Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Brush Up Your Study Skills

We've just catalogued a quantity of new study skills guides and books about teaching/education. Check the library's Recent Additions page!

The Pocket Study Skills series is particularly appealing!

The Real Deal: the late Christopher Hogwood's Film about Barenreiter Urtext

Music students often ask for Urtext editions - they're generally considered the best editions, with the most authentic reading of the musical text.  Did you know the late Christopher Hogwood (1941-2014) recorded a film about Barenreiter Urtext?  It's still on the Barenreiter website, and lasts less than 18 minutes.  You might like to see his insights into what's special about Urtext.

View the film on the Barenreiter website.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Finding an E-book that's on your RCS Reading List

If you're a student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and you've been recommended an e-book, do you know how to find it?

1. Find the book

The reading lists are all on Moodle, so there should be links to the books.  However, we do have two kinds of e-book. It's really quite straightforward:-
  • E-Books we've bought singly, and catalogued like ordinary print books. There will be a link to the book, once you've found it in our catalogue.
  • E-books we've bought in "bundles" from the publisher.  So if a book is published as part of the  Oxford University Press bundle (for example), you might need to go to our website and click on the link for E-books, THEN on the link for Oxford University Press Scholarship Online.  Lastly, search for the book using their search facility.
2. Get access to the book

If you're on RCS premises, you may get straight in without needing to input your login details, depending on the publisher.  Some do require you to login anyway.

If you're offsite, you will definitely have to login.  

Remember, our institutional access is called Shibboleth (you might encounter that name) AND NOT Athens.  Don't click on any links marked Athens.  Once you've clicked on Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, you then use your normal login - the one you use to logon to our computers.

 3. If it all goes wrong ...

  • If you've accessed a book via our catalogue, then you should have no problem.  
  • If you've accessed a book via our e-book page and then via the publisher's website, then you have access to the book so long as it's actually in the bundle that they allow us to use.  (Sometimes, we're only allowed selected parts of their back catalogue, not every single book in it.)
  • If you've gone straight to the publisher's catalogue AND NOT via our catalogue or e-book pages, then you may miss the appropriate login prompts.  Try our catalogue and e-book pages and see if that works.  If you still have difficulty, please ask us!  The library contact details are on our website.

Finding Scottish Fiddle Tunes Just Got Even Easier

M1450 - Fiddlers' Heaven

Last week, we posted a list of some recommended fiddle collections, along with some great online resources.  Read the posting here.

This week, we went one further.  All the fiddle music has been reclassified so that it lives in one glorious long sequence on our music shelves.  All nice and tidy, alphabetically and easy to find.  So ...  what are you waiting for?!

Check the Catalogue here. 

A Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive

3000 Victorian Shakespeare Images!

With the blessings of its creator, we're pleased to share details of a very interesting new archive, created at the University of Cardiff.

Back in late August Michael Goodman launched his PhD project, The Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive ( It contains over 3000 illustrations from four of the most significant illustrated editions of Shakespeare's works in the Victorian period. All images have been tagged bibliographically and iconographically and there are numerous pathways through the archive.

More about the project:- a blogpost on
Introduction to the project on

Michael Goodman is a Research Assistant at Cardiff University's Digital Humanities Network School of English, Communication and Philosophy.

  • Cardiff University John Percival Building Colum Drive Cardiff  CF10 3EU
  • on Twitter @CUdigitalnet
  • Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive on Twitter:- @mikeygoodman1

How Confident are you with your Dialects?

Karen did something unusual last week - by sharing a "Drama" database with trad music students (students of traditional music, that is, not traditional students!), she forged new connections between the Schools of Drama and Music.

Our trad musicians were intrigued that different accents were recorded for the use of acting students.  Who knows? They may even get their own accents recorded! 

Meanwhile, let's share the words of the creators of Medea, so you can see what it's all about:-

What is MEDEA?

MEDEA is the new accents and dialects resource from the Centre for Voice in Performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Our unique identity as Scotland’s leading Institution for the Performing Arts attracts students from all over the world allowing us to record an amazing range of accents and dialects of English as it is currently spoken. MEDEA is a living document and the database will continue to grow with new recordings added on a regular basis – everything from Latvia to Liverpool, Belfast to Barcelona and beyond.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Fiddle Music on the Move

M1450 for Dance Tunes

To clarify, this concerns our traditional Scottish and Irish fiddle music, not our classical violin music.  

Don't panic! We've just moved a few of our fiddle scores, so they're now all in one place. And very impressive it looks, too. It should make things very much easier for our fiddlers and their tutors.

After all - we're your caring, sharing, ever-helpful Whittaker Library, here to support our students and staff in their learning and teaching

Friday, 18 November 2016

£10K for British or UK-Resident Composer / Composition Student to Study in USA

Are you British or a UK resident? And a composer?  It's your lucky day!

The Bliss Trust has sent us leaflets about this incredible scholarship:-

2017 Arthur Bliss Scholarship for Study in the USA

The Bliss Trust is offering up to £10K for a composer or student composer to study at a conservatoire or university in America.  The deadline for applications is 21 February 2017. Click on the Bliss Trust link and go to the News tab for full details.  If you have further queries, there's a Contact tab on the website.

(Curious about Arthur Bliss? We have plenty of his works in the Whittaker Library! Look ...)

Your Improvising Brain (a TED talk by Charles Limb)

We thought you might find this TED talk interesting - it's a doctor talking about what your musical brain gets up to when you're improvising!  Click the link to view the video.

Charles Limb - Your Brain on Improv

Another Day in the Life of a Music Librarian

We regularly get invitations to speak to groups of students about library and research resources. (Karen thinks consultations in Waterstones' Costa outlet would be nice, but our seminar rooms are probably more convenient ...)

Today, it was the turn of the third year traditional musicians. We were talking about resources that might help with their forthcoming projects.  So ... first we talked about the projects, and then about the resources ...

  • we looked at our e-resources via the library web-pages, and talked about how to log in from outside the RCS campus or when a particular resource requires it (such as Scran)
  • we explored Oxford Music Online, JSTOR, Scran, Medea (the RCS dialect resource) and others
  • We talked about referencing, what Harvard referencing is, how to keep track of your reading, and online ways of keeping your references safe, eg RefME, Mendeley and Zotero. (Or a regularly-updated Word document!) 
  • We also looked at the RCS new portal, and the Whittaker Library portal pages (you can find them by clicking on Student Support, or just click here.)
  • and the specialist subject gateways on our library portal pages ... lots of good stuff on the music pages!
  • We explored HMS.Scot, and the National Library of Scotland's Digital Gallery
  • And we talked about the great collections of Scottish music at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen, the National Library of Scotland, the A K Bell public library in Perth and the Wighton College in Dundee Central Library
  • And just mentioned some of the protocols of visiting rare books collections - pencils, not pens, bags in lockers (and booking what you want to see in advance, in some cases!)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Grants for Ethnomusicologists

British Forum for Ethnomusicology

Money for doctoral ethnomusicology students! Click the link and read all about it. We spotted this on Twitter today - the BFE Fieldwork Grants Scheme.

Finding Scottish Fiddle Music in the Whittaker Library


All our collections are in our catalogue, and they all live together on the shelves at M1450.  (It's the number for dance tunes).  We have loads of Scottish music, and the following collections are some that our RCS tutors recommend.   Numbers of copies are correct at the time of writing (17 November 2016).  If you can’t find what you’re looking for, then please do ask! 


Don’t forget the Digital!

There are some key websites where you’ll find masses of material:-


Real Paper Copies

  1. Athole Collection 1 & 2 (we have 5 lending sets and one in special collections) 
  2. Simon Fraser Collection (5 copies) (also online at IMSLP)
  3. Fiddle Music of Scotland (Hunter) (3 copies and ordering a fourth)
  4. Harp & Claymore (Skinner)  (3 copies)
  5. Highland Collections (5 copies)
  6. Patrick MacDonald Highland Vocal Airs  (2 copies + a photocopy. Ordering 2 more.)
  7. Gow’s Repository (1 copy) (also online at HMS.Scot AND NLS Digital Gallery)
  8. The Marshall Collections (William Marshall) (4 copies)
  9. Mackintosh Collections (Robert  Mackintosh) (4 copies) (also online at Highland Music Trust)
  10. Skye Collection / Gesto Collection   (1 copy, ordering 3 more).  (Also online at
  11. Gesto Collection – We’re ordering 3 new copies.  (Also online at NLS Digital Gallery)
  12. Standard Settings of Pipe Music / Scots Guards (We have 1 and 2, and we’re ordering 2 copies of book 3)

Musicians! Win up to 10K with the Royal Over-Seas League

We got notification that Encore is partnering with the ROSL in promoting this major music competition.  We're sharing the details here - too good a chance to miss!
"As a champion of musical excellence, Encore is delighted to partner with the Royal Over-Seas League this year for their 65th Annual Music Competition. Now is your chance to apply for one of the ​UK’s most prestigious classical music prizes​! 
"The competition offers more than £75,000 in awards with a £10,000 first prize for solo performers and two chamber ensemble awards of £10,000. The winners of the Wind & Percussion, Singers, Strings, and Keyboard solo sections and the accompanist prize receive £5,000 each. The competition is open to exceptional young musicians and ensembles, up to the age of 30 who come from any Commonwealth country.
Former prizewinners include Jacqueline du Pre, John Lill, Melvyn Tan, Piers Lane, Jonathan Lemalu, Juliette Bausor and Amy Dickson, to name but a few.
This year for the first time, the prelim round will be judged by video, so start preparing now! The closing date for applications is the 4th January 2017. Find out more and apply here.  Good luck!"

Monday, 14 November 2016

Day in the Life of a Music Librarian

Well .. half a day, really.  So, what do you imagine music librarians get up to?  

This afternoon saw a quick question about our students accessing online resources from outside the Conservatoire - and a quick answer.  RCS staff and students need to go to our Library web-pages, click on the appropriate e-resources link, and then pick their chosen e-resource (or e-book, or e-journal).  Use Shibboleth institutional access from there - pick the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, then your usual RCS login.  We don't use Athens - so avoid anything mentioning it.

Then came two two individual consultations about Karen's favourite things.  First, a fairly in-depth discussion about saving citations, then using the Harvard referencing style, and creating a bibliography.  The Whittaker Library has guidelines about Harvard referencing on our part of the RCS Portal.  (Find them here.  If you need more, just Google "Harvard Referencing", and you'll find plenty of other guides!)

If you're referencing a lot of non-standard formats, the best advice is to find an example for something approximately close to your reference, then tweak the example to fit your purposes, making sure the author's name and date of the source are listed first.  If you're referencing something online, then you'll need to give a hyperlink, and also the date you accessed the item.  All this is in our guide.


The next query was back to e-resources again, but this time about content rather than access.  We talked about finding info about specific musical works.  Naxos sleeve notes are useful.  JSTOR can be useful, too. Oxford Music Online is better for facts about the works' composition dates, opus numbers, where they stand in the composers' output, etc, but may not necessarily give you anything in-depth about individual works.  

So, having delved briefly into online resources, we also looked at CD and vinyl sleeve notes - plenty more info in that direction!  And good old Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music.  It may be old, but could be a good starting place.

Friday, 11 November 2016

William Alwyn and his Flute (Cambridge Concert)

Cambridge University Library is celebrating its 600th birthday, and the University Music Library is joining in the fun on Monday 14th November, with a concert of William Alwyn's music. Alwyn's flute is also on display.  (You know how this blog somehow keeps coming back to flute music, what with David Nicholson's bequest, the Dundonian James Simpson manuscripts, and our recent acquisition of architect Campbell Douglas's flute manuscript...)

Up here in decidedly chilly Glasgow, it's probably too far for most of us to contemplate a flying visit at short notice, but we thought you might be still interested in the blogpost about Alwyn and his chamber music.  Read it here on the MusiCB3 blog.

  • Check our own holdings of Alwyn's music in the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - here.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

What does a Protein Sound Like? (Yes, Protein not Pre-Teen)

Music Librarian Catherine Small has found this fascinating article for you in one of our e-resources.  If you're a member of the RCS community, you can read this online - but might need to login if you're off-campus.

Lucy Goodchild van Hilten reports on a paper in the scientific journal, Heliyon. She reveals that science has met music in the most amazing way!  "Red" proteins are represented as being higher pitched than "turquoise" ones in these weird videoclips ...
Molecular melodies can reveal information about proteins in technique developed by composer and chemical biologist

Group Presentations and Solitary Composers?

Remember, remember, in early December ...

Here in the Whittaker Library, we have a huge spreadsheet to help us remember when different classes have assignment deadlines.  For example, there will soon be group presentations about music history and music in society, whilst the electroacoustic composition elective students will be submitting their work with accompanying documentation.

The library has shelves full of conventional books, web-pages full of e-resources, and well-qualified music librarians to help our students find suitable materials for their assignments.  Admittedly, we can't do the compositions, or give the presentations! But we have plenty of literature on compositional techniques, oodles of materials on music history or music in society - and can probably also source resources on how to give presentations!  We can also advise on referencing or compiling a bibliography.

So what are you waiting for?  Just ask!

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Focus: Scottish Traditional Music (by Simon McKerrell, RCS Alumnus)

We were proud to add a new book to the Whittaker Library stock today:-

Focus: Scottish Traditional Music, by Simon McKerrell (2016)
Simon got his PhD at RSAMD (as we were in 2005); he has since taught at RSAMD, then Sheffield, and now the University of Newcastle, where he is Head of Music.

Friday, 4 November 2016

19th Century Flute Manuscripts: Glasgow and Dundee

The Whittaker Library has recently acquired a small mid-19th century flute manuscript.  Since it originated in Glasgow, we like to think we repatriated it!  Karen has worked out the identity of the original owner/compiler - a big Glasgow name, as it happens - and discovered that the building where he both lived and had his architect's practice, still stands today.  All very exciting - watch this space.  (It isn't even in the catalogue yet, but it soon will be!)

It's particularly exciting because it means we can compare it with James Simpson's three flute manuscripts from Dundee - they're only 15 or so years earlier, but quite different in character.  They've been in the Whittaker Library special collections for some years now.  Read our earlier blog about them here.  Or read Karen's article in the RMA Research Chronicle:-

McAulay, Karen E., Nineteenth-Century Dundonian Flute Manuscripts Found at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle vol.38 (2005) pp.99-141.  (Stable URL:

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Access Nick Hern Books via Drama Online

The Whittaker Library at RCS now has access to Nick Hern Books on Drama Online! 

Nick Hern Books is one of the UK’s leading specialist performing arts publishers, with a vast collection of plays, screenplays and theatre books in their catalogue.  This is additional to our access to the Bloomsbury and Faber Collection, which is Drama Online's main play collection

Additionally ...

  • Need a monologue for an audition?
  • Have a specific cast size in mind?
These are further useful functionalities that you may not be aware of - access them from the Drama Online homepage.