Building a Network

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I spent the day authoring and starting to disseminate the first network Newsletter; actually, it’s both an update and an invitation to particate!  After spending some time this evening reading MailChimp’s instructions, I worked out how to get the hyperlink for viewing in your browser.  Triumph!  Click the link to read it, here.

By way of light relief, I opened my favourite book – Kassler’s Music Entries at Stationers’ Hall  – to see what was registered on this day, over 200 years ago.  Two surprises awaited me.  In 1784, John Valentine of Leicester registered Thirty Psalm Tunes in Four Parts, and eleven copies are still extant, not only in legal deposit libraries.  Plainly psalm tunes were considered worth keeping (or leaving to libraries!); not only that, but Trinity College Dublin has a copy, and they didn’t as a rule show much interest in trivial matter such as legal deposit music.

The second surprise was some piano trios by Pleyel, dedicated to Miss Elizabeth Wynne and registered on 20th September 1790.  According to Copac, several copies survive in UK, and the British Library also has copies with a later date posited.  And there could still be others not yet catalogued online.  But here’s the exciting bit – you can access a German edition on IMSLP.  Who wants to be first to play it?!

http://imslp.org/wiki/3_Keyboard_Trios,_B.437-439_(Pleyel,_Ignaz)

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19th September – a pure coincidence

I checked Kassler’s Music Entries at Stationers’ Hall (2004) last night, to discover that although music wasn’t registered on a daily basis, it was actually registered on that date in three consecutive decades: 1797, 1807, and 1817.  A curious confluence of the stars, nothing more, but it made an interesting thumbnail case-study.Rauzzini On 19th September 1797: Singer and singing teacher Rauzzini registered no.7 of his Periodical Collection of Vocal Music.  Few copies survive, and it’s a bit hard to tell which volume contains no.7, though I know an expert who could probably locate it!

vauxhall gardens theatreAlso OTD in 1797, Bland & Weller registered James Hook’s Vauxhall Gardens song, Maidens would you know?, along with Hook’s Welsh song, Jem of Aberdovey, and his When the sprightly fife and drum.  It’s all pretty typical fare – a song  by a popular Bath impresario, and some Vauxhall Gardens songs including a ‘national’ and a military song, by composers still (just) known today.  As it happens, there were also imprints of another ‘Jem’ song by Hook under English, Irish and Scottish imprints – Jem of Aberdeen! – but that’s not part of the 19th September story.  You can trace a few copies in Copac, but certainly not in all of the legal deposit libraries.

Jump forward to 19th September 1807, and publisher Goulding registered 2 Dibdin songs for a show, Bannister’s Budget.  Copies survive in three Copac libraries today.  (If musical theatre is a popular genre today, it’s a case of ‘plus ca change’!)

Bath Assembly RoomsMeanwhile, exactly two hundred years ago yesterday, Bath musician John Charles White registered his piano rondo, The Fairy Queen on 19th September 1817.   There are seemingly three surviving copies in the UK.  However, there could be further copies of any of the aforementioned titles, because not all of the early legal deposit music has been catalogued online.  That’s the intriguing part of this story!

For now, this tiny snapshot of three anniversaries neatly encapsulates the kind of music popular in those decades: typical of their eras, they represent concerts by famous names in Vauxhall Gardens; touch upon the fashion for songs of a military nature during the Napoleonic Wars, the popularity of national songs; and a plethora of piano rondos for the amateur pianist.   Not bad, for a random handful of music entries in the Stationers’ Hall registers!
Vauxhall gardens scene

Networking is the Name of The Game

Pinterest British Library Spiders Web

The first network steering group meeting took place a couple of weeks ago, and in the past week more networking has taken place.  I’ve already blogged about Monday’s highly satisfactory meeting with retired University of Aberdeen music librarian Richard Turbet, in Norfolk.

Back in Glasgow, on Friday I attended a collaborators’ meeting for another new network, this time at the University of Glasgow: the Royal Society of Edinburgh-funded Romantic National Song Network.  It is spearheaded by Principal Investigator Professor Kirsteen McCue and Postdoctoral Research Assistant Dr Brianna Robertson-Kirkland.  My own doctoral research was about late 18th and 19th century Scottish song-collecting; I had examined collections both with and without accompaniments.  The new network focuses largely on collections with accompaniments, and certainly – like my own research – on collections with music, aka, “songs with their airs”.

Although the focus of my research has changed slightly since my PhD, I can see that the work I did on the borrowing of “national song” collections from St Andrews University library could be pertinent in the context of the RNSN.  I am also enthusiastic about the possibility of revisiting some of my favourite nineteenth century Scottish song collections!

Mrs Bertram’s Music Borrowing: Reading Between the Lines

Moving on to another research network, I recently wrote a blogpost for the EAERN (Eighteenth-century Arts Education Research Network) .  “Mrs Bertram’s Music Borrowing” occupied quite a few evening hours when I stumbled across a reference to her in my perusal of the early nineteenth-century St Andrews University borrowing records, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to write it up in to a coherent piece for EAERN.  Yes, I’ve stretched a point – we’re talking about the long eighteenth-century here!  Nonetheless, I think it will demonstrate the value of interrogating archival records in minute detail.  After my many years spent cataloguing music materials for the Whittaker Library, my endurance levels for dealing with repetitive detail are exceptionally high!  It’s very rewarding when hours of capturing data can be turned into a human story about someone who lived, breathed and – most importantly – borrowed music from the library!  Do visit the EAERN website.

And lastly – some more networking news about the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall network.  We now have a Facebook page:- https://www.facebook.com/ClaimedStatHall/ – and I’ve also set up a Jiscmail list, so at some stage this week I’ll be sharing details with people whom I think might be interested in joining in the discussion about this fascinating, but often overlooked body of music.

The Aberdeen-Norfolk Link

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To say that an expert on the Aberdeen copyright music collection lives less than fifteen miles away from my mother in Norfolk sounds too coincidental to be true. But retired special collections cataloguer Richard Turbet does indeed live in Holt, which is where we met this morning.  A small market town, buildings faced with traditional Norfolk flints, it wears its age well, many of the properties as old as the music we had met to talk about.

Richard was able to tell me the names of some people who had worked with him, or just after him, when he was occupied cataloguing the University of Aberdeen’s old legal deposit music online, in the days when original cataloguing was more usual, and dowloaded records were just becoming a possibility.  The names of cataloguers and university librarians now retired, served to remind me that the histories of collections have a lineage leading right up to the present day. Time didn’t just stand still after the tide of historical copyright music stopped flowing to the Scottish university libraries.

Richard also confirmed an interesting difference between the bound collections of music in Aberdeen and St Andrews. The latter were at least roughly categorized before binding. However, Aberdeen’s collections were apparently completely randomly bound.  We also know that, unlike the steady borrowing of music from St Andrews’ University Library, access to the library at King’s College was so severely restricted at that time, that any borrowing would have been limited, still less of the musical collection. (If there are loan records, I urgently need to find out about them and to seek them out!)

This was a thoroughly enjoyable, as well as an informative meeting. IMG_20170912_001955Driving back through heavy showers, I was largely oblivious to the weather. I had a pageful of notes to think about and follow up, and the possibility of further future contact. The Aberdeen-Norfolk connection is indeed a good thing, and I’m delighted to have made contact again after a gap of several years.

Might my next expedition be to Aberdeen???

 

What does St Andrews have in common with Vanity Fair?

I’ve just written a blogpost about one of the Copyright Music borrowers, to go on the Eighteenth-Century Arts Education Research Network blog.  It’s not published yet – but won’t be long.  Watch this space!  We’re looking at mid-September.

Impact, Dissemination and Big Data

A few days ago, I offered to read and review a new book being produced by Fast Track Impact – I can’t think of a better way of ensuring I’m thinking along the right lines with regard to this crucial aspect of a research project!  I can’t wait to read it.

Meanwhile, we’ve been planning for the first steering group meeting for the network, and I’m looking forward to see the project being fleshed out as we pool ideas and discuss the various activities and actions that I’ve either embarked upon or promised to do as part of the network!

I’ve also recently been in touch with two scholars who between them have years of experience and knowledge about the early legal deposit collections at the University of Aberdeen.   Reading about King’s College and Marischal College’s library provision  led me to investigate reports and evidence provided by various libraries firstly in response to a Parliamentary Select Committee on legal deposit in 1817-18, and secondly to a Royal Commission on Scottish universities and their management, in the late 1820s.

Straker, Henry, 1860-1943; Woman Looking at Books

As far as legal deposit was concerned, it’s fair to say that music was the Cinderella category, along with juvenile literature and ephemera.  Sometimes music was singled out; maybe we can use this to read between the lines in other responses to the official questions?

  • 1817 – Trinity College Dublin tells their London agent “to claim neither music, novels nor school books”
  • 1818 – St Andrews fills in a return to the Select Committee, alluding to “works of little utility“, saying they’ve recently been receiving only “those of the most trifling and useless description”.  Scholar Elizabeth Ann Frame observed from their records that,”A small proportion of the contents of every parcel, chiefly of children’s books and books of mere amusement, is laid aside in a separate bale accompanied with an exact list, besides being referred to in the Register.  All these bales are arranged in regular order, in a room adjoining to the Library”.  But was music “mere amusement?” It’s hard to say.  Most of it would not have been in “books”, for a start.  Also, there’s plenty of evidence of the music being used – a lot!
  • 1826 – Aberdeen informs the Royal Commission that, “trifling or pernicious works are sent in great abundance.”
  • 1826 – Dr McGill, Glasgow professor of Divinity, advises that “The Stationers’ Hall privilege is not at all effective: we get very few valuable books comparatively, we get a great many idle books” (whatever he may have included under this term) “and it is very expensive to bind them.”  Further to this, the author of a book about Glasgow University Library (Dickson, The Glasgow University Library, 1888 p.16), concluded that, “The working of the privilege was in reality far from satisfactory.  The library freely obtained its share of the works of fiction, juvenile literature, fugitive poetry, and music that were issued yearly from the press; but the books were procured with ease in the inverse ratio of their value, and continuations, periodicals, and works with expensive plates, especially if issued in parts, were either not procured at all, or supplied imperfectly.”
  • In a report published in 1837, King’s College Aberdeen alluded to what Barrington Partridge (The History of the Legal Deposit of Books p.128) called “shoals of useless publications … including children’s primers, and labels for blacking.”  (Barrington Partridge cites Parliamentary Papers (1837), xxxviii, p.64.  He similarly cites an 1826 Edinburgh allusion to “a great deal of trash“, although it would be imprudent to assume that this embraces music.  However, we do know that the University of Edinburgh sold at least some of its legal deposit music, as it would appear did King’s College Aberdeen, judging by evidence that I blogged about last week and the week before.