This week’s review is of Excursions in World Music, 6th edition, 2011, published by Pearson. Bruno Nettl is the general editor and, like Worlds of Music, each chapter in this textbook is written by a different author. Unlike WoM, however, some authors write more than one chapter in this text. For example, Isabel Wong contributed the chapters on Japan and China, and Thomas Turino penned the chapters on Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. The first edition of Excursions in World Music was published by Prentice Hall in 1992 and featured most of the same authors and topics.
Today we begin the great textbook review. I decided to start with Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World’s Peoples Shorter Version, 3rd edition (2009). Jeff Todd Titon is the general editor and each chapter is written by a different author. This “review” series will address the content of the textbooks, but I also wanted to include a bit of info regarding buying the book, different formats it’s available in, etc. This is more to cover practical information for (future) teachers. I am assuming (dangerous) that we’re all past the point where this would be a textbook in a class we’re taking. Of course the info will change over time, so this is just a (admittedly rather long) snapshot of what’s available now.
The issue of textbooks is an interesting one. I know by just mentioning the term, I risk glazed eyes and a brief but effective mental shutdown before you click away, but bear with me. I’ve been preparing my online world music class for the fall and the question of textbooks always comes up. To use a textbook or not to use a textbook, that is the question…Well, actually that’s the first question. Many other questions follow: if I use a textbook, which one do I use? If I don’t use one, how do I find consistent readings? If I do use a textbook, do I use the full or shortened editions (if any are available)? Do I make supplemental CDs for the areas the textbook doesn’t cover? Do I make CDs for every student or do I put a few copies on reserve at the library? Is it ok for students to use an older edition? Are there any electronic copies available for students? I can’t fit the entire textbook into one semester, so which chapters do I pick? Do I go in order of the book or skip around? Why are questions about textbooks consuming my life?