Vol. 101, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning / Swedish Journal of Music Research (2019)


A century ago, editor Tobias Norlind set out to compose an introduction to the very first volume of Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, a music journal issued by the newly founded Swedish Society for Musicology. After a somewhat lofty discourse on the merits and limitations of historical scholarship, where Norlind drew on the insights of Goethe and Robert Schumann, he stipulated that the new journal is indeed ’intended for the results of research, for the yellowed pages, that speak of the past and the bygone days and let us look into the musical life of ancient times’. Norlind thus gave music history a privileged position, but he immediately went on to say that, in addition, ’we wish that the aesthetic points of view, those that provide our time with thoughts and ideas, will also be satisfied’.[1] After this addendum, Norlind envisaged yet another, future kind of contribution to the journal, where the “researcher and man of fantasy” will come together.

Fifty years later, in an introductory article to the same journal’s 1969 jubilee issue, editor Ingmar Bengtsson looked back on half a century when music history had dominated the pages of the journal, but when articles on other subjects, such as music theory, organology, and contemporary music, had also appeared. Looking ahead, Bengtsson invited articles representing new trends, such as music psychology, music sociology, ’global’ perspectives, the study of acculturation in the era of the mass media, and the use of quantitative and experimental, scientific methods.

Today, when another fifty years have passed since the first issue of Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, there is reason to reflect on a century when music research has grown and formed a large number of branches, internationally and in Sweden. In the more limited context of our journal, music history has been and remained a central subject, but some of the expansion that Norlind and Bengtsson envisaged has certainly come to pass.

And the growth continues. Following a thematic issue on artistic research in music in 2013, and in connection with a merger in 2014, when Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning and its younger sister STM–Online merged into Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning / Swedish journal of music research (STM–SJM), the journal was given the specific task to widen its scope to include not only musicology but also other kinds of music research. The fact that musicology still dominates should not come as a surprise, given the journal’s history, but parts of the present issue confirm that diversification is underway. Also, work proceeds on a new digital platform, which will allow – but in no way require – publishing formats that go beyond the traditional text-based journal article.

In the present, centenary issue, a number of articles offer new insight into the history, the present, and maybe even the future of music research in Sweden.

In his comprehensive introductory article, Håkan Lundström (Lund University) delineates the history of ’research in music’ in Sweden with regard to its roots, its geographical spread, its increasing diversification, and its present-day challenges and opportunities. Several early champions of musicology then reappear in an article by Thomas Holme (Aarhus University), where the international aspirations of early Nordic musicologists are discussed on the basis of the correspondence of the renowned Danish scholar Knud Jeppesen (1892–1974).

A longitudinal scrutiny of historical musicology is offered by Erik Wallrup (Södertörn University) in his critical and finally forward-looking examination of Swedish research on music from the time of the reign of King Gustav III (1771–92). A musicologist who briefly appears in Wallrup’s study, Gerd Schönfelder (1936–2000), forms the centre of attention in the next article. Here, Petra Garberding (Södertörn University), Ursula Geisler (Linnæus University), and Henrik Rosengren (Lund University) undertake the very first scholarly investigation of Schönfelder’s role as an undercover agent for the East German security service Stasi in Swedish musical life in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s. 

The following two articles turn to the history of music theory. Thomas Jul Kirkegaard-Larsen (Aarhus University) examines the history of function theory in Sweden, identifying significant transitions from a dualistic to a monistic theory and, finally, to a blend of function theory with aspects of Schenkerian theory and Jörgen Jersild’s position theory. Hugo Riemann’s function theory was introduced to Swedish readers by Sven E. Svensson (1899–1960), a remarkable figure in the history of Swedish music research. Two of Svensson’s own speculative theories – ’tension of fifths’ and ’intervallic pulse’ – are described and critically examined by Mattias Lundberg (Uppsala University), who draws upon material from Svensson’s archive in the Uppsala University Library.

In the introductory article, Håkan Lundström points to music production as an emerging field that relates to many branches of music research and thus holds great potential for interdisciplinary study. This emergence, and the future challenges of education and research in music production, is further explored in an article by Jan-Olof Gullö and David Thyrén (both of The Royal College of Music, Stockholm). Against the background of rapid change in the consumption, production, and distribution of music, they discuss how concepts such as creativity, motivation, and entrepreneurship may be (re)conceptualised in research and higher music education in the area of music production. 

Another perspective on higher music education is given by Susanne Rosenberg (The Royal College of Music, Stockholm), who discusses the challenges of teaching traditional, folk, and world music in such contexts. She presents a case study conducted at the Folk Music Department of The Royal College of Music, Stockholm, in which stability and variation in folk singers’ interpretations of Swedish folk chorales were studied in relation to different learning methods such as oral transmission from recordings, learning in live situations, and learning from musical notation.

The growth and ramification of music research in Sweden of the past century is indisputable, and so is the fact that much of the research conducted in Sweden is international in several respects. As shown by the present issue of our journal, it also goes without saying that colleagues in other countries make important contributions within the ’Swedish’ context. Indeed, in the debate section, which we devote to discussions on the future of Swedish music research, Lars Berglund (Uppsala University) argues that the very wording ‘Swedish music research’ belongs ‘in the graveyard of historical concepts’. This opinion is in turn challenged and qualified in an answer by Alf Björnberg (University of Gothenburg). In a third, separate article, Mats Arvidson (Lund University) argues that musicology has much to gain from embracing intermediality, and also suggests how this could be achieved in research and education.

In addition to the research and debate articles, we are glad to present reviews of twenty-five music books, grouped under thematic headings. Also do not miss Eva Öhrström’s obituary of the composer and researcher Gunnar Valkare, or Gunnar Ternhag’s of Martin Tegen, a legendary scholar who was born in the same year as our journal.

As editors we want to express our gratitude to all who have contributed to this volume. We especially thank Håkan Lundström, who gladly took on and skilfully performed the laborious task of writing a survey of a century of music research in Sweden. We also want to emphasise the importance of all non-Swedish colleagues who have contributed to this and to earlier issues by submitting articles, conducting peer review, and writing reviews of music literature. As a journal issued by a national society, we are, and will always be, in constant need of your perspectives.

Tobias Lund
Karin Johansson
Sven Bjerstedt

[1] ’Vår tidskrift är avsedd för forskarresultaten, för de gulnade bladen, som tala om det förflutna och förgångna och låta oss blicka in i forna tiders musikliv. Men därjämte önska vi de estetiska synpunkterna tillgodosedda, som ge vår egen tid tankar och idéer.’ (Tobias Norlind, 1919. En inledning. Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, 1, p. 3.)

101, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning / Swedish Journal of Music Research