Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Monday, 29 June 2015

Musical Relics of Georgian Glasgow

We've just catalogued a couple of very old bound volumes of music.  The original owner (or owners) bought a number of pieces of sheet music, and had them bound into big volumes.  How they came to our library is a mystery.  One has a very early shelf-mark, and is stamped "Royal Scottish Academy of Music" - strangely enough, the original cataloguer must have intended that it could be borrowed if desired!

The other has no library markings at all.  Both have a preponderance of Glasgow publishers' names, so it looks as though the original owner probably lived in the west of Scotland or Glasgow itself.

Curious to see where A. MacGoun and J. McFadyen's shops were (30 and 35 Miller Street, just about opposite one another), Karen headed off to Merchant City at lunchtime.  

The Regency buildings no longer exist at that part of the street, just off Argyle Street - instead, it's the back of Primark and T K Maxx.  What a disappointment!  (However, if you're a student living in Liberty House, you're just along from McFadyen's.  A local music shop would've been handy, wouldn't it?!)

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Every Picture Tells a Story (and History)

We were donated some old music the other day.  At first glance, it was rubbish - old and tatty, probably ten-a-penny.  Both pieces were published by Bayley & Ferguson, a music publisher with bases in Glasgow and London.

Reading a Score (not your usual score-reading!)

But look again.  'A Fairy Croon' was published in 1918.  That's the era of Hugh Roberton and the Orpheus Singers, one of the big names of choral music history in Glasgow.  This particular piece, scored for soprano solo and female voices, isn't a Roberton one - it was arranged by Julian Nesbitt, a name completely unknown to us today.  Nonetheless, it's still distinctly in the 'Celtic Twilight' vein.  Today we know it as 'Dream Angus'.  

The other sheet, 'Scottish Part Songs, no.83' is set for mixed choir.  It contains four song settings, beginning with 'Caller herrin'.  That's a Scottish folk song that is still quite well known.  Although ... we call it a folk song, but it isn't really.  Far from being plucked from the rural hedgerows and oral tradition, we learn from this score that Lady Caroline Nairne wrote the words, and Nathaniel Gow Junior composed the tune.  'Folk?' 'Traditional?'  Hardly!  Strange things happen to 'folk songs' when they're scored for SATB choir, too.  Sometimes they become almost hymn-like, and sometimes the harmonies are as thick and sludgy as golden syrup!

One last comment about 'Scottish Part Songs'.  If there were four songs in no.83, there were plainly hundreds in the series.  This one's in conventional staff music notation, but it says there was also a Tonic Sol-Fa edition.  Those were the days when choral singing was much more popular, and Tonic Sol-Fa brought singing and sight-reading within the capabilities of people who couldn't read music.

So much musical and social history in two scruffy pieces of sheet music.  We might keep them, anyway!

Free Digitized Scottish Music! Visit the NLS Digital Gallery ...

We just thought we'd remind you about this great resource, hosted by the National Library of Scotland to highlight some of their precious heritage ....

The Digital Gallery has a huge variety of digitised materials, free to download.  Scottish music is just one of the resources on offer.  There's a Verdi collection too.  Step outside the world of music, and there's ten times more.

Be Inspired

 Take a look for yourself - there's bound to be something to inspire you!

A Composer Called Sorabji

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji is perhaps not a well-known name. However, there's an archive dedicated to his music, and digital access is now possible, so maybe this might attract more interest in his work.*

We've just had a message forwarded to us from the Sorabji Archive, which is informative:-

"We would like to inform you that The Sorabji Archive recently made all of its material available as .pdf files; previously, we had supplied our material as paper copies only.

For details about The Sorabji Archive, please visit .

For details of what we supply, please visit .

"We look forward to hearing from you and to being of assistance to you in the future."

Alistair Hinton, Curator/Director
The Sorabji Archive
Warlow Farm House
Eaton Bishop
* There's a biographical essay on the Sorabji Archive website.  Here's a taster:-

"Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji was born in Chingford, Essex, England on 14 August 1892; his father was a Zoroastrian Parsi civil engineer and his mother English ... He spent most of his life in England. From his early ’teens he developed an insatiable appetite for the latest developments in contemporary European and Russian music and went to great lengths to obtain the latest scores of such composers as Mahler, Debussy, Schönberg, Skryabin, Rakhmaninov and others ...  Of an independent and uniquely curious nature, it is perhaps unsurprising given the pre-War English environment that his education, both general and musical, was mostly private. 

"For a composer as prolific as he was soon to become, he was an unusually late developer and his voracity in absorbing all the most recent trends in other people’s music seems to have excluded from his mind the idea of making his own until he reached his twenties."

Thursday, 18 June 2015

On This Day, 18 June 1815 Battle of Waterloo. Also Musical Anniversaries!

The historic Battle of Waterloo is obviously on everyone's minds today.  For example, St Andrews University Library Special Collections have pulled together an excellent, historical blogpost:

A Complete Victory Gained with great Bloodshed

In our own library stock here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, we have our own take on the Battle of Waterloo - here are some highlights:-

Friday, 12 June 2015

Music Graduate? Great Chance to Work in a Music Library!

We have been asked to share details of this great opportunity at the Britten Pears Foundation:-
Graduate Trainee: Collections
£21,848 for 12 months full-time, fixed term contract

The Britten–Pears Foundation, based in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, holds a Designated collection comprising the archives of composer Benjamin Britten. We are looking for a Graduate Trainee to support the front line work of the current collections staff. 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 and working with our volunteers. Enquiries about the post can be directed to Nicholas Clark

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 collections staff in the use of the archive management system, and in the many aspects of work in a specialist 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 and/or art would also be an advantage.

To apply please:
  • download, complete and save the application form and equal opportunities form available from the Foundation website (using a current version of the free Adobe Reader; NB you will not be able to save your text if you open the form in your web browser - please use Adobe Reader);
  • write a covering email;
  • e-mail your application form with a completed Equal Opportunities form to Anna Hunter no later than Friday 26 June 2015, including the words Graduate Trainee application in the e-mail title.

Interviews will be held on the 10 July 2015.
Nicholas Clark
Britten–Pears Foundation
The Red House
Golf Lane
Suffolk, IP15 5PZ
Telephone 01728 451700

Friday, 5 June 2015

Conservatoire Embraces "Books Back Friday"


Our readers have obligingly been returning piles of library books and music all day Friday - all week, actually -  and we're very grateful!

Graduating students need to get books back before they graduate, and all other staff and students (apart from the Masters students finishing in September) need to check existing loans back in before they can borrow for the summer.

Did you miss the deadline?  The returns box is always outside the Whittaker Library, and we're just as grateful this week as we were last!  Thank you, one and all.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Keeping Friendly With the Library Team

Whether you drop them in the box outside the Whittaker Library (make sure all the parts are there), or come and hand them in ...

Friday 5th June 2015 is Books Back Day!

Except for Masters students with a course ending in September, all our students and staff need to return their library books (music, CDs, and DVDs too) on Friday 5th June.  Once accounts are clear, returning students and staff can borrow for the summer.
We open at 8.45 am and close at 5 pm, so we're expecting a busy day!  Books with a smile are even better, of course!  It doesn't take much to keep us happy.

If you use Folk Music in your Teaching ...

The English Folk Dance and Song Society website has a great resource bank with materials which could help you.

Even if you're more into Scottish than English folk music, there's still useful information there.  We particularly liked the Jargon Buster.  There's much more there than just musical terms, as it covers folk traditions, costume details and other intriguing facts.  (For example, if you go busking, then technically you're "cadging" rather than begging, ie, you're getting money in exchange for providing entertainment, and not just because you begged for it ... a useful distinction!)

Monday, 1 June 2015

Robyn Stapleton CD is in Whittaker Library! Fickle Fortune ...

Young Traditional Musician of the Year, Robyn Stapleton

The day has come!  Robyn's first CD, Fickle Fortune, has reached the Whittaker Library, and we're so excited.  Who will be first to borrow it?  It'll hit the new book display shelves later today ...

Karen listened to her own copy three times last night - it's that good!