Breves and Semibreves

Chrestologia To Cease Publication:
The Whys and Wherefores

The following article by ASW director David H. Green appeared in the October, 1998, final issue of our customer newsmagazine Chrestologia. It is presented here for those visitors to our web site who have inquired as to why we are no longer able to produce this extremely popular publication.

For the past twenty-three years, the principal means of communication between Antique Sound Workshop and our several thousand customers across the United States and around the world has been our newsmagazine Chrestologia and its predecessor The Antique Sound Workshop Customer Newsletter. For the benefit of our newer customers, the name of our newsmagazine, which means "friendly words of advice" in Greek, was selected in 1986 from suggestions submitted by our customers in a "Name the Publication" contest, when we found that our informal newsletter, originally just a few pages run off on a hand-crank mimeo machine, had in fact grown to over thirty pages per issue and could no longer be considered a newsletter as such.

It is therefore with very mixed feelings of both regret and relief that I announce to our readers that this issue of Chrestologia will be the final one, at least for the foreseeable future. The reasons for this cessation of publication are several and interrelated. The short answer is, quite simply, that I no longer have the time to write, layout, and prepare each issue for mailing. If truth be told, it has always been a bit of a scramble to get each issue written and out the door to the printer on some sort of regular schedule. During the past two years, however, it has become increasingly more difficult for me to find the time to write and produce each issue.

In retrospect, two events which occurred in the summer of 1996 have conspired together to make the continued publication of our newsmagazine more difficult, more time-consuming, more expensive, and at the same time less necessary. The first of these events was the enactment of new rules, regulations, and rates by the United States Postal Service which became effective July 1st, 1996. These changes have made it much more difficult and laborious to maintain our mailing lists, label, sort, bundle and submit to the post office each issue, and far more expensive to mail each issue of Chrestologia.

The new postal regulations and rates favor large volume bulk mailers who send out hundreds of thousands of catalogues and brochures on a daily basis, but they work against small volume mailers like ourselves. Our publication, with a circulation of about 4,500, has in recent years been at a very awkward stage of growth. It is too large to be comfortably processed for mailing by hand on our dining room table, as I have been doing for years, and yet it is too small to be farmed out to a professional mailing house and still be cost-effective. In recent years, it has taken several days to address, bundle, and label each issue as required by the postal service in order to qualify for third class mailing rates. That is valuable time that could not be devoted to working on instruments and talking to or corresponding with customers, which is really what we should be doing. I strongly feel that our primary obligation is to those customers who purchase instruments from us; my desire to provide a continuing source of information and opinion to the early music world at large must of necessity take a secondary place.

The other event occurring two years ago, of course, was the opening of our Internet World Wide Web site on August 1st, 1996. We have experienced an enormous increase in volume of sales as a result of our presence in cyberspace; this has caused us to make major changes in how we conduct our business. It has also become very apparent to us that much of the function of Chrestologia has in fact been usurped by our WWW site during the past two years. For example, the list of used and sale instruments in "Carlton's Clearance Corner" as it has appeared in our newsmagazine for many years has always been out of date long before it reached our customers, since in the interim between writing and mailing some items would invariably have been sold and other new ones would have been added. The version of "Carlton's Clearance Corner" which appears on our web site is updated almost daily and provides our customers with much more current information than the published version ever could. The fact is quite simply that the Internet has become a much more timely, worthwhile, and cost-effective way for us to keep in contact with our many customers.

To at least some degree, I have been able to accomplish what I had wanted to accomplish with Chrestologia. I hope that long-time readers will agree that there has been a fairly consistent (some might even say persistent) editorial point of view over the years. I have tried to make a viable case for the removal of early music from a ghetto of its own making and the integration of early music into the mainstream of amateur and professional music performance and music education. I hope I have also made a convincing argument that professional early music performers, teachers, and instrument makers must be held accountable to the same high standards that the musical world expects of their modern instrument colleagues.

I have always been very much aware that, at least to some extent, the editorial and promotional aspects of Chrestologia have on occasion been at cross-purposes with one another. I have not infrequently taken editorial positions on certain issues that I knew full well would not be popular with some of our readers. Undoubtedly my forthright and honest opinions on some issues may well have cost us some sales, particularly among those individuals who don't care to have their preconceived notions challenged. On the other hand, I have never found much integrity or merit in telling people only what they want to hear, even if it would have been in my own best financial interests to have done so. I have simply stated what I have found to be true and what I strongly believe to be right and have allowed the chips to fall where they may. For that I make no apologies.

Do I have any regrets about what I have accomplished during the past twenty-three years of publication? Of course I do. I have always realized that Chrestologia was very much a work in progress. Each issue was thrown together in just a few days, and I never seemed to have enough time to rewrite and polish each issue as I would have liked to have done. I apologize for the occasional typos and slips of the pen, not to mention lapses in my increasingly unreliable memory, that have from time to time appeared in these pages. They grate on my sensibilities perhaps even more than on those of our readers.

I also regret greatly having to leave a good deal of unfinished business and loose ends behind. For example, my large editorial article on temperament and intonation, intended as a companion piece to the earlier one on pitch and tuning, is almost finished but will have to await publication in some other forum. There are many other issues in early music that still need to be addressed, and probably a great many more that I haven't even thought of yet. Undoubtedly I will occasionally feel compelled at various points in the future to rant and rave about some topic or other. Time permitting, my consideration of those issues will find a new editorial home on our Internet web site.

On this occasion of our last issue, I would be greatly remiss if I did not express my sincerest thanks to several individuals without whose aid and assistance the production of Chrestologia would have been considerably more difficult. Paul Hanrahan, the bulk mail supervisor at our former post office in Brookline, and Kevin Lane, who has the same position at the Plymouth post office, were both extremely patient, professional, and helpful in guiding me through the bewildering maze of postal rules and regulations governing third class mailings and getting each issue processed and out quickly. Art Berardino at State-Line Graphics, the firm which has printed Chrestologia for the past eight years, has been unfailingly friendly and helpful in getting each issue printed, assembled, and out the door promptly in spite of my sending almost every issue to him well behind our projected production schedule. Thanks a lot, guys, I couldn't have done it at all without your help!

And now it is time, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Antique Sound Workshop, to put our customer newsmagazine Chrestologia to bed for one last time. My sincere and humble thanks to all of our faithful customers and readers for supporting me in this long-term endeavor. Your kind words of enthusiasm and encouragement have meant a great deal to me. I'll look forward to seeing all of you in cyberspace. DHG

Copyright, Antique Sound Workshop, Ltd., 1998. All rights reserved.

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