Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Monday, 30 March 2015

How to Source Information for your Music Essay

Igor Stravinsky
When the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Whittaker Library consulted students recently, we heard that students find it most useful to receive targeted information about topics being studied or written about.  


... So we’ve been looking at the Music History 3 essay questions to see how our online resources could help you.  Just about everything you need is here, available 24:7

  1. You can often find a score online.   Use your computer’s snipping tool to copy little excerpts for examples.  We subscribe to Alexander Street Press Classical Scores Library (accessible online wherever you are), and Library Music Source (accessible on site).  You probably already know about IMSLP (the Petrucci library), too. 
  2.  If a piece of music has an English title as well as its original title, search both.
  1.  You can look for information in Groves Dictionary – it’s part of Oxford Music Online. 
  2.  You can also find useful information on JSTOR.  Be clever with your searching – if the essay is asking you to link concepts (eg Liszt and literature), make sure your search terms reflect that. 
  3.  If  JSTOR hasn’t got what you want, don’t give up. Try RILM (music abstracts).  HINT: The advanced search will get better results than the simple one!  The SmartText searching option is good for finding adjacent words in a phrase.  If you only read material in English, or another language, you can factor that into your search, too. 
  4.  There’s nothing wrong with older literature, if it informs the question you are answering. However, do remember that opinions may have changed, if an article is very old indeed!! 
  5. Search keywords in our catalogue.  Start with a precise search (eg the composer’s name and  perhaps the piece) then broaden it if you don’t get what you need.  If you don’t find the right information under a composer’s name, try MUSIC HISTORY - and maybe the century you’re interested in.  If you’re off-site, limit your results to e-books to see if there’s anything you can read online.  

  1. You can stream music by Naxos or Alexander Street Press Music Library.  Check our e-resources page.
  1. There are also plenty of electronic journals on the e-journals page.  Start by looking for suitable journals under the List of Music Titles.

How To Cite References, Chicago Style

Our RCS music students are encouraged to develop a consistent citation style, such as the Chicago (also called Turabian) style. This means that if you quote from a book or article, you put a footnote number after the quotation, and the details go in the footnote at the bottom of the page.

Here's a useful summary shared with us by Dr Peter Argondizza. He sourced it from the University of Wisconsin at Madison:-

A Guide to Chicago or Turabian Documentation Style / The Writing Centre, University of Wisconsin

 Our BMus third year students are working on essays about Stravinksy and Beethoven.  Here's a quote from a book about Stravinsky, followed by the footnote telling you where the quote comes from.  (The book itself is actually here, waiting to be labelled and shelved in the Whittaker Library, so watch those shelves!):-

"His initial impulse was to reproduce the sound of a Russian peasant band" 1
1   Pieter C. Van den Toorn and John McGuinness, Stravinsky and the Russian period: Sound and legacy of a musical idiom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 75

Friday, 27 March 2015

RCS Alumnus Simon McKerrell Touches on Intangible Heritage

ICH means Intangible Cultural Heritage
... read what it means for Scotland

Intangible Cultural Heritage is a bit of a buzzword in creative circles these days.  A few weeks ago, the Scottish Storytelling Centre held a workshop about the kind of cultural heritage that you can't physically touch, or see, but rather experience as part of oral or inherited tradition.  Read a delegate's reflections after the event, here.

Now piper Simon McKerrell, alumnus of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and lecturer at the University of Newcastle, takes up the theme in his latest blogpost:-

224 years ago, this is what German Children Sang!

 Please Meet Placidus Partsch!

 We're attacking our cataloguing piles today!  Karen assigned herself a big pile of collected editions and rolled her sleeves up. At the bottom of the heap was Liedersammlung fur Kinder und Kinderfreunde am Clavier: Fruhlingslieder and Winterlieder, dating from 1791.  The introduction explains that the collection was compiled for children to sing, or for older children and adults to sing to younger ones.  So - this is intended as nursery repertoire, 1791-style!

It's fascinating!  The very first song is one set by Mozart - not the only one - and you might recognise the names of Vanhal and Hoffmann.  (The others are no longer exactly mainstream.)  The compiler, a man with the enviable name of Placidus Partsch, set himself the task of assembling 30 songs for each season, but only the spring and winter volumes survive.

You can find them in our catalogue HERE, and they're shelved as part of the Recent Researches in the Music of the Classical Era series, vol.95, published by A-R Editions.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Spring Break Essays? Did you look quickly at JSTOR then give up?

This posting offers advice to students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, many of whom have music history essays to write during the spring break!

Everyone tells you JSTOR is great, right?  So you look, and either there's too much, or not enough.

Search Smart!

Once you've accessed JSTOR (directly on-site or using your institutional login off-campus), make sure you're only searching for items we can access - there's a button to click.

Also, by using Advanced Search, you can be more specific about what you want.  For example, rather than flinging Beethoven Quartets into the simple search box, you could specify that Beethoven must appear in the title of an article, and Quartets can appear anywhere in the full text.  Obviously if you're too specific, you can end up limiting the search too much, but it's certainly worth playing with those search boxes!

If you do all that and then can't access the article you've found, contact your library.  We're happy to look into any difficulties our students encounter. 

And here's another useful tip:- keep a note of the references you find. You can list them in your bibliography, including the hyperlinks if necessary.

Free Scores for RCS Music Students!

Okay, everyone knows about IMSLP, otherwise known as the Petrucci Music Library.  It's free.  (Check that you're not breaching copyright in the country where you live).

If you're a university or conservatoire music student, your library may well subscribe to additional, premium, services offering you more "free" music.  (The library pays, so patrons don't have to.)


Get music free online through Alexander Street Press Classical Scores Library - if you’re off-campus, you’ll need to login first.  

Classical Scores Library, Volume I* (part of the MOP collection)

Classical Scores Library, Volume II* (part of the MOP collection)

Alternatively, if you search the whole Alexander Street Press music database, you’ll find videos, recordings AND these scores.  Start here, selecting the music drop-down before you search:-

Look down the side to single out videos, audio or scores.


Download sheet music from LibraryMusicSource (on-campus only):  


Use your computer’s “snipping tool” to copy little excerpts for musical examples to back up your arguments or illustrate what you're describing.

Theatre for Kids - Ben Fletcher Watson reviews "Oily Cart"

Three Decades of Pioneering Practice

A Review of Oily Cart: all sort of theatre for all sorts of kids, edited by Mark Brown.

(Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books, 2012). 
168 p., £22.99. ISBN: 1858565103

 Royal Conservatoire of Scotland researcher Ben Fletcher Watson has uploaded his review of a book about theatre for children.  Visit his page here to read it.

Happy 90th Birthday, Boulez!

IAML, our professional music library association, commemorates Boulez's birthday:-

Composer, conductor and musical intellectual Pierre Boulez is 90 today! Antony Gordon has written a tribute to him on the IAML website:

Happy 90th Birthday, Pierre Boulez!