Society for Music Theory

Editor’s Message

Dear benevolent readers of MTO,

Greetings from the hyperborean wastes of Northern Florida! The onset of surprisingly frigid temperatures always inspires thoughts of warmer weather, clearer climates, and, of course, distant destinations. This engrossing edition of MTO, Rhythm: Africa and Beyond, entreats us, as Michael Tenzer’s erudite commentary suggests, to consider the rhythms of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Diaspora not exclusively as the “dominant trope for otherness,” but with the ears, eyes, and comprehension of an “autochthonous” listener. Although the analytical tools will be familiar to MTO’s music theoretical audience, the ability to explore an increasingly celebrated cultural repertoire with rigorous scholarly guidance and generous multi-media assistance will, no doubt, delight and enchant scholars and musicians for years to come. I hope you will take a moment during this much-deserved lull in activity to indulge in the digital pages of MTO volume 16.4.

Rhythm: Africa and Beyond is a special volume that comprises twelve entries. The five substantial articles represent the work of some of the foremost experts on the intersection of analysis and West African music: James Burns, David Locke, Rainer Polak, Matthew Butterfield, and Martin Scherzinger. The first four of these authors focus their attention exclusively on drumming, with Butterfield demonstrating a significant overlap in methodologies, repertoires, and influences by moving beyond Africa to explore timekeeping in jazz. Scherzinger, on the other hand, discusses temporal organization in mbira music from Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Justin London’s focused commentary draws additional connections between the articles, pointing out that they all “involve detailed accounts and analysis of performances and performance technique, both qualitative (Locke, Burns, Scherzinger) as well as quantitative (Polak, Butterfield).” The authors in this volume also employ an impressive array of multimedia to support their work. From online interactive mixers to beautiful video footage, this volume provides resources that will be useful in the classroom and beyond.

The five commentaries situate the work of this volume within a wide range of perspectives, from the purely music theoretical, to the ethnomusicological, to that of the more generalized Africanist. Although Michael Tenzer and Kofi Agawu offer a consideration that easily steps between disciplinary boundaries, the commentaries by Cynthia Tse Kimberlin, Justin London, Janet Sturman, and Michael Vercelli are equally willing to take on multifarious repertoires and analytical approaches. Most importantly, this volume provides a significant and lasting entry into a dialogue that has begun to take traction throughout the broader musicological community.

At this point, I would like to take a moment to thank Gretchen Foley, who, after two years of selfless service as Reviews Editor, stepped down from her position this fall. I know we are all grateful for her careful and substantial editing. Steven Rings has graciously agreed to take up the mantle and I know that you will welcome him into this role by sending him your books for review and/or by agreeing to complete reviews in a succinct and timely fashion! I must also express inexhaustible gratitude to the four members of our editorial board who have finished their terms this year: Matthew Butterfield, Peter Martens, Shaugn O’Donnell, and Steven Rings. It has been a true pleasure working with them and, in another banner year for submissions, I have had ample opportunity to admire their individual intellects and strong commitments to the work of music theory. Finally, I am very pleased to welcome four new members to the editorial board: Stephen Brown (Northern Arizona University), Dora Hanninen (University of Maryland), Gary S. Karpinski (University of Massachusetts Amherst), and Catherine Losada (University of Cincinnati). They are already hard at work reviewing first-rate research for next year’s volumes.

Finally, we are thankful for the indefatigable work of the many people behind the scenes at MTO: Brent Yorgason, our managing editor, and all of our editorial assistants: Sean Atkinson (UT Arlington), John Reef (Indiana University), Emily Gertsch (FSU), Sarah Sarver (Oklahoma City University), Elizabeth Clendinning (FSU), and David Easley (FSU).

As always, we would like to encourage new and creative submissions to MTO. Although we are uniquely suited for the publication of articles that incorporate recordings, videos, and other media, we also welcome submissions in any number of formats, including full-length articles, shorter commentaries, and entire special volumes.

Comments in response to this issue’s articles may be submitted to the Editor for publication in the next issue. Also, please refer to our new submission guidelines, if you are interested in submitting.

Our dynamic listings for job announcements, upcoming conferences, calls for papers, new dissertations, and new books are updated automatically as soon as we receive and approve any new listing. Readers can check the MTO listings at any time to find current information on recent announcements. We also have links for submitting announcements online.

All MTO volumes dating back to our first issue in 1993 can be accessed from the contents page at Thank you, as always, for your support of MTO - a Journal of the Society for Music Theory.