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The Trombone: An Annotated Bibliography.

The Trombone: An Annotated Bibliography. By G. B. Lane. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1999. [xvi, 425 p. ISBN 0-8108-3465-0. $65.]

One need only observe the exponential increase in trombone research over the last thirty years to realize that a book-length bibliography focusing exclusively on the trombone is long overdue. Written primarily for the trombone community but useful for broader research, this selective bibliography provides access to articles, dissertations, books, essays, Web sites, bibliographies, and discographies in several languages. The Trombone enjoys mixed success: it is personal and passionate as well as interesting to read, and citations are generally reliable; it is also clumsy and relies as much on extensive citations and cross-references as on original substance.

The Trombone improves on Mark Fasman's unannotated Brass Bibliography (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990) by updating the material and adding annotations. G. B. Lane lists many pre-1988 items not cited by Fasman (whose cutoff date was 1988), though Fasman includes significantly more German scholarship. Most material was culled from music periodical indexes, OCLC's Online Union Catalog, Dissertation Abstracts, RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, International Trombone Association (ITA) publications, and Mary Rasmussen's Brass Quarterly bibliographies; Lane does not give further criteria for inclusion. Books and dissertations are well represented through the early 1990s; articles are more carefully selected and continue through the mid-1990s.

The bibliography is organized in seven broad categories: "General Reference" (bibliographies, discographies, miscellaneous), "Biographies/General," "Biographies/Jazz, Popular, Studio," "Music" (i.e.. worklists and research), "Performance Practices," "Instruments and Equipment," and "Pedagogy." Each class is arranged alphabetically by author, with 1,305 consecutively numbered entries. Significant overlap between chapters and some seemingly arbitrary assignments may be an initial stumbling block for users. Why, for example, are articles on cleaning trombones included under "Pedagogy"? Better collocation of materials and more subcategories would have helped users browse for periodicals, histories, worklists, and special topics (e.g., ensembles, jazz improvisation, or iconography). Many items in chapter 1 ("General Reference")--legal issues, poems, medicine, orchestral excerpts, and specialized bibliographies--should be classed elsewhere. Periodicals would be better arranged by title rather than editor; at least one (ITA Newsletter) has multiple entries.

Appendixes list selected nontrombone periodicals, obituaries of recently deceased trombonists, and ITA award recipients and presidents; all arc unindexed.

The annotations are both delightful and dismaying. While many items have abstracts, Lane more often provides historical and biographical background, definitions, and copious references to other entries, reviews, related research, tributes, responses, and addresses. On one hand, the annotations evoke images of a revered instructor; the intended audience will find them readable, interesting, and informative. On the other, they look more robust than they actually are: sources are overdocumented, cross-references are not concise, some materials seem to be unexamined (these entries are not marked), and worst, one gets the impression that Lane is "filling in." (For example, see entry 932 for an extensive annotation that never discusses the article itself.) An effective research tool should have specific information about the resources, and many cited items, including the trombone article in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London: Macmillan, 1980), merit their own entries. Also, several entries imp recisely inform readers that cited items are "located in" RILM and Dissertation Abstracts (numbers are included); this may mislead novices.

Keywords in each entry provide the basis for the index, help users learn the controlled vocabulary, and serve as abbreviated annotations. They include several subject terms, institution or organization, names or concepts not mentioned in the annotations, and document type (e.g., "discography"; these terms are unfortunately omitted if entries appear in similarly named sections of chapter 1). The vocabulary is reasonably well controlled, but often terms are not applied where needed, and others are too broad. The addition of author and subject keywords for an entry's cross-references obscures the content of the actual cited entries and creates annoying multiple references in the index--for example, "Dillon, Steve" leads to one article by Dillon and six entries with cross-references to Dillon's article; it does, however, ensure indexing of references without their own entries.

The author-subject index is both reliable and unwieldy. Terms with more than a few entry numbers need subdivision to facilitate use. Lane includes titles (nonuniform) of compositions treated in the cited entries but not listed in the annotations or keywords; many, but not all, of the composers are also indexed. There is no title access to entries or references. Lane italicizes author entry numbers but does not distinguish between cross-references and items about a person or topic. To find material about a person, one must wade through a sea of cross-references; the converse is true for finding a citation that may be buried in an annotation.

The bibliography has a handful of typographical errors (some in Web URLs) and blind index entries but otherwise is well edited.

Lane's earlier work, The Trombone in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982), was unfavorably reviewed by Mary Rasmussen (Notes 41 [1984]: 67-69), who found that it relied excessively on the work of others; the book was withdrawn from publication. While the present work falls short of giving the topic the scholarly treatment it deserves, it is a useful introduction to the literature and will be welcomed by trombonists. It belongs in most music libraries.
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Title Annotation:Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jun 1, 2000
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