that shows how humans come to see themselves as more objective, wiser, better, more musical, or more talented than members of other groups.

The West has exported its values, ideologies, and musics for well over a century. Wisdom will come when we stop trying to justify our need to dominate and learn to listen to "strange" sounds that are indeed beautiful—not more beautiful, not less beautiful, not more or less valid, not more or less factual, but worthy of our most careful consideration in the formulation of theories about music.

Ethnomusicology will continue to champion the importance and vitality of diversity. We can only urge our sister disciplines to join us in this quest. Even more importantly, we must invite future forums of the kind we celebrated in Vancouver.