Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Talking about Scottish Music - Musica Scotica 23-24 April 2016 Call for Papers

If you study, play or compose Scottish music - here's your chance to join in the conversation.  The next Musica Scotica Conference takes place in Stirling 23-24 April 2016, and the Call for Papers is now live.

For more details please visit the Musica Scotica website:-

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Great News - Colonial Music Databases back up and running

We're sharing this news because the Colonial Music Institute hosts a lot of really useful information, if you're interested in historic tunebooks.  For a while their databases were unavailable, but we heard this week that they're now restored to working order.

Quoting from the horse's mouth ...

Great news!  5 of 6 databases are now back up. They are best found via:  It has been nearly 6 months since these databases were taken down by online hacking, such a senseless loss.  But now they are back up, these five:-
  • Early American Songsters, 1734-1820: An Index
  • Dance Figures Index: English Country Dances, 1651-1827
  • Dance Figures Index: American Country Dances, 1730-1810
  • The Dancing Master, 1651-1728: An Illustrated Compendium
  • Early American Secular Music and Its European Sources, 1589-1839: An Index
  • And the last, The Performing Arts in Early American Newspapers, 1690-1783 should be up again soon.
It's a shame we've been without these powerful academic tools, but thank goodness (and the hard-working folks at the Country Dance and Song Society!) they're back.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Edith Piaf's Persona (blogged by RILM)

You know how we like the blog that RILM curates - in keeping with their mission to provide us with access to all kinds of music information, the blog itself takes an eclectic look at a wide range of musical topics.

Edith Piaf is the latest focus.  Read the blogpost here.

Registered staff and students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland can use the RILM abstract service to find quality information for essays and assignments.  Access it via our E-Resources page, and don't forget to use the institutional login if you're off-campus.

Friday, 18 December 2015

See and hear Muckle Flugga - Rory Boyle's Prizewinning Brass Band Piece


Wind Band / Brass Band category of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors 2015 Awards.

We were delighted to hear our RCS colleague composer Rory Boyle has been awarded a prestigious award for his brass band piece, Muckle Flugga.

And we're equally delighted - very grateful indeed - that he has kindly donated a score of the piece to the Whittaker library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  It has been catalogued already and will soon hit the library shelves!  

You can hear it on Soundcloud here, via the Scottish Music Centre.

Out this week on Digital Theatre Plus - Quinny Sacks On Choreography, and Peter Mumford On Lighting

Ibsen Transcripts, anyone?  Quinny Sacks talks about choreography, and Peter Mumford about lighting, in the next exclusive content from Digital Theatre Plus.  It's available to our Royal Conservatoire of Scotland community using our Whittaker Library subscription to this valuable resource.  If you want informed content about the practicalities of making theatrical performances, this is your first stop.

Our registered staff and students can access it via our Library and IT website.  For off-campus use, our staff and students can request login details from the library.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Shakespeare Exhibition in London 2016

Shakespeare enthusiasts who find themselves in London between February and May 2016 may find this forthcoming exhibition really interesting.

By Me William Shakespeare: a Life in Writing

It is organised by the National Archives and Kings College London as part of Shakespeare400, and there will be digital installations aplenty!

3 Feb - 29 May 2016, Tue - Sun 10.00 - 18.00 (until 20.00 Thu)

Venue: Inigo Rooms, Somerset House (East Wing), London.  Follow the link to find out more.

Friday, 11 December 2015

We're still here for a few more days this year! Whittaker Library Opening Hours

Winter Break

We're open 9-5 Monday 14th to Friday 18th December.
The Week Before Christmas:-

We're open 9-2 Monday 21 December
We're open 9-5 Tuesday
& Wednesday 22nd & 23rd December.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is closed Christmas Eve to Monday 4th January (Inclusive)

We reopen on Tuesday 5 January 2016 , when full trimester hours resume (including evenings and weekends)

What IS traditional? And what was 'traditional' in times past?

Talking about 'tradition' fast leads you into philosophical arguments about whose tradition it
Image from Wikipedia
is, and which era's traditions you mean!  A non-musical example would be the tradition of putting up Christmas trees.  Did we always do it?  Not before Victorian times!

Back to music, though - the best way to find out about what was traditional in days gone by, is to look at historical resources.   These are some useful ones for students involved with traditional Scottish music:-

William Tytler of Woodhouselee was an antiquarian who wrote about Scottish music. He wrote a very famous essay, A Dissertation on the Scottish Music (1779 and republished in later books) – find it on here.  We have commented on the Dissertation on this blog before - see here.

And here are some particularly interesting early collections to look at - we have them all in the Whittaker Library.  Karen 'liberated' them for a couple of very lively seminars with our first and second years this morning, but all the books are back in the library again now.  Look at the paratext (prefaces, footnotes, indices etc) as well as the musical text - it's often very informative:-

  • Joseph MacDonald – Compleat Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe (c.1760) 
  • Patrick McDonald A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs [“The Patrick McDonald Collection”] (1784)     
  • Joseph Ritson – Scotish Song Vols.1-2 (1794)
  • William Dauney – Ancient Scotish Melodies   (1838)
  • George Farquhar Graham - Songs of Scotland Vols 1-3  (1848-9)
  • Ludwig van Beethoven – Collected Edition 11/1
  • George Thomson – A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs for the Voice   
  • The Language of Folk Vols 1&2 (Faber, 2013)  
  • Marjory Kennedy Fraser’s collections

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Rory Boyle wins British Composer Award

Of course, we at the Whittaker Library recognised Rory's talents long ago.  He's one of our Royal Conservatoire of Scotland composition teachers.
We're very proud of him! And the CD listed above is on order for the library collection ...

Monday, 7 December 2015

Define "Tradition"? How long have you got!

It's a huge question.  However, old favourites often tell us a lot about how things were played in the past.

The Whittaker Library is glad they've got this old book by William C Honeyman in the stacks:-
The strathspey, reel and hornpipe tutor: being a concise analysis of the peculiar method of bowing these compositions, with numerous examples, and a selection of 100 favourite strathspeys and reels, and 53 favourite hornpipes, with the bowing and fingering marked throughout exactly as these should be played.  Ask for it at the desk - click here for the shelfmark
Now, we've mentioned this book before - you might like to find out more about it.  Just click here.   And we hope to get a modern reprint soon, so that there will be a copy students can actually borrow.

Traditional Fiddle Music of the Scottish Borders

We got another new book!  Karen heard the compiler and editor, Peter Shepheard, give a talk about it at the recent Scottish Fiddle Festival in Edinburgh.

Traditional fiddle music of the Scottish Borders, from the playing of Tom Hughes of Jedburgh: a player's guide to regional style bowing techniques, repertoire and dances
 Here's where you find it in the Whittaker Library.

Useful Resources for Music Undergraduate Presentations (at Your Fingertips!)

Music in History - Group Presentations

Are you an RCS student giving a group presentation in the next week or so? Or an RCS lecturer?  If you can log on to the internet, you can stream recordings from our Naxos or Classical Music Library subscriptions.  That might be useful if you're wanting to play examples of what you're talking about.

Come to think of it, our streamed recordings could be useful while you're preparing your presentation, too.  Want to compare recordings? Not a problem.

Visit the library website and look for the Electronic Resources page, here.  (

If you're on campus, just click the Naxos 'internal', or Classical Music Library link, and you'll get straight in. If you're using them at home, there's an external link for Naxos or use the single Classical Music Library link.  Either way, you'll need to login:-

  • For Naxos - ask at the library desk for username and password.
  • For Classical Music Library - use a process called 'Shibboleth' - find RCS from a list of institutions, click on it, then use your usual RCS login. 
Come and ask if you need more info, or use library chat from the catalogue homepage.  

We are the ever-helpful Whittaker Library, here to help our community of performing artists with their music, drama, ballet, film and technical production info requirements.