To start with the obvious: journals come into being for specific reasons. And if one regards the most influential titles born during the last thirty years or so, it seems that one of the principal motivating factors has been interventionist – an attempt to kick-start a particular subdiscipline, or to promote a hitherto neglected or insufficiently examined field. Thus Music Analysis (Basil Blackwell, 1982) sought to place on a fully professional footing a subdiscipline which, whilst recognized in North America (as Music Theory), was at that time underdeveloped in the UK, while 19th Century Music (University of California Press, 1977) sought ‘to stimulate and focus work on what has for too long been American musicology’s lost century’. There is, however, little need to stimulate the study of twentieth-century music(s): if one includes (as we believe one must) popular music, jazz, film music, and twentieth-century developments in traditional musics, as well as ‘art’ or ‘classical’ music, activity in the field is burgeoning at an impressive rate. What is needed, rather, is a dedicated forum. Earlier journals specializing in twentieth-century music (such as Contact and Perspectives of New Music) tended to act as voices for particular constructions of the field. Established generalist journals have frequently found a place for twentieth-century classical music, and more recently (following the trajectory of musicology in general) have begun to widen their scope to include the discussion of popular, film, and traditional music. But as the first three meetings of the Biennial International Conference on Twentieth-Century Music have
shown (the third, held in Nottingham, UK, in June 2003, is reviewed in these pages), forums
dedicated to the whole range of twentieth-century music promote a synergy and crossfertilization
that will inevitably escape generalist journals or those confined to one corner of
the field. twentieth-century music aims to provide such a forum; and not the least of our hopes
is that, through the contiguity of divergent topics in each issue, the journal will stimulate the
creation of new perspectives by encouraging contact with areas and approaches that we
might not, as individual scholars, otherwise think to engage with.