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Editor's Message

[1] Farewell Plaintext. When MTO began in 1993, the World-Wide Web was hardly a world-wide phenomenon. The experimental volume 0 and much of volume 1 were published only in plain-text format, making it necessary to download and view musical examples and MIDI files separately. MTO was an early participant in the web--the first HTML files appear already toward the end of volume 1 in 1995. We have published parallel plain-text and HTML versions of the journal ever since.  The Web has, of course, grown substantially since that time, and the proportion of MTO readership with ready access to the Web has grown proportionately. As articles have increasingly made use of media, including digital audio and Shockwave animation, that must be delivered via the Web, the plain-text version has grown less adequate at representing the author's intent. At the same time, the number of readers accessing the plain-text version has declined steadily, so the cost-benefit ratio for publishing parallel versions has increased dramatically. Based on a recommendation of the Publications Committee, the Society for Music Theory Executive Board has therefore agreed to cease publication of the ASCII version of MTO, effective at the end of the current volume. This issue, therefore, is the last for which the plain-text version will be available. We bid it a fond farewell.

[2] In This Issue. In light of this, it is fitting that the article found in the present issue works perfectly well in ASCII.  Jeffrey Perry's article, "Music, Evolution, and the Ladder of Progress," contains no audio and no musical examples or other graphics. Drawing on ideas from evolutionary theory and literature, Perry asserts that many composers construct "compositional genealogies" to justify their work and to place themselves on the top rung of some "Ladder of Progress." While Perry's focus is on composers from the German/Austrian and French traditions, he discusses several "maverick" composers of the 20th-century as well. We trust that the issues Perry raises and the examples he includes will yield a lively discussion on mto-talk.  Also in this issue, David Carson Berry takes us into the realm of popular song with a review of a recently published book on the music of Irving Berlin.

[3] Submission Solicitation. It is timely to remind our readers about the opportunities MTO provides for authors. While we welcome contributions in any format on any subject of interest to our readers, MTO welcomes submissions on topics that are less-often represented in leading print journals in music theory, including

  • computer-based analysis
  • cultural theory
  • ethnomusicology 
  • film music
  • gender studies
  • music perception and cognition
  • music technology
  • music theory pedagogy
  • non-Western music
  • popular music

In addition, because MTO is web-based, items can easily and inexpensively incorporate various types media including the following:

  • Sound files (such as MIDI files of musical examples, digitized field recordings or experimental stimuli)
  • Color graphics (such as annotated analytic diagrams or musical examples, or new forms of musical visualization)
  • Animation (Quicktime or Director movies illustrating musical processes, perhaps linked to audio)
  • Video (clips of musical performances or illustrations of teaching techniques)
  • Non-linear presentation (articles with variable paths)
  • Interactive elements
  • Use of live hyperlinks to reference online resources

Potential contributors are invited to read our Guidelines for Contributors or contact me for more information.

[4] Entering New Domains. During the past year the Society for Music Theory has registered two Internet domain names. Readers may now locate MTO at either or MTO will continue to be accessible at for the foreseeable future, however.

[5] Personnel Changes.  With this issue Henry Klumpenhouwer ends his term on the Editorial Board, and Robert Gjerdingen retires as Reviews Editor. I thank them both for their outstanding service.  We are pleased to add John Snyder to the Editorial Board, and we welcome Jack Boss as the new Reviews Editor.  Anyone interested in writing a review for MTO may contact Prof. Boss at  

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Eric J. Isaacson, General Editor
Music Theory Online
School of Music
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405
voice: (812) 855-0296 (with voice mail)
fax: (812) 855-4936

Updated 03 July 2013
Brent Yorgason