Contact’s basic intentions – as set out fully in the first issue, dated Spring 1971 – were to promote informed discussion of 20th-century music in general and the music of our own time in particular. Among the original concerns of the founders of the magazine – Chris Villars, a philosophy student, and myself, at the time a second-year music undergraduate (both at the University of Birmingham) – were that popular musics, jazz and contemporary folk music should play a part in our scheme. In the earlier days, especially, we continually sought for good writing in these fields, as well as contributions on ‘serious’ music; as Chris and I wrote in the editorial to the first issue:
“Our hope was that we would do a little towards bringing these different fields together and some of the people involved in them, in addition to ‘making contact’ with those unacquainted with, or unsympathetic towards, modern music in general - and, especially, many contemporary styles of ‘serious’ music.”
As the journal developed, we were able to find writers to cover a wide range of ‘contemporary musics’: fields as different (many would say antithetical) as the territories often labelled Experimental Music and The New Complexity, for instance; and free improvisation and electronic music of various kinds as well as more conventionally-notated composition. The original aims of such greater inclusivity as that suggested by that first editorial remained, at best, elusive; at worst, arguably merely naïve. On the other hand, our desire for independence (from such musical-establishment bastions as the music publishers, for instance, as well as aesthetically and stylistically) and our pioneering intentions (put simply, to publish writing about music that very few others were making available at the time) seem to have been appreciated. Not, it’s true, sufficiently appreciated to guarantee Contact’s existence into a third decade. But then, in the world of ‘little magazines’ from which our publication sprang, two decades is actually a pretty remarkable length of time.
Keith Potter (one of the founding Editors, and Chief Editor from 1971 to 1988)
Contact: A Journal for Contemporary Music was active from 1971–1990 and independently published by its editors. As with many independent print publications of that era, this has meant that, for readers and researchers operating in a contemporary digital landscape, the richness of its resource has been all but inaccessible. In recognition of this situation, in the years 2016–2019, the entire journal was digitised and made available over the course of a three-year research project led by Dr James Bulley, Research Associate in the Department of Music at Goldsmiths, University of London, in collaboration with former editor and co-founder of Contact, Professor Keith Potter, and with the assistance of Dr Settimio Fiorenzo Palermo and Gregory White. The project included developing best-practice techniques for the use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on each article of Contact (creating a searchable, accessible and machine-readable database), aggregation of digitised articles across contemporary research search engines, digital preservation to the highest global standards, and the creation of metadata, licensing and digital object identifiers for each issue and article within the archive.
Funding and support for the digitisation project was provided by the Graduate School, Department of Music and Library at Goldsmiths, University of London. Particular thanks are owed to Andrew Gray, Dr John Lely, Dr Tom Perchard and Rebecca Randall for their invaluable advice and support for this project.
Open Access and Preservation
The digitised archive of Contact was made freely available under principles of Open Access in October 2019 by Dr James Bulley. It is hosted on the Open Journals System (OJS), a platform managed by the Public Knowledge Project. Each article and issue within the Contact archive has both a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license applied to it. The storage system underpinning the Contact archive is part of the LOCKKS project, providing high quality, in perpetuity digital preservation for archives.
Copyright and Permissions
We are hugely grateful to the numerous authors, musicians and artists who granted permission for their work to be made available as part of this project. Every effort has been made to identify the rightful copyright holders of material reproduced here and to secure permission for its reuse. We welcome any information that would allow for corrections or further clarity in this area.
If you have any concerns about permissions and copyright, or wish to enquire about re-use, please contact the Goldsmiths Journals management at email@example.com.
James Bulley (in charge of the digitisation project for Contact, 2016-19)