Dear SASRIM Members

My annual newsletter reaches you later this year than has been the case in the past two years, for which I sincerely apologise. It has been a busy start of year for me, as I am sure it has for all of you.

1. News from the Executive Committee

Our last general election of executive committee members was held at the AGM in Durban in June 2009. This means that the three-year term of the current committee is fast coming to an end and that a new committee will have to be voted in at our forthcoming AGM in Pretoria this year. Some current committee members have declared themselves willing to stay on for a second three-year term and will thus be available for re-election, as is permitted according to our constitution, whilst others have opted not to do so. In the interim I urge you all to think seriously about colleagues you wish to nominate to manage the affairs of SASRIM on your behalf. It is particularly important, I think, that we constitute an executive committee that will actively (and pro-actively) represent the diversity of our scholarly interests and, if at all possible, will also be inclusive of the various geographic centres in our country. Each university music department, in particular, inclines to a scholarly sub-culture somewhat unique to itself, and it would be a pity if the interests embedded in such sub-cultures were not equally heard and valued in a national forum such as SASRIM’s executive committee.

As is my custom at this time, I again take this opportunity to thank the current executive committee most sincerely for their loyalty and dedication to the affairs of the society. Each one of these members lends the whole their unique brand of wisdom, skill and competence, without which my task would be that much harder and our society would be that much poorer. Although I am loathe to single out any one individual amongst them, I cannot but make special mention of the valuable contribution of Annemie Stimie, our secretary, who has single-handedly transformed SASRIM’s online administrative system, facilitating communication and access to information for all concerned. We are all deeply indebted to her.

2. Message from the Chairperson

When I first took up the role of SASRIM chairperson, I wrote to you in the newsletter of 2010 of my long-standing impression that we, as a relatively newly amalgamated body, continued to face the challenge of healing the breaches that divided our scholarly community. And these divisions, as was my opinion at the time and still is today, were not a matter of a simple divide between the interests of the former Ethnomusicological Symposium and those of the former Southern African Musicological Society. On the contrary, I am gratified and encouraged – as I’m sure are all of you – by the almost seamless manner in which these two bodies have developed a common purpose and sense of identity under the banner of SASRIM. Of course there is still work to be done in this regard, as no doubt there always will be, but I was reminded of (and encouraged by) just how far we have already come in achieving this aim – more so perhaps than many other communities of music scholars across the globe – when I recently read the call for conference paper proposals for a specially planned Joint Annual Meeting of the (still divided) American Musicological Society, Society for Ethnomusicology and Society for Music Theory, to be held in New Orleans in November of this year, which reads, in part, as follows: “For the 2012 Joint Annual Meeting, the specification of a theme and topics has been suspended for maximum programmatic flexibility. With cross-disciplinary confluences occurring regularly now, it seems appropriate to call for proposals not only of particular interest to us, but also that emerge from interests shared across our disciplines.”

What concerned me at the time of writing my newsletter of 2010 was therefore not that so-called ethnomusicologists and so-called musicologists in South Africa were still self-consciously seeking means to best accommodate “cross-disciplinary confluences” amongst their ranks, as our American colleagues appear to be, but something quite different – something that probably best resonates with the now somewhat passé divide between “old musicologists” and “new musicologists” that long plagued the international musicological community as much as it did ours, where the vehement call to politicize musicological discourse was answered equally vehemently by one to return to “the music itself”, and where the latter group at times felt itself so marginalised as to hover on the brink of complete capitulation.

Today, what I sense is a coming of age in our discourse, as indeed has been the case the world over. Not only is there a greater predisposition amongst proponents of both camps to acknowledge the value of the insights of the other, but there has also developed a new sensitivity to the danger of any “ism”, any form of essentialism, whether “old” or “new”. In embracing an open-mindedness towards its methods and its agendas, we have begun to unlock the kind of potentiality within our discipline that is so beautifully described in the words of James Currie when he writes that “Musicology, in short, could be like music – a space where the possibility of something unexpected is allowed – precisely by not deciding in advance what is to be achieved”. As my term as SASRIM chairperson draws to a close, I can only echo Currie’s words as my own wish for SASRIM’s future: long may our open-mindedness continue!

3. SASRIM Conference 2012

Our conference this year, as most of you will be aware, will be held at the music department of the Tshwane University of Technology on 19, 20 and 21 July. Our colleagues at TUT have put together a formidable team of people to prepare for our visit, and all bodes well for a truly wonderful three days. At this stage we are hoping to welcome as keynote speaker world-renowned scholar and composer of African Music, and director of the International Center for African Music, Prof JH Kwabena Nketia from Ghana. This has not yet been fully confirmed, but we will keep you posted. In addition to its programme of papers, lecture demonstrations and panel discussions, our local arrangements committee is hard at work organising what promises to be some truly exciting fringe events and concert performances for the entertainment of conference attendees, so don’t miss out!

The proposal deadline is this Thursday, 15 March. If you have not yet put pen to paper, therefore, I hope you will do so very quickly indeed. A venue has also been set aside especially for poster presentations, so please do keep this option in mind as well.

As has been the case in recent years, SASRIM will again assist students who have paper proposals accepted for the conference, by contributing something towards their travel and subsistence costs.

The conference website where registrations can be done and more detailed information is available will soon be up and running, at which time it will also be linked to the conference page on the SASRIM website for easy access. We will inform you as soon as this link is available.

4. SAMUS

The most recent edition of SAMUS, a bumper edition containing volumes 30 and 31 (2010 and 2011), is currently at the printers and should be available very soon. My sincere thanks to Nishlyn Ramanna, Jeff Brukman, Jaco Kruger and Diane Thram for their excellent work in putting this double volume together in record time, enabling us to make up for time lost at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010, and getting us back on track as regards the volume numbers of editions and the years in which they appear. In addition, some very exciting plans are already afoot for the next few SAMUS editions, about which Nishlyn will no doubt tell you more in his editor’s report at the forthcoming AGM.

5. Membership Fees

In view of the relatively healthy state of our finances, largely due to the increased sales of SAMUS articles through databases such as Sabinet and Ebsco, you will be pleased to know that the SASRIM executive committee has voted that membership fees yet again remain unchanged. These fees are:
Ordinary member: ZAR250
Overseas member/library subscriptions: ZAR350
Student member/retiree: ZAR125 (Students to please provide proof of registration).

Please follow the instructions on our website under “Membership” to affect your 2012 payments as soon as possible.

I wish you a very happy and productive 2012, and hope to see you all in Pretoria in July.

Best wishes

Zelda Potgieter (SASRIM Chair)