Pitt professor chosen editor in chief of Grove Music Program

By Niki Walters

Pitt professor Deane Root “couldn’t believe it” when he found out he would become editor… Pitt professor Deane Root “couldn’t believe it” when he found out he would become editor in chief of one of the world’s largest collections of music reference works.

“It’s the world standard for what’s important in our field,” he said of the Oxford University Press’ Grove Music Program, which he’s now editing.

The Grove Music Program, which has both print and online versions, provides reference material about music. Based on a classic Victorian work called “The Dictionary of Music and Musicians,” the Grove Music Program contains more than 60,000 articles that range from short artist biographies to long articles on countries and famous composers.

It also prints books like “The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments” and “The New Grove Dictionary of American Music,” which it’s currently updating.

As editor in chief, Root will help decide the new subject areas that the publications should include, supervise revisions and updates and recommend scholars to serve as reviewers or editors for Grove’s projects.

Amber Fischer, senior editor of Grove Music and Oxford Music Online, said Oxford University Press selected Root for the position because the company was looking for someone who was active in the academic field.

“He sort of covers all of the different bases and people we are trying to serve — librarians, students and scholars,” Fischer said.

Fischer said Root came highly recommended by an advisory panel of music scholars representing different associations and societies in musicology and music theory. The press contacted the president of the American Musicological Society, among other organizations, for recommendations.

Root, who has experience in music editing and librarianship, has been working with Grove for years.

“I kind of grew up working with Grove, because when I was in grad school, one of my first jobs was to work with Grove,” Root said. “It was a great experience. It was like four years of education packed into two — a lot of work, a lot of learning, and it trained me in the business of music reference. Ever since that time, on several occasions when there have been major projects that Grove is doing, I have been asked to be a part of it.”

Root works largely from his office in Pittsburgh, where he hopes to continue to teach.

“I get a lot from the relationship with the students, from what they bring into the classroom,” he said. “I really enjoy the students. They have a lot of energy and creativity, and their experiences and their knowledge inform me.”

Fischer said that was one of the qualities that motivated Oxford University Press to choose Root.

“One of the main benefits of continuing to teach is remaining in touch with the scholarly world, being affiliated with a university and in touch with the students,” Fischer said.

Root’s students say he’s not the stereotypical professor.

He uses Billboard Top 100 songs, from artists like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, to teach his classes.

“Professor Root really knows what he’s talking about, and it’s obvious that he has a lot of experience,” Michael Pollock, a Pitt senior majoring in business and music, said.

Root said he prefers to listen to opera and orchestral music, as well as some country music when he is driving, but that there is no music in particular that he does not like.

“There’s nothing that I can’t stand. I’m fascinated by all kinds of music,” Root said. “In terms of different styles and different genres, I like to hear it all.”

He also said that he remembers being drawn to music from a very early age and became more so in later years.

“Making music around the piano at home and that kind of stuff, I’ve done a lot of that in my lifetime,” Root said.