When Less is More and More is Less

This may sound as though I’m speaking in riddles.  Truly, I’m not!

I alluded in my earlier posting today to the question of “When less is more”, in the context of the apparently minimal amount of Stationers’ Hall music surviving at Edinburgh University Library, and how I was forced to look at the little that was there, in quite a close focus.

But I still have copies of those lists of music that was SOLD by the National Library of Scotland.  So, on the one hand, we have very little of the music surviving in what was then “Edinburgh College”.  On the other hand, we have a list of music that we know was discarded by the Advocates Library in 1830.

I’ve started to transcribe these lists – only a few pages, but interesting nonetheless.  But, how do I rationalise to other people just why they’re interesting?  And this is why:-

If I can establish which of these discarded pieces actually SURVIVED in different libraries, then I get a snapshot view – fragmented and  blurred, admittedly – of which libraries retained more, or less, and I can see if certain categories were more likely to survive at that time, shortly before the legal deposit system was radically reduced.  Yes, it means another spreadsheet.  But I still think there may be something interesting to unearth.  Watch this space!

And yes, I do still need to establish whether there is music surviving but not yet catalogued online. I know about some of the libraries, but not absolutely clearly for all of them.  That’s why I’m making my visits around the country!

 

 

 

 

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Music Sold and Music Held

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Yesterday was spent in Edinburgh, examining an armful of old bound music volumes in Edinburgh University Library. These are the volumes with “Edinburgh College from Stationers Hall” stamps – possibly NOT the only legal deposit survivors, but potentially the only identifiable ones at present.  They also stand as a reminder that one should not leap to conclusions – every picture can be looked at from different angles and in different lights.  So, we can’t – at present – say that the Edinburgh professors retained no instrumental music, but we do know that they kept some sacred music, some national songs, and a rather turgid-looking tome on the thorough bass.  Other items could perhaps be bound in other volumes, unmarked and unrecognised – there isn’t a neatly ordered sequence of reasonably categorised copyright music, as in St Andrews, or a neatly ordered sequence of randomly-bound pieces, as in Aberdeen.

The instructional volume was A. F. C. Kollmann’s, A second practical guide to thorough bass. (It was printed for the author, who lived at Friary, St James’s Palace, in 1807, and was available either from Kollmann or “the principal music shops”),  initialled by Kollmann on the title page.  A similar copy in Copac is described as a “library copy”, which I think probably means it was a legal deposit copy.  Kollmann was Organist of His Majesty’s German Chapel at St James, and this was the sequel to an earlier guide.  It was dedicated to Her Royal Highness Princess Sophia Matilda.  (How fortunate she was!)  The bound volume contains further delights in the form of his Twelve Analysed Fugues, not to mention his Rondo on the Chord of the Diminished Seventh, and The melody of the hundredth psalm, with examples and directions for an hundred different harmonies, in four parts … op.9.  The final Kollmann item in this book is An air from Handel’s lessons, with nine variations for the piano forte.  There are numerous sacred pieces, not by Kollmann, but someone evidently felt there was room for a few more items before they sent Sacred Music Vol.1 (Shelfmark R.5) off to be bound.

I also saw a curious mishmash of an oratorio – a sad, bedraggled specimen by William Gardiner, who compiled Judah, a sacred oratorio in score, written, composed, and adapted to the works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven (London: printed for the author and sold by Clementi, Birchall, Preston, Goulding, Chappell, & The Harmonic Institution &c, [1821]).  It’s a full score, with brief instrumental interludes between larger choral sections, but strangely enough, the instrumental parts are not printed in score format, but one under another – they’d have had to be copied out.  One wonders whether it ever saw the light of day after reaching the library – is it bedraggled through heavy use, or has it suffered a lengthy period of neglect in the past?!  It is now at Shelfmark R.1, if you want to seek it out!

When less is more

When there’s apparently not much to look at, the only answer is to look more closely.  I noted what was in each of the volumes, and a few key dates, establishing that the music all dates from the first three decades of the nineteenth century.  I look for patterns of content, date or publisher, and when I’ve time, I check to see how many other libraries still have the same music.

The survival of several national song collections yet again confirm the popularity of this genre – Popular National Airs by Moore, Bunting’s A general Collection of the ancient music of Ireland, Kitchiner’s Loyal and National Songs of England and his The Sea Songs of England , and English-published collections of German and Russian songs – Arnim’s A Selection of Germany National Melodies, and the anonymous  The Russian Troubadour.  They’re interesting, not just as legal deposit specimens, but because of their paratextual commentary, revealing early 19th century views of English music – or, often, perceptions that the English had no national music!

It was strange turning the pages of these books and finding the same view emerging from three different authors, one after another.  In 1818, Moore’s advertisement began,

“It is Cicero, I believe, who says “natura ad modos ducimur;” and the abundance of wild, indigenous airs, which almost every country, except England, possesses, sufficient proves the truth of this assertion.”

Only a couple of years earlier (1814-16), Arnim’s dissertation, “On National Music” goes through the national characteristics of a number of countries, until we reach England on page 4.  Reader, there is good reason why the English have no national music – we’re apparently too busy!

“England may perhaps be said not to possess any national music at all. There are, no doubt, songs, yet it would be very difficult to recognise by them the character of the nation. To find out the cause of this singular phenomenon, in such a celebrated and great nation, will prove an interesting enquiry.” 

It goes on, describing how national music reflects national character, and how English songs,  “appear gay, although not very lively, and therefore pleasing, without producing a deep and lasting impression […] “But allowing the English to have strong passions, there exists another reason which explains the absence of national music in them; it is, they have no leisure to exhale their character in songs.”

Fortunately, in 1823, Kitchiner reports in his The loyal and national songs of England that although it has been said that, “the English have no national songs”, he can furnish a whole volume of them to disprove the theory.  Two volumes, if you count the sea song book published the same year!

While there,  I also looked at some archival documentation, though I didn’t get through as much as I had ambitiously hoped to survey.  I did find the reference to Stationers’ Hall music and books being sold in 1793 – Finlayson and Simpson alluded to this in Guild and Law’s book about Edinburgh University Library.  I had wondered if these sales were the tip of the iceberg, but after skimming through one and a half books of monetary receipts, I reluctantly concluded that the reference was either a one-off, or other sales must have been recorded elsewhere.  Possibly not so much the tip of the iceberg, as a solitary ice-cube!

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I had intended to look at some library receipt books (loan registers), but ran out of time.  Does anyone fancy a quick romp through Da.2.3 (1766-1812), Da.2.4 (1805-1815) or Da.2.6 (Surgeons and others beside the professors, 1770-1810, 1784-1809), to see if any music loans can be traced?  In St Andrews, it was easy.  Music loans are noted as such – eg., “Music Vol.116”, so they jump out and hit you.  This may well not be the case in other libraries, and of course we also don’t know how much more – if any – of the copyright music was bound.

Home and Away

NLS Advocates Committee on Music 1856Waiting with bated breath to see if I’ll make it to the antipodes, this week I continued my explorations closer to home, visiting the National Library of Scotland yesterday to investigate music committee meetings at the Advocates Library in 1831-2, and later in 1856.  The Advocates Library (later to be absorbed into the National Library of Scotland) was one of the Scottish copyright libraries, so received the quarterly consignments of legal deposit materials, and indeed continued to receive them after the legislation had stripped most universities of legal deposit entitlements in 1836.

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Dauney – Ancient Scotish Melodies

Who should I immediately encounter but my old friend William Dauney?  He was to author Ancient Scotish Melodies in 1838, before he emigrated to British Guyana (as it was then).

He was in good company – John Donaldson was also on the committee.  Donaldson had started out as a music teacher in Glasgow, trained as a lawyer in Edinburgh, and eventually (on his fourth application) became fourth Reid Professor of Music at Edinburgh University in 1845.  (You can find out much, much more on the excellent Edinburgh University Reid Concerts database, here.)  But all this was well in the future, in 1831-2.  It was good to know that the music’s future wellbeing was in safe hands.

Dauney and Donaldson were joined by a Mr Monro – too common a name in Edinburgh Reid Concertto be sure of his identity, though there certainly was a Mr Monro in the tenor section of the 1842 Reid Concert, and he might have been a partner in the music-sellers Monro and May, who traded for a time in London.

I discovered that – horror! – just like Aberdeen and Edinburgh, the Advocates had been selling off their copyright music, too.  But before we gasp in righteous indignation, let’s remember that the legal deposit libraries had been receiving mountains of light popular music along with the more ‘worthy’ compositions – for example, on this very day in 1787, publishers Longman and Broderip made one of their very frequent trips to Stationers’ Hall to register Jonas Blewitt’s song, sung at Bermondsey’s Spa Gardens by Mr Burling – ‘Where are my Jolly Companions gone? A favourite drunken song.’  It is sadly understandable that many scholarly libraries couldn’t see the need for this material, whether or not they had a legal and moral obligation to take it.  There are still copies catalogued online in two libraries in the UK, if you’re curious to see how awful – or otherwise – the song might have been!

John Donaldson
Prof. John Donaldson
John Winter Jones
John Winter Jones

As a librarian myself, I smiled to read that after a week of deliberations, this committee couldn’t agree whether to classify music by composers’ names, or by publisher.  Small wonder they requested rules from the British Museum, which was somewhat ahead of them in terms of music librarianship!  John Winter Jones, Assistant Librarian at the Museum, took the lead in creating a catalogue there, and later became Principal Librarian.  I believe the “Ninety-one rules” originated during his time there.  (Ninety one! If he had only seen AACR2, Marc cataloguing, RDA and all the other cataloguing protocols now available …)

There remains one further excitement.  There are a couple of lists of music that was sold in 1823.  It’s very tempting to transcribe the lists and see what remains elsewhere in the country!

Sion College Library Provenance Project

Followers of the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall music research project may be aware that Sion College (in London) was one of the original legal deposit libraries, and Karen is planning to pay a visit to Lambeth Palace Library, where the Sion College library holdings ended up, in the next few months.

It is therefore of HUGE interest to note that Lambeth Palace Library is working on a really significant project tracing provenance of the Sion College Library collections.  A circular was emailed to rare books librarians today, explaining precisely what this project is all about.  We have permission to share this notification here, and are more than happy to spread the joy!

“Lambeth Palace Library is pleased to announce the re-launch of the Sion College Library Provenance Project, which has been migrated to a dedicated WordPress account. The new site allows you to search through galleries of hundreds of images (which are being regularly uploaded), including an array of armorial bindings, bookplates, inscriptions and much more from the Sion College Library collection.

“All the pre-1850 material from Sion College came to Lambeth Palace Library in 1996 and is now the focus of a major cataloguing project which is uncovering a wealth of provenance evidence. Viewers are warmly invited to not only search the database to discover its fascinating contents, but are encouraged to actively contribute by helping us identify marks of provenance within the collection, providing information with which to supplement and enrich our detailed catalogue records. Please do have a look and try your hand at some transcriptions and identifications. We look forward to hearing your comments!”

Sion College Project

Professors as Gatekeepers

In my doctoral research, I encountered a few instances where learned individuals acted as informal gatekeepers, or intermediaries, between Scottish song (and custom) devotees on the one hand, and new knowledge on the other – I could name people such as George Paton or John Ramsay of Ochtertyre in the late 18th century, or John MacGregor Murray in the Georgian and Regency era, and of course David Laing, who became librarian to the Society of Writers to H. M. Signet in the 19th century.  These unofficial gatekeepers were seen as sources of information, and were often surprisingly generous in the sharing of it.

Today, in the latest University of St Andrews’ Special Collections blog, Echoes from the Vault, I was reminded of these luminaries.  The latest blogpost, ‘Banned Books at the University of St Andrews‘, shares early 19th century Senate discussions as to which books should remain banned to Divinity students; it also describes the Senate’s efforts to regulate public access to their library books.*

Banned books – be they novels or otherwise – are outwith the scope of the Claimed from Stationers’ Hall music research network, but public access is another matter entirely!

The loan records, you will recall, faithfully record every single loan of the copyright music volumes to anyone, professors or students, or the professors’ friends.  Between 1836-1839, Dr Gillespie even borrowed the music catalogue itself on several occasions!

Bearing that in mind, the Senate’s deliberations between 1820-21 to restrict the public’s direct access to library books are actually quite significant.  We learn that in 1820, the Senate decided,

to consider of the Propriety of restricting the Public at large in the use of books which they are at present allowed to have out on Professors’ pages  (Minutes of Senatus, 14 December 1820. UYUY452/13, p. 110)

The subsequent decision was clear: the public were neither to borrow directly, nor to send their servants to do so on their behalf:-

The committee farther recommend that all persons not members of the University whom the Professors may be desirous of accommodating with the use of Books should henceforth receive such books through the Professors themselves & not by going directly to the Library or sending their Servants to it for the purpose of taking out Books in the Professors’ names.  (Minutes of Senatus, 13 January 1821. UYUY452/13, pp. 114-116.)

So University Gates St Andrewswhat we actually have here, is the professors acting as intermediaries, or gatekeepers, to the collection.  Considering the materials were valuable, and many of them had been deposited under copyright legislation, this is quite understandable.

What it means, in terms of the music collection, however, is that if we are reading this correctly, and if the rules were subsequently interpreted strictly, then all the friends’ music loans after 1820 were actually made by the professors and not selected by individual townspeople standing at the shelves on their own account.  So, who chose the music?  We’ll never know.  We cannot tell how strictly the rules were enforced, nor for how long, and we certainly cannot guess how often Miss X asked for a particular kind of music, or a particular piece.  Unless they knew what was in individual volumes, it is quite probable that their professorial friends were asked to, ‘just find me some piano music’, or perhaps on occasions to ‘bring back something new’.  Who knows?

Does this drive a coach and horses through my analysis of who borrowed what, and when?  I don’t think it does.  We really don’t know the precise circumstances of all those hundreds and thousands of music loans.  Even if the professors were more involved in selecting music than we might have imagined, the statistics we’re left with give us a picture of what kinds of music different borrower types were exposed to.  Maybe the professors made assumptions about what their friends might enjoy singing or playing.  But they must have got something right, or the music wouldn’t have continued to fly off the shelves!  Moreover, a strict rule in 1821 wasn’t necessarily strictly enforced even a few years later.

The Senate’s restrictions do, however, serve to remind us that we need to keep an open mind about many aspects of the library’s lending patterns.  It does no harm to be reminded!

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*Echoes from the Vault post,  29.09.2017, celebrating Banned Books Week

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???