Whose Book is it Anyway? A View from Elsewhere on Publishing, Copyright and Creativity

Sitting feeling somewhat sorry for myself with the aches-and-pains that follow a Covid booster vaccination (yes, I’m grateful really, but … owch!) – I sat bolt upright when I spotted this open access book title on social media. It looks irresistible, quite apart from the delight of finding it is free! I shall add it to our bibliography page, and find time to delve into it at the earliest opportunity. How did I not stumble across it earlier?

Whose Book Is it Anyway? A View from Elsewhere on Publishing, Copyright and Creativity, ed. Janis Jefferies and Sarah Kember. (Open Book Publishers, 2019)

All the ISBNs, and other bibliographical data are on the page I’ve linked to above.

Interdisciplinary Research, Anyone?

When I graduated with my PhD in 2009, there was a flurry of interest in me as a ‘mature’ postgraduate, and my ‘portfolio career’. Only one problem there – it isn’t a portfolio career! I work in one place, full-time, on a full-time salary. I’m not self-employed, nor do I do a little bit of this and that for different employers. It’s correct that I spend 0.7 of my time as an academic librarian, and 0.3 of my time as a researcher. If I had any aspirations at the start of my librarianship career, it was to be a scholar librarian of some kind, and as you see, that IS where I’ve ended up. I don’t claim that it exactly reflects who I am now – I suspect I’m more scholar than librarian, in my head.

So, if I don’t consider myself a good example of a portfolio career, then here’s another conundrum: do I do interdisciplinary research? If at some times I’m writing about librarianship, and at other times I’m writing about nineteenth to twentieth-century music publishing, does that make my research interdisciplinary? I guess it probably does, even if the librarianship and the music publishing seldom meet! I’m often contemplating the social context of whatever I’m researching. And just occasionally – like my recent article about Clarinda Webster – I manage to mention librarianship, music publishing AND social history in one fell swoop.

At other times, my research finds its way into the librarianship in a quite natural way. This week, the RCS Library is having a series of events throwing a Spotlight on Diversity. I’ve written a short blogpost about Scottish Women Composers as one of my contributions. The names I’ve suggested are just a start – and I haven’t attempted to include every Scottish woman who wrote a tune, because I’m assuming our students are basically looking for recital repertoire. My research has led me to several more women who made their own unique contribution, but they’ll get a mention in the book I’m currently writing. Their pieces aren’t necessarily recital repertoire, or even easily sourced today.

See my Scottish Women Composers in the Spotlight library blogpost.

Read about Song-Collector Alexander Campbell, in ‘Thirsty Work and Other Heritages of Folk Song’ Conference Papers

I’ve just received my own copy of a new publication by Ballad Partners, Thirsty Work and Other Heritages of Folk Song, which contains my most recent Alexander Campbell article: ‘Alexander Campbell’s Song Collecting Tour: ‘The Classic Ground of our Celtic Homer’. There’s a section on Campbell and his musicianship – an entirely new angle which I spent some time contemplating during lockdown.

The book is Ballad Partners’ third book of Folk Song Studies.

I have just catalogued a copy for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Library – I listed the contents there, so I’ll repeat the list here for your interest. If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, please visit the Ballad Partners’ website. (I’m unconnected with the publishers – I am just one of the contributors!)

CONTENTS

Thirsty work: traditional singing on BBC Radio, 1940-41 / Katie Howson — From Tyneside to Wearside: in search of Sunderland songs / Eileen Richardson — Sam Bennett’s songs / Elaine Bradtke — Newman and Company of Dartmouth and the song tradition of Newfoundland’s South Coast / Anna Kearney Guigne — Railwaymen’s charity concerts, 1888-89 / Colin Bargery — Picturing protest: prints to accompany political songs / Patience Young — ‘That is all the explanation I am at liberty to give in print’: Richard Runciman Terry and Songs from the Sea / Keith Gregson — Drawing from the well : Emma Dusenberry and her old songs of the Ozarks / Eleanor Rodes — Alexander Campbell’s song collecting tour : ‘The Classic Ground of our Celtic Homer’ / Karen McAulay — ‘Don’t let us be strangers’ – William Montgomerie’s fieldwork recordings of Scottish farmworkers, 1952 / Margaret Bennett — ‘No maid in history’s pages’ : the female rebel hero in the Irish ballad tradition / Therese McIntyre — Who is speaking in songs? / David Atkinson

Trains, Trossachs, Choirs and the Council: Neilston Parish Church’s First Organist

I have contributed an article about the first organist of Neilston Parish Church, to the Glasgow Society of Organists for the September issue of The Glasgow Diapason: Newsletter. It doesn’t really relate to my own musicological research, apart from its connection with amateur music-making in the West of Scotland in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, but I thought I’d share it here as well, since I had a lot of fun writing it!

Trains, Trossachs, Choirs and the Council

Dr Karen E McAulay, Neilston Parish Church

Moving from an Allen organ in a post-war church, to Neilston’s historical tracker action instrument, I’m enjoying the new playing experience, and change of scenery getting there.  My research interests in Scottish music history mean I’m also intrigued by the church’s long past.  Although not everyone is enthralled by local history, I love finding out what mattered to people in their everyday lives, and I wondered what I could find out about the very first organist. As you’ll see, someone – the organist himself? – kept the local press well-informed about his activities.

Neilston Parish Church Organ

Neilston got its Conacher organ in 1888, when the church decided their three-year old harmonium wasn’t sufficiently supportive of congregational singing.  Two ladies of the congregation made generous donations, the balance being found by the rest of the congregation. The organist, master grocer Hugh Gibson Millar (1859-1932), had inaugurated the harmonium, and now led a ‘select choir’ in a grand Friday inaugural musical entertainment, accompanied by Mr Fraser of Queen’s Park Church.  The new organ occasioned a new pulpit being built, the old one banished to the manse!  (The old manse has been demolished, and the pulpit disposed of before living memory.  Maybe when the bachelor incumbent was promoted heavenward, his successor didn’t want this extra furniture.)

Neilston village had not only a flourishing church choir, but also a Tonic Sol-Fa Society.  (Despite classically-trained musicians regarding the sol-fa system disparagingly, it was undeniably the means of many working and not-so-working class singers learning to perform music, at home or in a choir, from the late 19th century well into the 20th.)  Some people were in both, causing problems when the same day was double-booked for a concert in December 1888.  There was a flurry of angry “letters to the Editor” about this, with Neilston Parish Church Musical Association wading into the fray!

Millar was the son of a Kilmarnock shoemaker.  Marrying in Kilmarnock, he lived and worked as a grocer in Glasgow for a couple of years, but they moved to Gertrude Place in Barrhead sometime between 1881-1883.  By 1896, he had shops in Barrhead and Neilston, and the following year he was advertising for a boy to work in an ironmonger’s shop.

Ambitious and undoubtedly talented, he got a Mus. Bac. from the University of Trinity College, Toronto in 1896.  This external qualification (early distance learning?!) was discontinued in 1897, and the University merged with the University of Toronto not long after. By the 1920s, degrees like his were dismissed as bogus by many. Nonetheless, the press reported significant exam successes by his pupils. (Millar’s degree was reported by the press in connection with any musical activity, but not with his trade.)  The year he got his degree, one of his female pupils excelled in practical and ‘Musical Knowledge’ exams with Trinity College London, whilst in 1901 Robert Craig of Barrhead got top marks in Musical Knowledge, and was reported as studying organ, harmony, counterpoint and music history with Millar. 

The newspaper reported a Christmas service led by Millar and the choir in 1898, including what was performed.  The choral items later appear in the United Free Church of Scotland Anthem Book (1909), clearly popular choices.

  • Smith, R. A., How beautiful upon the mountains,
  • [Elvey or Hopkins] Arise, shine, for Thy light is come
  • Hatton, J. L., Let us now go even unto Bethlehem
  • Batiste, Édouard,  Angelic voices [organ]
  • Handel, G. F., March in Scipio [organ]

Choir outings were popular in the two decades before the Great War. (You have only to look at eBay listings for choir trip postcards!)  The Barrhead News reported an outstandingly successful choir outing by train to Callander and the Trossachs, led by Millar ­­and the Revd. Robert Barr in June 1899.  They had a great time, with unspecified high jinks in the railway tunnel between Queen Street and Cowlairs; a picnic by the banks of Loch Katrine, provided by the young ladies of the choir; and singing and violin playing on the way home, arriving back at 11pm.  An evening party on another occasion seems to have ended after midnight!  Being in a church choir plainly enhanced one’s social life.

Within a month, though, he was moving to play a Willis organ at Clark Memorial Church in Largs – reported as a step up, with a good organ and a better salary.  Indeed, his census return in 1901 finds him living in a fine terraced house with a sea view on Aubery Crescent, Largs with his wife and thirteen-year old Andrew.  Millar was described as an organist – not a grocer – and Andrew as an organist’s apprentice. Hugh and Sarah’s two older boys had clerking jobs, and were apparently staying with an ironmonger’s family back in Gertrude Place. The Millars seems to have had homes in both Largs and Barrhead from then on, as later confirmed by his death certificate. 

He was barely at Clark Memorial two years, when the Barrhead News announced in September 1902 that he had left, and was resuming music teaching in Barrhead.  His home, ‘Hughenden’ in Gertrude Place, by now had a Conacher organ of its own, available to pupils for practising; there’s no further mention of being a church organist. 

1903 saw him becoming local secretary for an examination board called the International Music College, a one-man concern run by a music-teaching organist in London.  Millar also made enquiries about the water supply for a water-powered chamber organ – another domestic instrument, or was he moving the Gertrude Place instrument? – in a house he proposed to build on Neilston Road.  Described again as a grocer, 1904 saw him standing for election as a councillor in Barrhead. The following year, Councillor Millar, Mus. Bac., FRSM, did have all his qualifications reported!  In time he became a bailie, and finally, Provost. 

Millar died in 1932, in Aubery Crescent, Largs, but his death certificate gave his usual residence as ‘Sandringham’, Paisley Road, Barrhead.  The Scotsman published his obituary:- ‘Hugh G. Millar carried on business in Barrhead, was a member of the Town Council for about 25 years, and served two terms in the civic chair. He also represented the burgh on Renfrewshire County Council for a long period. He had a residence in Largs for 30 years, and took a keen interest in local municipal affairs, being Chairman of the North Ward Ratepayers Committee.  The ex-Provost, who was 73 years of age, is survived by a widow and three sons.’

A man of many talents, he seems to have had a comfortable, varied and interesting life.  His shoemaker father would never have guessed that his tradesman son would end up probably the first Barrhead provost with a music degree, a diploma, two homes and his own chamber organ!

Band of Hope – My Research takes an Unexpected Direction

Yes, I’m a musicologist. No, there’s no music inside this wee publication, just Tonic Sol-Fa. (And no, I have not turned teetotal. Everything in moderation, that’s my motto!) In library-land, this would be termed ‘grey literature’, just an ephemeral little pamphlet – not the kind of thing that generally ends up in library catalogues.

Band of Hope Sol-Fa booklet of songs

I bought this on EBay a few days ago, because I’ve been following a possible link between some Glasgow publishers and the Victorian Temperance movement. You won’t find “my” publishers here, not even amongst the advertisements. It’s just because it’s a Glaswegian publication and I was curious to see if I might spot any unexpected connections. (Spoiler alert: I don’t think there’s any obvious link! But it’s still a nice curio to have, and there’s one slight hint of a thread that might yet be fruitful!)

My conscious mind was tempted to protest that this isn’t actually notated music, so why would I find it interesting? And yet, and yet …

Finally it dawned on my why I I should be interested. I’m writing a book which foregrounds amateur music-making. Sol-fa democratised music-making by removing the necessity to learn to read staff music notation. We musicians certainly acknowledge Sol-Fa’s limitations for notating complex modern music, and I am not turning into an apologist for Tonic Sol-Fa. However, it made music-making accessible to a lot of people who would not otherwise have even tried to read music.

Yes, this booklet is important. And that’s before you start thinking of music’s role in the temperance movement. But that’s another conversation for another day.

My Article about a Remarkable Victorian Music Teacher: ‘An Extensive Musical Library: Mrs Clarinda Webster, LRAM’

Brio electronic archive for IAML(UK & Ireland) members

My latest article is on the IAML(UK & Ireland) website, in the members’ area, but paper copies will land on subscribers’ doormats and music library shelves this week! It’s about a strong and determined Victorian music teacher, who survived domestic abuse and made a remarkable career for herself – and I reveal her survey of music in Victorian public libraries, that I discovered literally by digging around online. (I’m rather pleased with this one – and it’s illustrated!)

Here are the details and the abstract:- 

McAulay, Karen E., ‘An Extensive Musical Library’: Mrs Clarinda Webster, LRAM, in Brio Vol.59 no.1, 29-42

Although there has been the perception that middling-class women’s lives were confined to domestic circles, there are plenty of examples that directly challenge this idea. The late Victorian Clarinda Augusta Webster ran a music school and a school for young ladies. She escaped domestic violence, overcame personal tragedy, and created a highly successful career first in Aberdeen and then in London. She published, gave talks, was active in professional circles, and travelled both to Europe and America. She also conducted a ground-breaking survey on music library provision in late nineteenth century Britain, delivering her findings to the Library Association. Although her report has not been traced in its entirety, many of its findings were reported in newspapers, enabling us to piece together the results of her investigations.  This article celebrates the sheer determination of a talented woman to make the most of her skills and create opportunities for advancement. It also demonstrates the perceived importance of music in wider late Victorian life. 

It should be possible to read this Brio article in a music library somewhere near you, and it will also eventually appear on the RCS research repository (Pure). But if you can’t get sight of a copy, please feel free to message me and I’ll share the proofs.

A Badge from CILIP

When I’m sent an e-badge by my professional organisation, it would be churlish not to use it, wouldn’t it? But I wasn’t quite sure where to put it, so I’ll leave it here for now. I’m a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals; a music librarian; and a musicologist.

HoPIN (History of the Printed Image Network): a new network to join

Last night I gave a lightening talk as one of eight speakers at the latest HoPIN webinar. It’s the History of the Printed Image Network, so my Scottish music collections were slightly off the beaten track, but you know me – my mission is to ensure that anyone picking up an old Scottish music volume knows exactly what they’re getting into! And it was certainly interesting to hear about other people’s research into different aspects of printing.

This link summarises the scope of topics, even if the event is past! HoPIN Webinar 11 (hosted by the University of Wolverhampton).

The next HoPIN webinars are on 15 September and 17 November.

HoPIN website:- https://www.cphc.org.uk/hopin-home

From Glasgow to Edinburgh re Dundee: the Wighton Collection [My talk, Part 2]

This is the second part of the talk that I gave at yesterday’s conference, ‘Towards a Scottish Traditional Music Archive’ (Saturday 11 June 2022). The first part of my talk was about Dundee’s Wighton Collection, but in the second part I address the question of the broader printed music legacy when it comes to Scottish traditional music resources held in Scottish libraries.

Documentation

Lecture Theatre, Scottish Storytelling Centre

The Wighton Collection is a priceless resource, but it’s only fair to point out that it is complemented by other facilities containing some of the same titles, since Andrew Wighton was not the only Victorian or Edwardian collector of this particular repertoire.  If you take an overview of what is actually available in all these different collections, it’s a remarkably rich legacy.

A generation younger than Wighton, the Edinburgh bagpipe firm owner and music antiquarian John Glen lived from 1833-1904.  When he died, his collection was bought by Lady Dorothea Stewart Murray – or Dorothea Ruggles-Brise, to use her married name – and it ultimately ended up in the National Library of Scotland.  Dorothea was born the year Wighton died, so she was a younger generation again. She, too, collected Scottish music, gifting her own collection to Perth, where the A K Bell Library holds it as the Atholl Collection.

NLS DIGITAL GALLERY 

Glen’s collection – and that of Alexander Inglis of Glencorse – has been digitised and forms part of the National Library of Scotland’s Digital Gallery.

PERTH – THE ATHOLL COLLECTION CATALOGUE

Meanwhile, the Perth collection was catalogued by Dr Sheila M. Douglas, in a book published in 1999:-

UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES 

The University Libraries also hold a considerable number of Scottish music publications.  Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St Andrews all have admirable collections.  They were each legal deposit libraries until the early nineteenth century, which means they were entitled to one copy of every British book published, although history has revealed that they adopted different approaches to the music that could have come their way. Moreover, some music was never properly recorded at Stationers’ Hall in London.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has a few historical published titles in the Library, but nowhere near as many as the universities can boast, particularly in terms of really old, pre-nineteenth century materials.  Our strengths are more in the more recent publications which our students use as performance resources. 

And of course, all universities have archival resources, by which I mean unique, manuscript or at least, non-published materials.  The structural management of a university archive may be alongside but not necessarily part of the library. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has an archive which is part of the Information Services Department; it’s off-site and does not share the same catalogue.  (Bear in mind that the Athenaeum was only established near the end of the nineteenth century, and to this day, RCS is nowhere near the size of a university.)

LINKS

Speaking as a librarian, I can say that the key to making use of the legacy that Scotland has, is in knowing how to access it.

For published resources, in the university and national library sphere, there is Jisc Library Hub Discover, which explores all their catalogues at once.  Individual universities will have pages via their own catalogue leading to other finding aids for manuscripts and other rare materials.  There’s also, of course, the Jisc Archives Hub, which facilitates exploring all British university archives. 

Another useful resource to know about is Cecilia-uk.org, which was compiled by the UK & Ireland branch of IAML – the International Association of Music Libraries.  This offers pointers as to where different music materials can be sourced.

And of course, there’s WorldCat.  This extraordinary resource facilitates searching 10,000 libraries worldwide – some British university and public libraries are listed here.  But what you find – whether in Jisc Library Hub Discover, or WorldCat – depends on what has been catalogued in an automated system.  When libraries opt to collaborate with these online union catalogues, it is dependent on their automated catalogue records being up to particular library cataloguing codes and standards, because different library catalogues can’t be interrogated simultaneously unless all the information is coded consistently.  Whilst I must admit I don’t know whether Dundee’s library catalogue is linked to WorldCat, the holdings of the Wighton Collection certainly won’t be, because they’re not catalogued into the City of Dundee’s online library catalogue in the first place.

I realise that I strayed away somewhat from my remit of talking about the Wighton Collection, but I think it’s important to be aware of both the Scottish music resources themselves, and their documentation. 

To quote the old song, “You can’t have one without the other.”

From Glasgow to Edinburgh re Dundee: the Wighton Collection [My talk, Part 1]

Yesterday (11 June 2022), I travelled through to Edinburgh to a conference at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. The topic was, ‘Towards a Scottish Traditional Music Archive’. I was there in my capacity as Honorary Librarian of the Friends of Wighton. Professionally, I combine two roles as a Performing Arts Librarian and as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  It was unusual for me to be speaking at a conference with neither my Conservatoire librarian nor musicologist hat on.

Much of the discussion was about sound archives and digital preservation, but I was there to talk about the Wighton Collection, which is firmly rooted in physical materials, even if there are also microfilm copies and an online website. If even one person there confessed that they had ‘never heard of the Wighton Collection before’, then it made me wonder how many other people have similarly not heard of it. So, I thought I’d share my talk here on my blog, too. The talk essentially fell into two halves – the background, and some comments about finding aids in general for this kind of repertoire. Here goes for the first half!

PowerPoint title screen: The Wighton Collection, Dundee

I began by explaining that I’ve worked in libraries for nearly four decades, and I’m a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals – so I have a strong librarianship background, as distinct from that of an archivist. 

The Wighton Collection lives under the care of the Local History Library in Dundee’s Wellgate library.  This is a public library on the top floor of the Wellgate shopping centre, and it’s the Central Library for the city of Dundee.  Although I have an honorary role, I don’t have any paid connection with the city of Dundee.  My honorary role is to take a professional interest in the Wighton Collection and its curation, and to help answer queries needing specialist input.  In this respect, my doctoral and postdoctoral work on historical Scottish music certainly come in useful.

The Wighton Collection consists of about 700 music publications – some are bound together, so there aren’t as many as 700 bound volumes.  They were left to the city by Andrew Wighton, a merchant, violin-restorer and music collector who died in 1866.  Wighton had initially considered gifting his collection to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, but negotiations broke down concerning some of his preconditions.

Dundee adopted the Free Public Libraries Act shortly before Wighton died, and the council accepted Wighton’s bequest with a view to it forming one of the cornerstones of their new public library. I might add that there was some grumbling amongst the councillors as to whether it had been wise to accept so many music books before they even had anywhere to house it properly.  The insistence in Wighton’s bequest that it should be stored in a fire-proof room must have been an extra burden. 

However, one Dundee councillor made an observation which now seems laughable with hindsight, when he said it would cost three times as much to compile a catalogue as the volumes were actually worth.

Wighton’s collection has proven to be a jewel in the crown as far as the city library service is concerned – the books are almost beyond value, and certainly beyond the cost of cataloguing them.  Wighton’s avowed aim was to collect a copy of every Scottish music publication that existed.  In correspondence, one of his friends commented that he must have pretty much succeeded, and they were only half-joking.  Wighton was an assiduous, and knowledgeable collector, visiting Edinburgh, London and even travelling abroad in pursuit of his hobby.  I read in an 1894 newspaper article that, having no descendants to leave his money to, he was able to indulge his book-collecting passion all the more, though I hasten to add that Mrs Wighton was also left comfortably off!

The Wighton collection itself is a finite collection – self-contained in being the collection that he himself amassed.  I won’t attempt to highlight particular volumes – suffice to say that about half of the collection consists of very rare eighteenth and nineteenth century Scottish music, but the remainder is equally rare English, Irish and Welsh material along with some ballad operas.  As published material, the library is a natural home for it, but there are a few unique items that would be described as more archival – specifically, a few manuscripts that Wighton himself copied – such as his copy of the Blaikie viola da gamba manuscript, which itself is now lost – and a copy of Alexander Stuart’s 1726 publication, Musick for the Scots Songs in Allan Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany.  Other unique handwritten materials are textual rather than musical, and include his own annotated copy of Laing’s additional Illustrations of the Lyric Poetry and Music of Scotland (that’s the additional notes Laing contributed to William Stenhouse’s original Illustrations, the companion volume to Johnson’s earlier Scots Musical Museum.)  There is also correspondence (mostly incoming, obviously) between Wighton, his fellow book-collecting enthusiasts and specialists (David Laing, William Chappell, and Aberdonian music publisher James Davie), and some letters concerning Dundee municipal matters, in his capacity as a town councillor.  This would definitely count as archival material, were it not for the fact that the Wighton material must perforce be kept together – and it has added value as an entire collection.

MILLAR’S ARTICLE, 1894

The Wighton Collection has always been known about by musicologists and scholars of traditional music. Very early on, the books were expertly bound, and have always been kept as a closed access collection, to be used within the library under supervision.  As far back as January 1894, the Dundee Evening Telegraph reproduced a lengthy article by the City Librarian, Alexander Hastie Millar, FSA Scot (who lived from 1847-1927), which had originally been published in the Scottish Musical Monthly, highlighting the significance of the collection and its availability for visitors to study.

WILLSHER’S ARTICLE, 1948

1948 saw another profile-raising article by Dundee librarian Harry M. Willsher,  ‘The Wighton Collection of National Music’, in the Review of the Activities of the Dundee Public Libraries, ii/July (1948), 12–13.  And of course, the collection is mentioned in Oxford Music Online – the former, Grove Dictionary of Music.

More recently, we have seen the development of the Wighton Heritage Centre, along with other initiatives that have enhanced the usefulness and appeal to today’s musicians and scholars, and it’s to these that I turn now.

WIGHTON HERITAGE CENTRE, 2003

The Heritage Centre was master-minded by librarian David Kett.  Filling in a space between the Local History Library and another part of the main library, it was opened in November 2003.  It’s a beautiful space beside the Local History Library, designed for small, intimate performances such as the Cappuccino Concerts on Saturday mornings, mid-week lunchtime concerts, adult music classes and study purposes.  Events have also been arranged to showcase particular volumes in the collection. 

FRIENDS OF WIGHTON 

All these activities are supported and promoted by the Friends of Wighton.  In pride of place, of course, are the locked bookcases containing the treasured Wighton Collection.  Whilst the volumes can be examined by bona fide scholars by arrangement with the Local History Library, the books were microfilmed in their entirety some years ago, to lessen the wear-and-tear on the original volumes.

SALLY GARDEN

To make the largest possible impact at the time of opening, a three-year residency – Historical Musician in Residence – was created from September 2003.  This residency was held by Dr Sally Garden.  Her remit was to oversee a programme of performances and events; to bring together amateurs and professionals; to research the collection; and to raise its profile as an educational resource and opportunity.

The contents of every volume were also indexed around this time – every song, every dance tune – and saved as a massive Excel spreadsheet which was then interrogated via the Library website as the Wighton Database.  It’s a vastly useful resource, and one for which I have had many opportunities to be grateful.

However, at some stage, the local authority stopped hosting the database.  Undeterred, a search facility was devised by a committee member of the Friends of Wighton, so that the spreadsheet could still be explored. 

This was subsequently – in 2018 – superseded by links to four lists:- the complete, 451 page catalogue; the list of imprints (a list by publisher); a title index, and a short-title list.  The information is still there, albeit not searchable in quite the same way as the original facility had intended.  The links are all accessible via the Friends of Wighton website.  A link from the local authority library website leads to the Friends’ page, so if you know where to look, the material is still very much accessible:-

LINKS TO LIBRARY AND TO FRIENDS OF WIGHTON SITE

Wighton Complete Catalogue (451 pages)
Wighton list of Imprints (135 pages)
Wighton Title Index (109 pages)
Wighton Short Title List (108 pages)

FURTHER DONATIONS

In recent years, the Wighton Collection has been augmented by a few donations, the most significant of which are the Jimmy Shand Collection, and a handsome donation of scores by Stuart Eydmann.  Lottery fund money enabled the Friends to buy at auction, a collection of historical scores that had belonged to the late Jimmy Shand.  These have been professionally restored and re-bound by a conservation expert, and they’ve also been digitised and uploaded to IMSLP, with links from the Friends’ website and indices to the contents.  A few years later, Jimmy Shand junior gave some further scores to the Friends, which I assume the auctioneers had considered of less value.  In one sense, they would have observed that only a few of these were of any great age, but at the same time, this secondary collection represents the working collection of a famous musician with local connections, and they are also of an era which has too often been overlooked as neither “ancient” nor “modern”.  Without them, a chunk of popular Scottish music history would be missing.  In just a few decades, even the music published between 1900 and 1960 will be more than a hundred years old, and of potential interest in ways we can only imagine now.*  I’ve made a listing of all the volumes, and some have been bound – it will not be financially feasible for every item to be bound. The pandemic has meant I haven’t yet discussed with the Friends how best to handle the unbound material, or arranged for the listing to be uploaded to the Friends’ website.  Similarly, Stuart Eydmann’s donation has been listed, but not uploaded.  As life returns to the ‘new normal’, these tasks once again become a priority.

Read the second part of my talk here. It’s about lots of other collections of historical Scottish music publications and how to find them.

  • The talk was all about Wighton, not all about me, so I didn’t mention the fact that I’ve just signed a contract to write a book about Scottish music publishing between 1880 and 1950 – but it does mean that I can certainly see the historical value of the secondary Shand collection!