American Musicological Society

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American Musicological Society, Bowdoin College Chapel, Bowdoin College, Brunswich, Maine, USA

The American Musicological Society is a membership-based musicological organization founded in 1934 to advance scholarly research in the various fields of music as a branch of learning and scholarship; it grew out of a small contingent of the Music Teachers National Association and, more directly, the New York Musicological Society (1930–1934). Its founders were George S. Dickinson, Carl Engel, Gustave Reese, Helen Heifron Roberts, Joseph Schillinger, Charles Seeger, Harold Spivacke, Oliver Strunk, and Joseph Yasser; its first president was Otto Kinkeldey, the first American to receive an appointment as professor of musicology (Cornell, 1930).


The society consists of over 3,300 individual members divided among fifteen regional chapters across the United States, Canada, and elsewhere, as well as 1,000 subscribing institutions. It was admitted to the American Council of Learned Societies in 1951, and participates in RISM (Répertoire International des Sources Musicales) and RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale).

The society’s annual meetings attract numerous scholars from North America and abroad, and consist of presentations, symposia, and concerts, as well as more-or-less informal meetings of numerous related musical societies. Typically, two hundred presentations and meetings are scheduled over a four-day period. Many of the society’s awards, prizes and fellowships are announced at these meetings.


Most of the society’s resources are dedicated to musicological publications. Most notable is its Journal of the American Musicological Society (JAMS), published three times a year since 1948. It is currently published by the University of California Press. The Journal was preceded by the annual Bulletin (1936–1947) and the annual Papers (1936–1941). Online versions of JAMS and its predecessors are available at JSTOR and the University of California Press.

Other studies and documents published by the society include the Complete Works of William Billings edited by Karl Kroeger et al. (4 vols, 1977–1990), the series Music of the United States of America (including In Dahomey, historic transcriptions, notations, and arrangements of American Indian music, and works by Ruth Crawford, Irving Berlin, Amy Beach, Daniel Read, Timothy Swan, Edward Harrigan & David Braham, Lou Harrison, Harry Partch, Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller, Charles Ives, Leo Ornstein, Dudley Buck, Earl "Fatha" Hines, David Moritz Michael, Charles Hommann, Virgil Thomson, Florence Price, John Philip Sousa, and George Frederick Bristow; 24 vols. to date; 1993– ), Johannes Ockeghem’s collected works edited by Dragan Plamenac and Richard Wexler (3 vols., 1966, 1992), John Dunstaple’s complete works edited by Manfred Bukofzer, published jointly with Musica Britannica (2/1970), Joseph Kerman’s The Elizabethan Madrigal (1962), E. R. Reilly’s Quantz and his Versuch (1971), E. H. Sparks’s The Music of Noel Bauldeweyn (1972), Essays in Musicology: a Tribute to Alvin Johnson edited by Lewis Lockwood and Edward Roesner (1990), and, in conjunction with the International Musicological Society, Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology edited by C. D. Adkins and A. Dickinson in succession to Helen Hewitt (1952, 1957, 1961, 1965, 1971, 1977, 1984 [first cumulative edition], 1990, 1996 [second series, second cumulative edition]). (All earlier editions of DDM are incorporated in the current on-line database.)


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