Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Friday, 29 May 2015

Think you Know all about Opera and Celebrity?

Then here's a conference you might be interested in!

Do you know your Quadrilles from your Contredanses?

Quadrilles and Contredanses - Saturday 6 June, Edinburgh

We have been asked to help promote this exciting dance event, which takes place in Edinburgh next Saturday, 6th June

  • Dance Workshop 10.30 AM to 4.30 PM (£20)
  • Regency Ball 7.30-9.30 PM (£8/£6 or £5 with Workshop ticket)

  • Venue:  Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh, with live music on period instruments throughout the day from members of Concerto Caledonia.
All welcome! Low-heeled shoes or dance pumps recommended ~ Regency dress suggested but not required for the ball. 

University of Hull: Lecturer Catherine Baker Researches Eurovision Song Contest - Gender and Geopolitics

From Catherine Baker, Lecturer at the University of Hull .... Eurovision!

We heard about Catherine Baker's research on, a website which is essentially an international network for academics and researchers.

Catherine's paper looked interesting, so we thought we'd share the link with you here:-

Introduction: Gender and Geopolitics in the Eurovision Song Contest

Monday, 25 May 2015

Old American music manuscript contains Scots and Gaelic airs!

Our colleagues at RILM recently posted on Bibliolore about a fabulous new American music manuscript resource.  Here is is:-
Now, we weren't sure how many of our readers would rush to this website, so we thought we'd look for something that would interest them.  Easy, we thought.  Let's look up Skye.  (Karen has been looking at Highland repertoire over the weekend!)

Just look what we found!  

Click here!  This is an old manuscript book of Scottish songs, compiled during the nineteenth century.  And bear in mind this is just one document of many.

From the American Vernacular Music Manuscripts, ca. 1730-1910:-
"Handwritten music manuscripts by common Americans contain primary and direct evidence of their musical preferences during a particular time and in a particular place. To see, play from, or study one of these old manuscripts brings us as close to that person’s musical life as history allows. Laborious inscriptions of a tune, hymn, or song – made by musicians of the music they played, loved, or wanted to learn – are precious and unique windows into music-making, acknowledging that this music mattered to them and, thus, matters to us!
"Search only Song/Tune titles.

"American Vernacular Music Manuscripts, ca. 1730-1910: Digital Collections from the American Antiquarian Society and the Center for Popular Music" has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities..."

Pipers, Tell Us What You Think!

We found a slightly retro bagpipe website called The Universe of Bagpipes.  There is literally loads of information there, and to the untrained eye, it looks quite respectable (though we don't like the luminous green type on the homepage).  And yes, the url is !

Pipers, please tell us if you'd like this link added to our music portal on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's library Mahara pages.  If no-one passes any opinion, the link will stay on this blog but won't go to Mahara.  It's up to you!

View more films of Scotland - our Film Students might like this!

Posted by the National Library of Scotland recently, a reminder that the Scottish Screen Archive has more films that might interest you.

If you're interested in old Scottish films, or film and TV history, then head over to this link (and bookmark it for later!):-

View more films of Scotland

We are the very helpful Whittaker Library here to help our performing artists with their information needs. And we're open this Bank Holiday Monday 25th May, normal opening hours!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Is Your Leadership Inspired? We have Leadership Foundation Reports ...

It goes without saying that the Whittaker Library supports teaching, learning and research at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  However, we also support educationalists and managers by keeping a collection of reports and papers on best practice in higher education and management.

In short,we're not just a collection of music, drama, dance and production materials!  So if there's some aspect of your work that you'd like to compare with current best practice, do check the library catalogue and electronic resources.

  1. Catalogue link
  2. Library and IT pages

Colleagues Duffy and Broad contribute to book on Artistic Practice as Research in Music

Artistic practice as research in music: theory, criticism, practice

RCS Head of Research Stephen Broad and former colleague Celia Duffy have contributed to an Ashgate collection of essays about different aspects of artistic practice as research in music. The Whittaker Library naturally has a copy! You can find it here (catalogue entry).

Celia and Stephen's article is entitled, "Practising Research, Playing with Knowledge".

We are the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, here to support students and colleagues with their information needs.

It's not the Format, but the Content! Oxford Handbooks - Music

The Whittaker Library currently has a trial of Oxford Handbooks Online for music students and staff at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

We're not promoting this just because it's "more online stuff", but because this is truly world-class, quality material which we think our readers will be able to make good use of.  So, if you're part of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland community - whether you're registered on music or other courses - do take a look.  There are just 23 online Oxford Handbooks in music, but they cover many relevant and contemporary aspects of the subject.

Because it is a trial, access is only within the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland buildings, and it continues until 30th June 2015.  Look for our name, and click "Sign in", then use your usual RCS username and password

Visit the Collection here.
The Oxford Handbooks series brings together the world’s leading scholars to write articles that survey the current state of scholarship in their field. The articles review the key issues, reveal original arguments and concepts, and set the agenda for new research.
This free access is available until 30th June 2015

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Can you tell your Scripsit from your Sculpsit?

Here's a little bit of book history to broaden your mind!

If you're looking at REALLY old music, sometimes you see tiny writing at the bottom of the title page - "Script" or "Sculpt", and then a name.  Rudolf Rasch, who is a book historian, and Associate Professor of Musicology (Emeritus) at Utrecht University,  has kindly provided us with an explanation:-

"Script = scripsit = “he wrote”, normally this refers to the one who designed the engraving or made a drawing as a design for the engraving. This should refer to a title page only. [Typesetter is not a good description of this person.]

"Sculpt = sculpsit = “he sculpted”, refers to the engraver.

"If a title page is signed by a “sculpsit” one is not a priori certain that the same engraver did the music too. The best way to decide whether the engraver of the title page also engraved the music is too look at the form of the letters on the title page and on the music pages. In many situations title page and music are engraved by the same hand, but there may be cases where the publisher had different engravers work at the title page and the music.

"But please keep in mind: 18th-century indications are never full-proof. Never turn off common sense."
So now you know. Just a little advancement in knowledge every day ...!  One day you might be grateful to Whittaker for sharing this little piece of book history with you!

Friday, 15 May 2015

How old ARE Strathspeys and Reels?

If you don't mind coming in halfway through an ongoing discussion, you may find this paper of interest.  Michael Newton (University of North Carolina) continues a debate with Will Lamb (University of Edinburgh) about the origins of the strathspey and reel as dance and musical forms.
Read it here on Michael's page.

Keeping it Reel: the Origins of the Reel in a Scottish Gaelic Context, by Dr Michael Newton

B. B. King, "Beale Street Blues Boy" (and the Vinyl we Nearly Lost)

We heard the news today that blues legend B. B. King has died in Las Vegas aged 89.  Rather to our surprise, the Whittaker Library has just one vinyl record - "Six Silver Strings", which was his 50th album.  Not good enough?  

Actually, you're lucky to see this image - the album slipped down the back of a bookcase while Karen was taking a photo of it. The tale of its rescue is another story entirely!  Suffice to say, it is still in stock, safe and sound, and available for our staff and students to enjoy.  (Here.)

If you're a student or staff colleague at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, you could also visit Alexander Street Press's online Jazz Music Library, where you would find the "B. B. King Blues theme" on an album, Luminescence Disc 2.

Broadening your search, if you investigate the whole Alexander Street Press Music and Arts database, you'll find a number of recordings and plenty of literature about this famous artiste.

You can perform both these searches by searching the databases via the Whittaker Library Electronic Resources page.  Just goes to show that although it's easy enough to get by with Google, there is also a lot of premium information out there that you can access if your library subscribes to it.  So don't just think, "Google" (or even "Google plus") - think "Google AND my library's Electronic Resources" - you'll be surprised what you find.
We are the very helpful Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, here to assist our students and staff with their information needs. If our library members need any help with using our electronic resources, just ask! We now have a Library Chat facility on our catalogue homepage, too.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

What's in a Name? Labels Stick

Electronic Resources

at the Whittaker Library

We agonized.  We wondered if we were using the wrong term for all our lovely electronic resources.  So we designed a Survey Monkey survey (doesn't everyone?), and asked our students if things like Naxos, JSTOR and Digital Theatre Plus should be called something else instead.  

Like Digital Resources, or Digital Collections, or Online Resources, or "E" something-or-other, or even "Web Collections"?

Well, guess what?  Electronic Resources won, hands down.  49% of all respondents said so.  Maybe we've just shouted the benefits of our electronic resources so long and so loud that everyone has got used to the idea and can't imagine them being called anything else.

If you're a student or staff colleague at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and still wondering what this posting is about, then you need to visit this page, urgently!  Come and ask the library staff if you need anything explaining.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

New Library Stock: Søren Nils Eichberg

The Danish-German Composer Søren Nils Eichberg has arrived into the Whittaker Library in the form of three scores!
Berlin based Eichberg has had a diverse musical background that has impacted on his compositions which mix elements from across the history of western music. His output since 2001 includes more than 30 works including operas, symphonies, chamber works and solo pieces. In November 2014 the Royal Opera Covent Garden premiered his new "robot opera" Glare.
The three pieces included in our catalogue are:
Scherben: 19 etudes-posludes for solo piano (2002) - this piece was commissioned by the International Piano Competition Ferruccio Busoni as a compulsory piece for the finals 2002/2003. To get an idea of what some of the etudes sound like click here.  
Endorphin: concerto grosso for string quartet and chamber orchestra (2011) - in this piece Eichberg uses the Baroque form of the concerto to create interesting textures and contrasts. To listen to this piece click here.
Variationen uber ein Thema von Niccolo Paganini for solo cello (2005) which uses many different performance techniques throughout to challenge the player.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Are you (or are you going to be) an International Organist?

Today, the Whittaker Library received a brochure about the St Albans International Organ Festival.  The festival comes highly recommended by Choir and Organ, a magazine which does exactly what it says on the cover.  (Visit them here:-

The Festival runs from 4-18 July 2015, and you can find full details here:-

Moving with the times, you can also follow it on Twitter: @organ_festival, and there's a Facebook account to like, too.

Read about Harry Lauder and Scottish Popular Culture

We're always interested in the great Scottish performers of earlier generations, so when we found David Goldie's article, we thought we'd share it.  It might interest people here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Here's David Goldie's article, published at the University of Stirling in 2005:-

Friday, 8 May 2015

The Power of Music: Guardian article on Music and Learning Disabilities

A recent feature in The Guardian may be of interest to our students studying Community Music.  "Music can transform the lives of people with learning disabilities" appeared in The Guardian on 7th May 2015.

You can read more about music (and drama) for people with learning difficulties, in The Whittaker Library's rich collections.  Search by keywords, eg:-

Monday, 4 May 2015

Phantom Wheel-Tappers, Toe-Tappers, Podium Rappers ...

Waltzing Away at St Rollox
Steam Locomotive at the Riverside Museum

 Cataloguing away merrily in the library,  we've just found a link with Glasgow's industrial past in the unlikely context of Weber's Invitation to the Waltz!

An old set of parts in our orchestral collection was gifted to us when its original owners no longer needed it.  This set first belonged to Caledonian Railway Workshops Orchestra at St Rollox, before being gifted to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama when we were at St George's Place, Glasgow.   

Since then, St George's Place became Nelson Mandela Place, and more recently we moved to Renfrew Street in 1987, before changing our name to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in September 2011.

An interesting history! We wonder if any of the Caledonian Railway Workshops Orchestra members are still alive, after all this time ...

A Gentle Reminder from Allan Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd

A reference query today brought three bound copies together which have long been separated on the shelves.  We have a score, a draft programme, and a script for Robert Kemp's 1949 abridged version of Allan Ramsay's pastoral comedy, which was performed at the Edinburgh International Festival in August and September that year.

The music for the adaptation was by Cedric Thorpe Davie, a musicologist who for many years was Professor of Music at the University of St Andrews.  Indeed, the University Library there has extensive holdings of Davie's output.  Nonetheless, it is nice to know that we, too, have copies of this particular work, which was an outstanding part of poet Allan Ramsay's legacy to Scottish literature.

Naxos, Digital Theatre Plus, Oxford Music all on Whittaker Library website ...


iPad, laptop, PC or phone


We've made such a loud noise about our online subscriptions recently, that most students are well aware that we've got them!
... but we are still curious to find out if students prefer any particular term to describe all these databases.
  • "Electronic" or "Digital"?
  • "Online" or "Database"?
  • "Collections" or "Resources"?
So we're doing a one-question survey to see if any particular terminology is more popular.

Would you like to know what the answer is?  Watch this space! We'll have reached a conclusion by the end of this week!

Friday, 1 May 2015

What's in a Name? Electronic, Online, Digital Resources or What?

It may only be a little thing, but we're trying to get our terminology right. We have all these subscriptions to electronic information resources, but we're not sure which words are most meaningful to the most of our readers. So, we're doing a one-question survey. Today we experimented with the iPad - behind the scenes - but watch out for next week! We'll let you what the outcome is!