Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Friday, 30 September 2011

Know your Scottish musical history

On this day ... 1st October, 1857, Singer-songwriter and collector Marjory Kennedy-Fraser was born.  Her Hebridean song-settings are disdained by many 'traditional' singers nowadays, but they were hugely popular in their time, and are still very atmospheric early-20th century song settings.  Just not direct transcriptions of simple Gaelic melodies!

  • Marjory Kennedy-Fraser's publications in the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • Marjory's books (as opposed to music) in the Whittaker Library
  • Land of Heart's Desire - an album by RSAMD alumna Lisa Milne - Whittaker Library CD / link
On a different tack, it's less commonly known that on 29th September 1817, another songwriter and collector, Highlander Alexander Campbell wrote to Walter Scott, thanking him for his financial assistance and for employing him as music teacher to Scott's daughters.

Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra autumn programme

TSYJO Concerts - October and December

(Most concerts start 7.30pm but look out for December's new afternoon jazz concerts)

Tickets; £8 / £5 / free for <16yrs


  • Fri 21st October, 2011 Cabaret Bar, 60 Pleasance,Edinburgh EH8 9TJ - 7.30pm Box Office: 0131 650 4673
  • Sat 22nd October, 2011 Concert: Linlithgow Arts Guild, LInlithgow Primary School - 7.30pm Box Office: 01506 282720
  • Sun 23rd October, 2011 Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, 100 Renfrew St, Glasgow - 7.30pm Box Office: 0141 332 5057

  • Fri 9th December Evening at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow - 7.30pm Box Office: 0141 332 5057
  • Sat 10th December Afternoon Jazz at The Tolbooth, Jail Wynd, Stirling - 2pm Box Office: 01786 2740
  • Sun 11th December Afternoon Jazz at the Cabaret Bar, 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh - 2pm Box Office: 0131 650 4673
Do come along to one of these concerts and support these brilliant young jazz musicians.

NB: Also do not miss these concerts with TOMMY SMITH and KARMA *****

We are celebrating ... 30 days

The 30 days is rolling to a close.  But the big day is next Monday, 3rd October, and there's always the WhittakerLive blogpage to look back at.  See what Steve Phillips and his team have been up to in September - here!

Call for conference papers

Call for papers: Hearing Landscape Critically: Sense, Text, Ideology

Music Faculty, University of Oxford, 18-19 May 2012.

Papers related to this agenda – including but not limited to the topics listed below – are welcome in the formats stipulated at the bottom of this CFP.

  • SITES OF POWER - occupation, reservation, institution, restitution, academy, capital, knowledge, ideology;
  • QUESTIONS OF STRUCTURE - smooth, striated, complex, chaotic, fixed, dense, in flux;
  • PERFORMING LANDSCAPE - theatre, narration, embodiment, language, song, immersion, everyday;
  • MOBILITIES - tourism, commuting, returning, tracing, dwelling and/as wandering, stasis and acceleration;
  • POLITICAL CONCERNS - subordination, exploitation, destruction, survival;
  • PHILOSOPHICAL CONCERNS - human, non-human, transcendental, nature, culture, ontology, epistemology, phenomenology.
All proposals should be emailed to (size limit = 5MB) by 31 December 2011. Please include name, affiliation (if applicable), postal address, email address and AV requirements on a separate cover sheet.

  • Individual papers (20 minutes) - abstract of no more than 300 words.
  • Panel sessions - describe individual papers and overarching theme in no more than 500 words.
  • Alternative formats – describe your proposal (i.e. performance, round table, film discussion, or whatever it may be) in no more than 500 words.

Special Collections at Stirling University include film materials

Whittaker's nocturnal reading unearthed useful information about the Special Collections at Stirling University:-
Film and Media Studies has long been one of the strengths of the University of Stirling, so it is not surprising that the Library’s collections reflect this. We are fortunate to hold the papers of three filmmakers: Lindsay Anderson, one of the most important film directors of the 20th century; John Grierson, who founded the Documentary Film Movement; and the animator and experimental filmmaker, Norman McLaren.

The Lindsay Anderson collection includes material relating to all of Anderson’s films, including If.... , This Sporting Life , O Lucky Man! and Britannia Hospital, as well as 40 theatre productions directed by Anderson. A large amount of personal material collected and kept by Anderson is also in the collection.

The John Grierson Archive provides a comprehensive account of the career of one of the key figures in the history of documentary filmmaking. The archive contains a wealth of material, including papers relating to the various organisations for which Grierson worked ‐ the Empire Marketing Board, the GPO Film Unit, the Imperial Relations Trust, the National Film Board of Canada, Group 3 Film Company, UNESCO,the Association Internationale des Documentaristes; Films of Scotland Committee and Scottish Television.

Norman McLaren was born in Stirling in April 1914. It was while a student at Glasgow School of Art that he started making short experimental films. His work came to the attention of John Grierson, who offered him a job with the GPO Film Unit. When Grierson moved to Canada in 1939 to set up their National Film Board, he invited McLaren to join him. In Canada Grierson gave McLaren the freedom to experiment.

McLaren's genius was recognised worldwide with a string of awards for his work,including an Oscar in 1953 for his short film Neighbours. Our collection includes material relating to McLaren’s films, as well as his correspondence, press cuttings and photographs.

Echoes from the Vault: special collections at St Andrews University

Whittaker's informants at the Library and Information History Group advise that Echoes from the Vault is a new blog by the Rare Books Collections of Special Collections at the University of St. Andrews.

Their blog explores discoveries made through current retro‐cataloguing efforts, announces any news or events from the Special Collections and will highlight some of their treasures:

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Fergie Macdonald autobiography

  • Fergie: Fergie Macdonald with Allan Henderson, Memoirs of a Musical Legend.  Foreword by Phil Cunningham.

Just got a copy of Fergie's autobiography for the Whittaker Library.  See what else we've got by/about him, here -  including a student dissertation.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

Special event 14 October 2011: RE:Mind : Sound Affects Workshop - might also be interesting to people working with community music or community therapies generally.

Friday 14 October 2011 @ 11:00am
FREE (ticketed)
Venue: CCA Clubroom, Glasgow
Ages: 16 and over

Part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

Call the CCA Box Office on 0141 352 4900

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Scottish Poetry Library : Poetry Issues

Anyone interested in Scottish poetry will probably want to bookmark this one -
Poetry Issues 27

(In fact, why not save it to your Diigo or Delicious account, then you'll have access to it anywhere?)

National Poetry Day is the 6th October.  Spread the word amongst any teacher friends.  Here's a link about NPD.

Digital Theatre Plus - a great new database subscription

Welcome to Digital Theatre Plus - The home of unique films of leading British theatre productions for schools, colleges and universities.

We make the best of British theatre accessible to every learner. We use the latest technologies to inspire and engage viewers of all ages and abilities with a front-row seat experience.

Our exclusive behind-the-scenes documentaries and written teaching and learning resources aid deeper understanding of productions and texts.

Use our service to enrich students' cultural experience and support learning in English, Drama and Theatre Studies.

If you're a student or staff member at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, this database is for you. Speak to Drama Librarian Alan Jones for more information.

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Archives

Yes, we have rather interesting archives!  You can now see what we've got, via the Archives Hub - here.
  • Rita Dow
  • Jimmy Logan
  • Ernest Bullock
  • Robert Minter

Tommy Smith's 2011 Karma Tour

Find out more about our Jazz degree leader's current Karma Tour, here.
Tommy Smith has been away from the club circuit for many years building up the amazing jazz scene in Scotland. He is the driving force behind the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, his youth orchestra and the new jazz course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He has only played outside his homeland with the European super-group of Arild Anderson and Paolo Vinaccia with whom he has travelled world-wide.

He has now put together a suite of music and a band comprising the cream of Scottish musicians which has been described as the toughest and most creative of his career. Best of all he has arranged a UK tour for them.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Domino's Pizza and QR codes

Whittaker was going to tell you about Domino's Pizza QR codes - but someone else has already blogged about them!  Read it here (the blog is called Digital Examples).

What are QR codes?  They're a bit like a square version of a barcode.  Scan them with your smartphone (android, iPhone, whatever) and they give you more information.

Domino's QR codes take you to a weblink so you can order pizza.

Whittaker can't afford to offer each new student a pizza, but we can still use QR codes to pass on useful info.  So watch this space - you never know when a QR code might pop up! And (shhh!) not necessarily inside the library, either.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Cleric saved strathspeys as well as souls - Patrick Mcdonald

Still famous today!

Patrick Mcdonald died 25 September 1824. Ages ago, but think on this - his Highland Vocal Airs, first published in 1784, is still considered an important collection of Highland fiddle tunes, two and a quarter centuries later.

In actual fact, much of Patrick’s collection came from his brother Joseph’s manuscript of tunes left behind in Scotland when he emigrated. Joseph died young, but Patrick lived to a ripe old age.

The Mcdonald brothers’ collection was reissued in a new edition by Taigh na Teud in 2000. You can find it in the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow.
Yes, posted 2 hours early ... "Whittaker" is extraordinarily enthusiastic about "his" Victorian Scottish song collectors!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Keeping in touch with home

Things have never been so easy - Phone, text, Facebook, Twitter, email, Skype ... no excuses for not keeping family and friends up to date with your exciting new life.

Changed days - the Whittaker Library is full of published letters and correspondence by famous composers and playwrights.  (Think about it - how many of your communications will survive, 100 years on?)

Looking for those published letters, I experimented with ways of searching the library catalogue.  Just typing in Letters is one way, of course.

Here are some more search tips:-
  • The catalogue searches for singular and plural versions of a word stem, so you don't have to!
  • Look at the Refine Your Search sidebar to narrow down by author, collection (eg drama or music book), subject etc.
  • The Advanced Search offers a search box where you type alternatives - so you'll retrieve at least one of the words specified, eg Letters or Correspondence
  • Bypass the Advanced Search boxes by using this format: (Letters OR Correspondence)
By the way, if old postcards appeal to you, there are plenty in the SCRAN online collection, available to staff and students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as institutional members.

Our own composer Oliver Searle bought an old postcard at the Barras, which inspired his piece 23.VII.32 (2008) for the Bearsden Choir.  More info from the Scottish Music Centre website. 

Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme April 2012 - March 2013

Aldeburgh Music, founded by Benjamin Britten at Snape Maltings in Suffolk

Britten–Pears Young Artist Programme
Emerging professionals
Bridges the gap between music college and a successful career. The BPP is the UK’s largest provider of development and performance opportunities for emerging professionals. Auditions are held internationally each year, with around 300 of the world’s finest young artists selected to take part. Alumni include Thomas Adès, Simon Keenlyside, Dame Felicity Lott and many others.

Scotland and Suffolk are a few hundred miles apart. But, like the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the Britten-Pears young artist programme aspires to excellence - a fabulous 'next step' that could really set you on the road to stardom. 

East Anglia is an understated region.  Famed for sea, sky and wildlife, it's also a kick in the pants off London and all the artistic attractions there.

Find out more here:

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

On this day: Walter Scott died 21st September 1832

On this day ...

Sir Walter Scott died in Abbotsford on 21st September, 1832.  No writer before or since has had so much influence on a nation's cultural identity.

Thoroughly recommended - a new book by Stuart Kelly, Scott-Land: the man who invented a nation.  Yes, we have it at the Whittaker Library, here in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  Check here.

(Details on Amazon if you'd like to buy a copy yourself or for someone else!)

But there's lots more you can get your hands on in the Whittaker Library, if you know where to look:-

  • General catalogue search on Walter Scott
  • Try a JSTOR search for books and articles.  HINT: if you do an Advanced Search, you can limit results to Music items (we subscribe to full-text music articles).  Alternatively, try a general search which will yield results in journals of all disciplines, but not necessarily full-text articles.
  • Try a RILM search to get information about books, articles, dissertations and recordings about/of Walter Scott's work.
  • Images of Sir Walter Scott and his beloved Abbotsford in the Scottish Borders?  Try the SCRAN database.
All these databases are available to staff and students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, via our institutional subscriptions.  (If you're off-site, you'll need to login using your Royal Conservatoire login, after selecting our institution from a list of colleges and universities.)

Further interesting free websites include:-

The Bridgeman Buzz - lovely images

Designers!  Take a look at this ...

Have you come across the Bridgeman Art Library?  You can sign up to receive an email newsletter called The Bridgeman Buzz.  Loads of lovely images to inspire creative types!

Bridgeman Art Library

17 - 19 Garway Road
W2 4PH
United Kingdom

+44 (0)20 7727 4065

This week, it's The Fashion Issue:
  • Check out the latest collections, hottest artists and timeless classics.
  • We also bring you style tips from the archive and galleries of images to inspire, whatever the mood strikes.
In this issue

» Style advice from the archives
» Daisy de Villeneuve
» Bridgeman Artists' Copyright Service
» Collection highlights

A film about PhD students!

An intriguing article in the THE (Times Higher Education magazine) this week finds out how a popular cartoon about the secret life of research students has been turned into a film by its author.  But is it true to life?!  Read on:-
15 September 2011

When Jorge Cham adapted his hugely popular PhD cartoon for film, he eschewed animation and hired real Caltech students and academics for his comically true-to-life doctoral tales. Paul Jump reports.

Absent-minded academics and scientists who are a few base pairs short of a double helix are as much a cinema staple as maverick cops and superheroes with a troubled past. For all the recent rise in 3D film, Jorge Cham believes that researchers are rarely portrayed in ways that transcend that stereotypical dimension.  Read the whole article online here.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Goethe Institute opens doors to Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Staff and students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland have access to the Goethe Institute Library.  The annual membership fee paid by the Whittaker Library entitles our readers to a number of benefits:-
  • Borrowing rights for Royal Conservatoire staff and students
  • German literature, classic and modern
  • DVDs - feature films and documentaries
  • Resources for language learners, including textbooks and grammar guides
  • Information on various aspects of German culture
  • Travel guides
  • Current German newspapers and magazines
  • Information on working and studying in Germany
A tour of the library can be arranged - or a talk to groups of staff/ students - so please contact the Library Staff at the Whittaker Library if you'd like any arrangements to be made.

Benjamin Zephaniah sees himself as a bard

So you thought bards were old hat? Think again!

Benjamin Zephaniah talks to the THE (Times Higher Education) magazine about his new Brunel appointment to lecture in Creative Writing.  Read it here and find out why he sees himself as a latter-day bard.

And here's another interview from the Guardian newspaper, done in 2009.

Benjamin Zephaniah being interviewed for Guardian

EFDSS Library and Archive (a link from my Diigo account)

The English Folk Dance and Song Society has a Library and Archive - the Vaughan Williams Library.  Find out more here.

Ray Fisher - EDS magazine Spring 2009 featured Ray

More about Ray! 

Readers may be interested to learn that the English Dance and Song magazine for Spring 2009 had some coverage of Ray Fisher. 

Relevant articles will be added to the Whittaker Library's Scottish Ephemera file.

English Dance and Song magazine is the official journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS).

Zetoc alerts

Time for a quick reminder!  If you'd like regular updates on new scholarly articles in your area of expertise, then Zetoc is what you need.  Sign up, specify what you want, and you'll be emailed whenever anything interesting comes up.

Sounds simple?  It is!  Click here.

Applicants sought for the 6th International Competition for Piano 4 Hands Valberg, France

"Whittaker" has just heard about a piano competition ...

6th International Competition
for Piano 4 Hands
Valberg, France, 1-4 December 2011

Two categories : General competition with several levels from Preliminary to Excellence, and an International competition.
Prizes for the International section:

  • 1st Prize : Diploma and 5.000,00 Euros
  • 2nd Prize : Diploma and 2.500,00 Euros
  • 3rd Prize : Diploma and 1.500,00 Euros
Application form

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Greentrax: 25th Anniversary

Anniversary Concert

Greentrax Recordings will celebrate its 25th Anniversary with a Showcase Concert, Saturday 15th October 2011, 7.30pm at The Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh.

Not only a concert, but also a CD, which has just arrived in the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland!
Music and Song from Scotland: the Greentrax 25th Anniversary Collection (2 CD set)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Halle Berry in Glasgow

Halle Berry on Wikipedia
 Glasgow's emergence as a film location gets a big boost with the news that Halle Berry will be filming here soon.  As tweeted by Phil Miller of The Herald today,
So Cloud Atlas starts filming in Glasgow this week, Halle Berry will be in town, filming scenes in 'San Fransisco' in the 1970s.

Graduate-Trainee vacancy at Britten-Pears Foundation, Aldeburgh

Heritage Lottery Fund Graduate Trainee

£16,861 for 10 months full-time, fixed term contract(£20,234 pro rata, with possibility of extension.

Interested in a career in music archives? Then read on:-

The Britten–Pears Foundation, based in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, is a Designated collection holding the archives of composer Benjamin Britten. Thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we have initiated an exciting project based around Britten’s centenary celebrations in 2013.

The role of this HLF Graduate Trainee post is to support the front line work of the current archive/library staff and to assist in preparing the collections for a major move. The post will include overseeing our Reading Room and dealing with enquiries from researchers, as well as project work in preservation, digitisation and description of our collections.

This fixed term post would ideally suit a graduate wishing to gain work experience before applying for a postgraduate qualification in either Archives and Records Management or Library and Information Management. Training from our qualified Archivists and Librarian in the use of CALM, the archive management system, and in the many aspects of work in a specialist music archive and research library will be provided. The successful applicant will be motivated and happy to work on their own initiative, confident in dealing with the public, have strong communication and time management skills and be committed to archives or librarianship as a career. An interest in twentieth-century music would also be an advantage.

  • For more information about the Britten-Pears Foundation and to download an application form please visit our website .

  • For an informal chat about the post please contact librarian Nicholas Clark or archivist Judith Ratcliffe on 01728 451700, or email or

The closing date for applications is Fri 30 Sep 2011
Interviews will be held week commencing 10 Oct 2011

Nicholas Clark
Britten–Pears Foundation

Monday, 12 September 2011

On this day, 12th September

On this day ... 12th September, 1792

William Tytler (image from ElectricScotland)
William Tytler died at the grand old age of 81.  So what?, you might say. But Scottish musical history owes much to Tytler.

Tytler (1711-92) was an Edinburgh lawyer and historian. A founder member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1780, his A Dissertation on the Scottish Musick was an influential commentary on the history of Scottish music for antiquarians and collectors of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

It was first published in Hugo Arnot’s The History of Edinburgh, attributed to ‘a learned and ingenious friend’, in 1779 (and again in 1788).  It also appeared under Tytler's name in 1783 and 1790, and was later read at a meeting, and subsequently published in 1792, in the first Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Tytler wanted to track down the origins of the earliest melodies, ‘and to trace the history of our music down to modern times.’ His comments were influential upon the song collection compilers who followed him - Johnson, Burns and Ritson. Tytler’s pronouncement about the correct kind of accompaniment for Scottish song became almost a ‘gold standard’ for contemporary antiquarian publishers of song collections.
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - for books on Scottish music history in the Whittaker Library, click here.
  • Check COPAC (UK national and university libraries) to find your nearest copy of a Tytler source.
  • We have a photocopy of Tytler's dissertation in our own library - here.  (We downloaded it from

Friday, 9 September 2011

Musicologist Kenneth Elliott dies

One of Glasgow's greatest musicologists, Dr Kenneth J. Elliott, died in Gartnaval Hospital around 8 this morning, Friday 9th September 2011. 

His demise will be sadly mourned by his many friends and former colleagues from the University of Glasgow Music Department, where Kenneth was an Honorary Senior Research Fellow.

Kenneth, who was born in Dundee in 1929, was deeply involved in researching the history of Scottish music, and was latterly the General Editor of Musica Scotica, which publishes and organises events to promote the study and performance of early Scottish music.

The funeral will take place in St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral (Great Western Road, Glasgow) on Monday, 19 September. 
  • Some of Kenneth Elliott's publications, listed in the Whittaker Library catalogue at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
  • Read Lesley Duncan's interview with Kenneth, in The Herald, 25th May 1996, here.
  • University of Glasgow lecturer David McGuinness blogged about the funeral on his Concerto Caledonia blog.  David's personal memories of a great man.

Glasgow Uni gets AHRC grant for early Scottish Cinema project

In the THE this week:

John Caughie of the University of Glasgow, awarded £583,980 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, for project researching early cinema in Scotland, 1896-1927. 

The project is concerned with the early development of cinema in Scotland. The period in question runs from the first screenings of the ‘Cinematographe’ at the Empire Palace Theatre in Edinburgh and the Skating Palace in Glasgow in April and May 1896 to the first post synchronised sound film made in Scotland, Sunny Days, a short promotional film made for the ‘Necessitous Children's Holiday Camp Fund’ in Glasgow in 1931.

The focus will fall mainly on the period of the ‘silent cinema’ from 1896 to 1927.

It should be the most exhaustive piece of research carried out into early Scottish cinema, and is an ambitious collaboration involving:-
  • University of Glasgow,
  • Edinburgh University,
  • Scottish Screen Archive
  • Andy Dougan, lecturer in Digital Film and Television at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  Andy’s doctoral studies will form one component of the project.
Research in Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Glasgow Uni - click here

Kilmarnock Standard reports Film Festival

Headline: Film festival is a reel slice of history

Exhibition using library footage at Kilmarnock's Dick Institute.  Follow this up!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

We are celebrating ... more pictures

"Whittaker" is rather proud the way our "We are celebrating" page is shaping up.  More photos from Holyrood today.  See the 'We are' link on the sidebar to the right of this blogpost.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

We are: celebrating namechange with 30 days Scotland tour

"Whittaker" is logging where the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland magic tourbus is getting to.  They've been on Skye - see the images on the new "We are" blogpage to the right of this posting.  Please do send more images and links to

Digital storytelling - event at British Library 16th September 2011

Friday 16 September 2011 12.30 - 14.00
British Library Summer Scholars Seminar Series: Digital Storytelling: Inventing a New Cinematic Language for Documentary

Taking place at the British Library's Eccles Centre for American Studies. More details here.

Monday, 5 September 2011

When to blog, when to tweet?

Blogs are more discursive, and give the chance to pull info together from different sources.  Like my WhittakerLive posting on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland namechange, or my separate pages on Minstrels and Metaphors.

Tweets are great for single, punchy comments or notifications, and messages to individuals or all followers. And that's why I both blog and tweet, but I have an RSS feed from Twitter to Blogspot, so you can catch up with me both ways!

By the way, you might be interested in Leonard Cassuto's blogpost about academic blogging, in the Guardian Professional's Higher Education Network (advice, insight, and best practice from the community). Does blogging help progress for an early career academic?  Read it here.

Angel's Delight: Ashley Page ballet gets award

Read the article in today's Herald - click this link

NB you need to set up a free account with the Herald, to access the whole article.

Pete Seeger, filmmaker

Bibliolore has done a blog about Pete Seeger, whom we know as an American singer/song-collector - but there's more to know.  Read about his earlier filming activities ...

Click here.

See what the Whittaker Library has by Pete and his half-sister Peggy Seeger ... click here.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Brad effect: film-makers and stars flock to Scotland

Helen McArdle writes about the impact of Brad Pitt's Glasgow visit - Read her piece in the Sunday Herald, 4th September 2011.  (You need to register with - it's free.)

Friday, 2 September 2011

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Celebrates New Name with 30 Days of Events

Read about our new name at  

30 days of events all over Scotland - Whittaker would like some YouTube videos. Who's going to share them with me?  Email if you have a YouTube link to share.  Who was on Uist on Friday 2nd September 2011?

6th September, Amy-Beth Jordan reported that Barluath is touring the Highlands with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

 5th September, Amy-Beth Jordan reports that the Royal Conservatoire tour has made it to Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye. As you see ...!
Caught rehearsing in a 16th century castle,
4th September 2011

Why do scholars blog?

Inger Mewburn, aka The Thesis Whisperer, runs a very successful research blog. (Do visit  However, Inger also, from time to time, blogs elsewhere.  Today, 2nd September, I caught up with her on the Networked Researcher blog: her post is called Is there a new digital divide brewing?  It makes interesting reading.

"Whittaker" started asking "himself" why he maintains WhittakerLive.  Actually, it's all there on the sidebar:-
WhittakerLive has posted friendly and informative postings since 1999. We showcase performing arts websites, and higher education links that will interest our staff and student performers.

Current awareness: useful weblinks, publications, recordings, events etc. Also postings on learning skills, research support  and information literacy.
It's a wide remit, which is why the postings might seem rather random at first glance.  However, this week's postings are pretty representative of what we aim to achieve.  So, what have we got?  Obituaries for Ray Fisher (Scottish ballad singer) and Alasdair Gillies (bagpiper extraordinaire).  An 'on this day' posting for Joseph Ritson, an influential 18th century antiquarian. The name-change from RSAMD to Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  Digitised Beethoven.  The first call for papers, for Musica Scotica 2012 conference.

Now, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is not just about Scottish music, or indeed about classical music or music history.  It's drama, dance, film and TV, performance and improvisation ... so please do suggest newsworthy items or websites that are of potential use to staff and students working in these areas!

Obituary - Ray Fisher

Sad news passed on by Peter Shepheard of FifeSing:-

Ray Fisher has died in the morning of 31 August 2011, after a long battle with cancer. Her contribution to Scots song and balladry has been immense. An obituary by Sheila Miller has appeared today in Guardian Online. A date for the funeral has not yet been arranged.

Guardian obituary 
Staff and students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - See which Ray Fisher recordings we have in the Whittaker Library - click here.  Additionally, the English Dance & Song magazine for Spring 2009 had some coverage of Ray's activities, so the relevant articles will be added to our Scottish Ephemera file.

Grumpy Old Men: Joseph Ritson's anniversary


Joseph Ritson at work
Stockton antiquarian Joseph Ritson died, 3rd September 1808.  He had gone insane.

Fussy, pernickety and grumpy to the last, he was nonetheless a major influence on ballad scholars for the next century, and his insistence on accuracy and authenticity was groundbreaking.  He collected Scottish songs, despite being English.  As far back as 1784, he signed himself ‘anti-Scot’, when he wrote in The Gentleman’s Magazine that John Pinkerton’s Select Scottish Ballads (1783) largely consisted of forgeries.  (Pinkerton later admitted this, but got his revenge by an adverse criticism of Ritson’s Scotish Songs in 1795.) 

Ritson also - as you might guess - disapproved of the poetic excesses of Highlander Joseph McPherson's Ossian epics.  Which doesn't mean Ritson disliked Scottish song - far from it.  But his own attitudes to accuracy and authenticity come through in his Scotish Songs preface.  Intrigued? Then find out more!

You can read his Scotish Songs (yes, that's correct) online on Google Books if you don’t have access to the originals:-

Articles and papers by our Music and Academic Services Librarian, Karen McAulay:-
  • 'Antiquarianism versus creativity in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Scottish song', in Eighteenth Century Scotland 24 (Spring 2010), pp.7-12
  • 'From ‘Anti-Scot', to ‘Anti-Scottish Sentiment': Cultural Nationalism and Scottish Song in the Late Eighteenth to Nineteenth Centuries', in Library and Information History, Vol. 26 No. 4, December, 2010, 272–88
  • ‘1810-1825: From antiquarian to creative artist, as exemplified by Scottish song collectors’, paper delivered at Oran 2010/2010 Sang: an International Conference on Gaelic and Scots Song, (Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Isle of Skye).
More sources of information:-
  • Search Copac to find Ritson’s output in British academic and national libraries
  • Ritson worked with Tyneside composer William Shield, whom you can read about in Oxford Music Online (you need to be a subscriber; affiliated with a subscribing institution; or have access to a public library which subscribes)
  • Read a basic biography of Ritson on Wikipedia.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

RSAMD becomes Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Readers are advised that the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama today became

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Short film about the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, who we are and what we do.