Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Friday, 30 May 2014

The German Fach System - Different Voice Types

Has your singing teacher referred to the Fach System?  You didn't like to admit it was unfamiliar?  It's the German way of categorising voice types.

Panic not!  We have a book about it in the Whittaker Library:-

What the Fach?! The definitive guide for opera singers auditioning and working in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, by Philip Shepard.  Catalogue details here.

You can also read a page about it on our IPA Source database - the database which gives the IPA pronunciations of opera and song texts.  The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has a subscription, which our staff and students can access online, on campus.  Check it out here:-

Here's the page about the German Fach system.  (You'll need to be on site to access it.)

Scottish Country Dancing - if Jean Milligan only knew!


The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society was founded in 1923 by Jean Milligan, the first dance teacher at Jordanhill teacher training college, and Mrs Stewart of Fasnacloich.  (As it happens, 'Whittaker's' mother-in-law Peggy McAulay (nee Fife) was Jean Milligan's first pianist at Jordanhill during her time as a student there ...)

If Jean Milligan only knew!  Her society has grown and prospered, and spawned branches worldwide.  The Whittaker Library has dozens and dozens of Scottish country dance tune-books, from St Andrews, Edinburgh, Carlisle and the Borders, Leeds, Birmingham, even New Zealand!  We haven't got every book of dance tunes ever published, but it felt like it today when we were updating our catalogue!  Old ones and newer collections - they're all represented.

Take a look here.

What makes a Scottish country dance tune? Some are from old fiddle tune-books.  Some have been written in a similar style by modern Scots or other Scottish country dance musicians, worldwide.  Does it have to be Scottish to be a Scottish country dance tune, then?  We would say, not necessarily!

Here's another mind-boggling thought: just imagine if you totted up the hours that our books have spent being played at ceilidhs worldwide, since they were published.  And then, how many dancers have been accompanied by pianists playing from those books ... not to mention, how many cups of teas were served between dances ...!

What was dance music like, in 1781 London? Thompson Revisited ...

Book Review: Thompson Revisited (18th century dance tunes)

Karen's eyes lit up when she found this - she's researched the rare Caledonian Muse, a dance book by the Thompson publishing dynasty, and now, here's a book compiling dance music published between 1781-1788.  What could be more intriguing or delightful?  We bought it for the Whittaker Library and it's hitting the shelves any day now.  (Details here.)

The book contains the tunes as they were published 'for violin, German flute and hautboy [oboe]'. The tunes are re-set, not in facsimile, which makes them larger and clearer for performance, and there are ample dance instructions.  There's no accompaniment - just tunes - but a basic understanding of harmony would enable a musician to improvise a bass.  The whole book is edited and rewritten by Boyd Rothenberger, who is on the board of governers of CONTRALAB, an international organization of contra dance leaders.  He teaches 'dances from the American Revolutionary War and War of 1812 periods of history to military re-inactors across the country ...', and found these Thompson books when he was visiting Exeter in Devon.  

There's a useful alphabetical index, and an invaluable glossary of dance terms.

From a researcher's point of view, the transcription of the original title page is not entirely accurate - unless there was perhaps a choice of title pages for different years.  An introduction with bibliographical and contextual information would have been useful.  However, as far as dancers are concerned, here's a great collection of dance tunes as performed at 'Court, Bath, Tunbridge [and] all Public Assemblies' at the end of the eighteenth century.  It's available from Amazon.

RIP Maya Angelou, poet (1928-2014)

Visit  Maya Angelou's website:-

Whittaker decided to use our library subscription to Web of Knowledge, to find information about the late Maya Angelou, one of the great poets of our time. There's a wealth of info there.  If you're part of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, search Web of Knowledge here.

Whittaker also came across this tribute on James Clear's website:- 

Masters of Habit: The Wisdom and Writing of Maya Angelou

Monday, 26 May 2014

North London Piano School - International Summer Course 2014

North London Piano School Summer Course

Piano and Violin

16 -23 August 2014

Gala Concerts 23 August 2014


London International Music Competition

London International Music Competition

19 - 23 August 2014

Sections for Piano, Voice, Strings, Wind Instruments, Piano Duo, Ensembles 

Age groups: 11 and under; 16 and under; Open.

Gala concert 23 August 2014

Website:-   DEADLINE 31 May for applications.

In Whittaker's Snail-Mail: Contemporary Music in Strasbourg, France

Académie d'été de l'Ensemble Linea

Musique contemporaine / contemporary music

Summer academy of the Ensemble Linea

Strasbourg, France (Cité de la Musique et de la Danse)
25 - 31 August 2014

Whittaker received a leaflet for this summer music course in the post last week.  Online details can be found HERE.

Glasgow School of Art - Devastating Fire

Glasgow School of Art

Our hearts go out to the Glasgow School of Art, which suffered a catastrophic fire last Friday. We understand that the archives have been saved, but not the historic old library.  The fire is a tragedy for Glasgow and for the international art community.

Follow the aftermath, the start of the clean-up, and the fundraising on the GSA Twitter account here.


The Big Idea

"Following the fire in the Mackintosh Building, the Governors, Staff and Students of The Glasgow School of Art have been touched by the many generous offers of financial support. This fund is a mechanism by which you can support an unrestricted fund to enable the GSA to respond to this sad event."

Fundraising is via 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Scottish Journal of Performance - CFP

Reminder: CALL FOR PAPERS: Scottish Journal of Performance (Volume 2, Issue 1)

"The Scottish Journal of Performance is a peer-reviewed open access journal focusing both on performance in Scotland (contemporary and historical) and / or wider aspects of performance presented by scholars and reflective practitioners based in Scotland. We invite contributions from a wide and diverse community of researchers, providing opportunities for both established and early career scholars to submit work. We encourage a wide range of research methods and approaches, including practice-led research and practice as research. Possible submission formats include audio and video recordings with commentary, practitioner reports, reflective journals and scholarly articles."


Deadline for submissions: 27 June 2014
Publication date: December 2014

Please see the SJoP website ( for further details and the full Call for Papers.

Spotted on Twitter - Learn to Manage a VFX Film Project in Dublin this July

Learn how to manage a VFX project at VFX: Script to Screen

"Producers and directors, want to gain the skills you need to produce and manage a VFX project from development to post-production?

"Screen Training Ireland and the Irish Film Board’s VFX: Script to Screen is now accepting applications for its 2014 edition."

Full details here:-  Creative Europe Media

16th International Kozani Music Seminar August 19-31.2014 Kozani Greece

'Whittaker' received notification of a Greek music seminar this summer.  Details can be found online:-

19-31 August 2014, Kozani

Festival, Conference and Competitions


Ten years with the Double Bass - a List of Bass Study Books

A useful listing of double bass studies and other instructional repertoire can be found online at the Médiathèque in Paris.  The series is called "10 Ans avec", and there are other listings for wind band, viola, and children's opera, with a harp listing promised shortly.

There, you see?  Bibliography sounds a dull word, but it's a gateway to lots of exciting stuff!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Music on Stage: Conference Call (Rose Bruford College, 18-19 October 2014)

Researchers interested in opera, music, film, the musical, and their performance, may find this conference call interesting:-
5th International “Music on Stage” conference
Rose Bruford College, Sidcup, Kent
October 18-19th 

Conference fee £100

Keynote speakers: Professor Nicholas Till (Sussex) and Mary King (international mezzo-soprano and Honorary Fellow Rose Bruford College)

Abstracts of 200 words should be sent to Dr F Jane Schopf –  

Streams: Opera, Opera and film, the Musical, performance.

Papers will be published (subject to peer review) by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.




Friday, 16 May 2014

In the In-Tray: SOLAS 2014 Festival, 20-22 June 2014, Perth

We received leaflets about a forthcoming music festival:-

ESTA, and now JESTA - No Kidding!

ESTA stands for the European String Teachers Association - you knew that.

However, today the Whittaker Library received a pile of magazines entitled JESTA, which came as part of our subscription to ESTA.

A Survival Guide for Young String Players

JESTA - the magazine and the website - is 'a survival guide for young string players'.  If you encounter a young string player looking as though they might need survival skills, please do direct them to the website - or tell Junior Conservatoire members that there are currently 7 copies of the Summer 2014 issue of the magazine, at the Whittaker Library Issue Desk.

* The European String Teachers Association website is:-

 (Don't be fooled into thinking the website is the junior website without the "J" - that would take you somewhere very different!) 

Digital Libraries for Musicology Workshop

First call for papers:-

ACM/IEEE Digital Libraries conference 2014

Monday, 12 May 2014

Mental Health Awareness Week - free access to quality journal articles until 31 July 2014

Mental Health - Raising Awareness

Here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, our e-journals extend far beyond just music, drama, dance, film and TV, but today's offer by publisher Routledge nonetheless provides a generous offer of quality articles that we might not otherwise be able to access.

So, here's the deal (quoting from the emailed circular that we received today):-

"To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Routledge have compiled a free article collection on Anxiety."For one week each May, the Mental Health Foundation raises awareness of a specific theme for Mental Health Awareness Week. This year's theme is Anxiety, one of the leading causes of mental ill-health around the world.
Featuring over seventy leading articles from our Behavioral Science portfolio, this collection is hosted in one handy place and is completely free to access until July 31st 2014.
Click here to further your understanding of Anxiety."
Our RCS Counsellor shares some useful weblinks about mental health:-
The Mental Health Foundation is focusing on the theme of anxiety this week, as one of the leading causes of mental ill-health. Anxiety is defined as ‘an on-going sense of worry without a specific cause’.  Around 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem such as anxiety each year and many of them will not seek help to get a diagnosis.

To help address this the Mental Health Foundation has produced a booklet which examines what anxiety is, the different types of anxiety, how it affects us and how to manage it if we feel that it is going beyond a healthy level and causing us distress.

Other sources of help


Friday, 9 May 2014

BAMBOO DiRT - a Directory of Research Tools

Although the name is unusual, this is a very useful listing if you need electronic tools to conduct your research -

"Bamboo DiRT is a registry of digital research tools for scholarly use. Developed by Project Bamboo, Bamboo DiRT makes it easy for digital humanists and others conducting digital research to find and compare resources ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mindmapping software."

Just out of curiosity, 'Whittaker' checked out the listings of bibliographic software and was amazed how much was there.  (Yes, Mendeley was amongst them, so Karen's world can keep turning ... )

If your research involves any of these activities, it looks as though BAMBOO DiRT is a link worth saving!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Music Librarianship and Research: One of 23 Librarians

A few weeks ago, a recently-retired librarian called Anabel Marsh started a blog about the very varied careers of 23 different librarians.  Karen was invited to guest-contribute a blog-post, which appeared on 14th March.  Happy to have been able to contribute, she thought no more of this until a comment appeared in her in-box: the blog was recommended to a class of librarianship students in South Korea, and a would-be music librarian wanted to make contact with her.  Truly the internet has made it a very small world these days!

In-Tray News: The Rose Playhouse


"The Rose was the first playhouse on Bankside in London, built in 1587. Its remains were discovered and two-thirds of the site excavated in 1988/89.  [...]  The Rose Theatre Trust is now raising funds to finish the excavation ... "
The Whittaker Library received flyers in the post today:- 

  • Rose Readathon (12 hours of non-stop readings of the works of Marlowe and Shakespeare), 31 May.  
  • The event is part of the Rose Revealed Project, which includes regular productions.  
More about the Rose Theatre here:-

Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach

  • Book by conductor John Eliot Gardiner - highly reputable name, fantastic title - and the content looks excellent.  
  • Ordered by Whittaker Library for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
  • Anticipation running high!  Watch this space - here's where you'll find it when it arrives and is catalogued ... NEW BOOKS AT THE WHITTAKER LIBRARY

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Composer Antony Hopkins dies aged 93

Read the BBC announcement of Antony Hopkins' death here.

The Whittaker Library stock includes several scores by the composer, including a couple of children's operas.  

Meanwhile, one member of the Whittaker Library staff remembers this book as being influential upon her development as a pianist - though it has to be said that sadly her early talent never became anything outstanding!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Received in the Mail

 So dust off your passport and start planning your travels!

The Linen, the Stitch and the Wardrobe - Making an early Victorian Shift

The clever people in the University of St Andrews Library Special Collections are blogging their way through a wide range of historic 'how to' manuals.

This week, it's all about following an early 19th century dressmaking pattern and using a 19th century embroidery manual, to make a simple linen shift.

The Wardrobe Department at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland might be very interested in this, as a creative experiment.  Though I suspect busy costume makers don't have time for Victorian embroidery!!

Take a look at 52 Weeks of Historical How-To's - it's a beautiful and intriguing blog.

Scottish Traditional Music Survey - Dr Simon McKerrell

You are invited to fill out a new survey on Scottish traditional music and to contribute to a greater understanding of how it is experienced in communities in Scotland and abroad. The survey is being conducted by Dr Simon McKerrell at Newcastle University for the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK project, Understanding Scotland Musically. Please find the survey at the following link:

The results of this survey will be used to inform research about Scottish traditional music in communities, policy and practice. If you have any questions, please contact Simon McKerrell,

More information about the project is available at Simon is conducting this widespread survey for a research project on Scottish traditional music - please do encourage as many interested people to fill it in as possible and circulate widely, the greater the circulation, the more meaningful the results. Simon hopes to gather as wide a purposive sample as possible from the community of interest in Scottish traditional music and will be publishing the results on the project website.