Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Friday, 30 August 2013

What We would Tell New Students

We're revising our Whittaker Library guides.  Whatever our staff and students play or sing, there's a guide to our library holdings.  And now we're working on the general guides - all the stuff about what we lend, how long we lend it for, how you can renew things, what happens with orchestral or choral materials ... and so on.  Sure, there's a lot on our website, but folk like to pick up a leaflet when they're in the library, too.

But then I started thinking.  What else would I tell new students?

Keep an accurate list of everything you read.  Keep it electronically, whether with software (Mendeley, Zotero, or Endnote) or just a well-formatted Word list.

Even if you haven't taken notes on a book or journal article, you could make a quick note of what it was about. Even a sentence will do - it might help you later when you're trying to remember what you read, or where you read something!

Always have a notebook handy, or use Evernote on your electronic devices - or some other cloud-based document.

If you're a research student, sign up to Zetoc ( or JournalTocs ( - "Toc" stands for Table of Contents.  These services scan journal contents pages, then you get sent email alerts when new articles are published in your field.  Cool, eh?
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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Traditional Music Exams with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland was called RSAMD, in the days when our traditional music exams were launched.

Some of the music can now be downloaded online, and the rest can be bought, via 

This is the link for downloading and ordering RCS trad music exam material: Click here

Teaching Cultural History Through National Song

Music and Academic Services Librarian Karen McAulay has posted on a scholarly blog about Victorian history, the Journal of Victorian Culture Online.  Read her article here:-

(29 August 2013)

Monday, 26 August 2013

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RSAMD) Alumni are Herald Angels

Fiddle stars Rant win top prize at Edinburgh Festival

Scotland’s new chamber-folk quartet Rant have won a Herald Angel for their performance at the Acoustic Music Centre @ St Bride’s during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Featuring four of Scotland’s leading fiddle players, Shetlander sisters Jenna and Bethany Reid and Highlanders Lauren MacColl and Sarah-Jane Summers, Rant formed in the summer of 2012 and appeared to huge acclaim at the Fiddle 2012 festival in Edinburgh last November. Their Fringe concert, which was part of the Made in Scotland 2013 programme, marked the launch of the group’s self-titled debut album, which was released on August 19 on Make Believe Records.   (Jenna and Lauren both studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD), and naturally enough, the Whittaker Library has the CD on order - watch this space!)

Now in their nineteenth year, the Herald Angels are awarded by Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald for excellence across the range of festivals that take place in Edinburgh during August and are much-coveted among performers, companies and event organisers. Previous winners with traditional music connections include Gaelic singer Flora MacNeil, pipers Gordon Duncan and Allan MacDonald and fiddler Duncan Chisholm.
“We’re delighted to win the Herald Angel, especially as the other winners at the ceremony came from across the arts spectrum including ballet, literature and classical music,” says Rant spokeswoman Jenna Reid. “It was a complete surprise and an honour to be recognised for our wee part in the world's biggest arts festival.”

For further information, contact

Thursday, 22 August 2013

A Sense of Place: Border Ballads set in Context by Lucy Macrae

Border ballad scholar Lucy Macrae, of Edinburgh University, has just posted an interesting article about Walter Scott and the sense of place, in Border balladry.

Musicians studying Border ballads, or indeed Scottish traditional song, will find very much the same kind of thing in early Victorian collections of songs 'with their airs', ie, music collections.

Music Graduate needed - British Library Curator, Digital Sheet Music

Six-month position at the British Library - all details here.

Iseabail T. Macdonald (NicDhomhnaill), tradition-bearer from South Uist

We are very excited to hear that Iseabail will be working with our Scottish music students this year.  She has written extensively for Gaelic TV and radio.  For example, Seachd: the inaccessible Pinnacle, or the BBC Gaelic programme, A' Choille.  She's regarded as a tradition-bearer in Gaelic song. She has contributed content to Education Scotland's website, Scotland's Songs.

Iseabail has also catalogued Gaelic material for Tobar an Dualchais.

Iseabail's full Gaelic name is Iseabail T. NicDhòmhnaill.  (In Gaelic, 'Nic' means 'daughter', so Iseabail's name means 'daughter of Donald'.)

In Praise of Great Teachers - Steinbeck

Tweeter R C de Winter reminds us of John Steinbeck's words about great teachers ...

"... a great teacher is a great artist ..."
Read the whole quotation here.   With thanks to @RCdeWinter!

Friday, 16 August 2013

A Whimsical Look at the Life of a Library Book

'But what do you do with your old books?'

We found this rather entertaining blog about the life-cycle of a book in a public library.  There may be slight differences in a college library, but much of this blogpost still struck a chord.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

RMA Study Day: "Researching music as process: methods and approaches"

RMA Study Day, "Researching music as process: methods and approaches",
University of Oxford, 22 November 2013.

Folk Musician Mike Seeger would have been 80 today, Bibliolore reminds us

Bibliolore blog commemorates what would have been Mike Seeger's eightieth birthday.  Read their blogpost.
Bibliolore is the blog authored by RILM music indexers.  Always quality information, on a variety of music related topics.  Bibliolore homepage here.

Bet you didn't know this - librarians more influential than we realise!

A research study into medical students' essay-writing shows that nearly half of the resources they reference in their first-year essays, are resources they were told about by their librarians in introductory sessions.

What we tell you, you remember - that's gratifying for us, and great news for you and your lecturers.  Seriously, it is!

Here's the report - it's quite short.

Whittaker Shares Useful Links for Performers

You can tell what our priorities are here!  We keep a Diigo note of useful links that we encounter in our work, and it's no suprise that the Scottish Music Centre and Irish Traditional Music Archive come top of the list this time.

Bibliographies are always a hot topic here, too. If you're a researcher, you'll already know how important it is to keep track of your resources.  Warwick University Library runs a Library Research Exchange, where we found this great page about annotated bibliographies, which we simply had to share with you.  (In a nutshell - a bibliography is essential.  Annotations bring untold added value - it's for your own benefit.)

Another research link that may be useful is the Biennial Music in Nineteenth Century Britain Conference.  It was in Cardiff this year, but watch this space for details of the 2015 Conference!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Bibliolore blogs about Mallarme and Dance

Mention Mallarme to our singers, and they'll think of poetry.  But the people at RILM (the music bibliography database) have blogged today about Mallarme and dance.  So, that means Mallarme will be interesting to our ballet students, too!

Read the Bibliolore blogpost about Mallarme and dance here.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Channel 4 : How to Make A Musical

This is a posting from the Guardian Culture Professionals Network.  Channel 4 is making a documentary about musicals.  Click here for more details.

Kyoto Costume Institute - Fabulous Images from Japan

Do you Work in a Wardrobe?

Costume designers in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Wardrobe department at Speirs Locks, Glasgow, will be interested in this Japanese digital archive of costume design.  The costumes are from all over the world, not just Japan.

KCI Digital Archive

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Barbican Centre - Theatre Admin Apprentice (Deadline Approaches)

The deadline is tomorrow.  Act now, or forever regret that you didn't!  Here's the link, just tweeted to the Whittaker Library:-

Do you have an interest in theatre? There’s one day left to apply to be our new Theatre Administrative Apprentice:

Is Fiddle Music Traditional? Views from Above and Below ...

  • How 'traditional' is fiddle music really?
  • What does the word 'fiddle' mean to you?

Two blogs recently addressed this question:- the Bass Culture blog associated with David McGuinness and the University of Glasgow AHRC-funded research into fiddle music accompaniments; and Ronnie Gibson's Scottish Fiddle Music blog from the University of Aberdeen, where he's a doctoral student.

If you study or work with traditional music, you may find both blogs of some interest.

Martyn Bennett Traditional Music Prize

Martyn Bennett was a student at the RSAMD, and his mother, Margaret Bennett, is on our teaching staff for the Scottish Music course.  We're delighted to share details of this prize with you.

All entries must be received by 5pm, Mon 12 August 2013

From the website:- 
"The Queen’s Hall and the Traditional Music Forum are inviting submissions for a compositional prize for new work that takes its inspiration from Scottish traditional music. Applications are open to all composers and musicians aged 16+ based in Scotland whose work and practice evidences the influence of Scottish traditional music.

The submitted piece should be between five and ten minutes long and not previously performed in public in either informal or formal settings. The work should have its roots in Scottish traditional music and look outward to a connected world. The competition is only open to instrumental music; songs with lyrics will not be considered, but the use of vocal elements (eg chanting) is allowed."

Irish folk theatre - a paper by David 'Daithí' Kearney

Evolution of Irish folk theatre

People interested in theatre, or Celtic folk performing arts, might be interested in this paper by David 'Daithí' Kearney.  He posted this on his page:-
David is on the faculty at Dundalk Institute of Technology, Section of Music.  (If you're a researcher, you might consider joining yourself, to provide online access to papers and talks you've written.)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Scottish Fiddle Music - Ronnie Gibson launches his website

This website consists of blogposts on different aspects of Scottish fiddle music, and is authored by Aberdeen PhD candidate Ronnie Gibson.  These are some of the topics covered:-

  • Finding Tunes Online
  • Finding Tunes In Print
  • Playing Fiddle Music
  • Historic Collections

What's New in the Whittaker Library?

You can always find out what's new by clicking the link on our catalogue homepage.  (Imaginatively, we called it 'New Additions to the Catalogue'!)  It's updated daily.

Chattering woodwind in Rory Boyle CD, A Box of Chatter

Compositions by our own composer and lecturer, Rory Boyle, are played by woodwind students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  We've just added the CD to stock today. 

Description here.

Studying with Special Needs: Some Personal Narratives

Back in 2005, when Karen was in a group for academic librarians providing disability support, she wrote an article for Library Review, about studying with special needs, and how libraries can help.

The article is still attracting interest - Emerald reminded her that there's a live link to it, if your library subscribes to Library Review.  So, here it is:-

Title:Studying with special needs: some personal narratives
Author(s):Karen E. McAulay, (Music and Academic Services Librarian, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow, UK)
Citation:Karen E. McAulay, (2005) "Studying with special needs: some personal narratives", Library Review, Vol. 54 Iss: 8, pp.486 - 491
Keywords:Academic libraries, Disabled people, Scotland
Article type:Conceptual paper

Live Link

Scottish Cultural History as illustrated by Musical Song Collections

'Whittaker' (aka Music and Academic Services Librarian Karen McAulay) gave an illustrated talk to visiting librarians from the Library and Information History Group, a couple of weeks ago.  There was no PowerPoint, but the talk is available via Karen's pages. Click here.

Bluegrass Etiquette

Don't rustle sweet papers. Don't whisper.  Don't fidget.  Don't clap between movements .... how can that possibly apply to bluegrass music?

Ah, but it doesn't!  Folk music has different codes of etiquette.  This is the subject of the latest Bibliolore blogpost from the RILM indexing team.  Read it here:-

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Songs of Scotland by Allan Cunningham

Allan Cunningham (7 December 1784 – 30 October 1842)*

Fraud, Forger and Poet

Although we ordered one of those cheap modern digital reprints of Allan Cunningham's Songs of Scotland, I didn't think it would matter much. After all, what matters is that we can read his introduction, as much as the poetry his once-famous anthology contains.

I didn't bargain on the cheap modern reprint containing only the introduction.  Ah, well!  You win some, you lose some.  Here's where to find it in the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  (Catalogue entry.)

Cunningham was a bit of a fraud - he made up poems as well as including genuine old Scottish poems.  Still, although in the 1820s his peers thought he was a fraud, within a few years of his death, he was revered as a poet in his own right. 

The wording of his introduction shows us his poetic interpretation of the history of Scotland's poetry.  Interesting!

* Whilst we wouldn't recommend Wikipedia as a trusty source for an essay, the basic details of Cunningham's life and output are here for a start.

Caledonia - Discussion about name Caledonia in Scottish songs


Interesting recent debate on Foot Stompin' Forum this week:-

(For what it's worth, Sir Walter Scott was addressing Caledonia as long ago as 1805, in his poem, Lay of the Last Minstrel)