I should confess at the outset, that this is a reflective piece, rather than a seriously documented aspect of the legal deposit music research. It outlines what can best be described as a playful attempt to describe the legal deposit process by evoking the imagined sounds of the early nineteenth century. I was contemplating different ways to bring the story alive to an audience unfamiliar with the context of my research. After I’d told the story in what I hoped was an accessible and reasonably lively way, I continued to reflect upon ways of utilising other media to enliven things another time.
I offer you two SoundCloud recordings today, firstly a podcast update, which goes on to outline my experimentation with making a playlist of appropriate sound-effects.
For the purposes of transparency, the individual audio-clips in the Soundscape are listed below, acknowledging the sources and durations. My thanks go to their creators. I particularly thank Alessandro Cesaro and Simone Laghi for uploading their beautiful performances to SoundCloud. They’re wonderful!
Only by listening to the podcasts will you be able to discern why the other audio-clips – all sound effects – were chosen!
Michelle’s Pen on Paper (0:10) / Kate Baker Music
Wrapping Parcel (0:31) / SoundMods
Sound Effect of Door Opening 0:06) / Switcher12
Door Slamming Shut (0:02) / Amy-Jane Wilson 1
Footsteps Sound Effects (0:08 ) / l13hk
Horse on Cobbles at Münster (0:30) / Simon Velo
Boat at Sea (1:58) / Misha Rogov
In Bruges / Clip & Clop (0:30) / Bib-6
Door Open And Close Puerta Abriendo Y Cerrando 2 (0:50) / FX Sounds
Turning Pages (0:05) / Angela Morris
L. Dussek Rosline Castle with variations, piano (5:02) / Alessandro Cesaro
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?!
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!
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.
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.
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.
So you’re a composer in Regency Britain, say 1813, and you want to claim copyright in your music. What do you do? Well, if you have a publisher, they might submit it to Stationers’ Hall, where it would be registered. They might not, though. (Some publishers thought they’d have the best of both worlds – they’d print a copyright statement to the effect that it had been entered at Stationers’ Hall, but they wouldn’t actually bother doing so.) In any event, it’s a bit hit or miss.
If you’re self-publishing, then you might consider it in your own interest to register your copyright in the work. After all, by now it’s at least accepted that composers’ work did count as intellectual property and deserved protection. That wasn’t necessarily the case in the mid-18th century!
Copies of music registered at Stationers’ Hall would then be sent to all the legal deposit libraries – the British Museum (which became the British Library), Sion College in London, the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Aberdeen and Trinity College Dublin, the Advocates’ Library (which became the National Library of Scotland), and Kings’ Inns, also in Dublin. Whether the music gets to all these places is also a bit hit or miss! It’s not always sent, not always kept methodically upon arrival, and some libraries don’t want all this music anyway.
Tracing It Today
The Claimed from Stationers Hall project sets out to find out more about what happened to all the Stationers’ Hall music. This is Week 2 of the network’s existence, so you’ve come in right at the start. If you’re interested in early music publishing, library history, or the social, cultural side of the music borrowed from these libraries, then this network is right up your street. Please follow this blog, and the Twitter @ClaimedStatHall, and do let us know if you’re working on anything in any way related to this repertoire!
St Andrews and now Aberdeen
Karen has spent some time exploring the rich archival resources at the University of St Andrews, where the Stationers’ Hall music was sifted through, much was catalogued, and then it was eagerly borrowed by a number of people via the professors’ library memberships. We can trace what was received, find it in a fascinating handwritten catalogue, and even observe who borrowed what.
But what of the other libraries? This week, the magnifying glass focused on the parallel collection in Aberdeen. Work has been done on the documentation of what was received by the library in the 18th century by former librarian and research scholar Richard Turbet, and we can now see what was received in these early years, even if it doesn’t all survive today. (Turbet, ‘Music Deposited by Stationers’ Hall at the Library of the University and King’s College of Aberdeen, 1753-96′, RMA Research Chronicle 30 (1997) pp.139-162)
Roughly half of the surviving copyright music is now in the online catalogue there: at the time of writing, 2062 of an approximate 4400 items in the entire bound Stationers Hall Music collection. How was it used by the community in contemporary Aberdeen, though? The next question is to establish where there are comparable loan records to those in St Andrews. We do know, through Richard Turbet’s work, that there were concerns as to what had happened to the Stationers’ Hall music, in the Aberdeen Censor of 1826. Intriguing!
Catalogues and Conundrums
The union catalogue of UK University and national libraries makes it easy to trace most things so long as they have been catalogued online. However, differences in cataloguing mean that it’s not always as easy as you’d think. Take Gesualdo Lanza’s Elements of Singing in the Italian and English Styles.
Different cataloguing approaches make it a little difficult to untangle, but if you search Lanza, Elements of Singing, you retrieve 16 entries, one of which is just a print portrait. It was published in 1813 – different catalogues have it self-published, published by Button and Whittaker, or indeed printed and sold by Chappell. Around 1819-20, an abridged version appeared, again by Chappell (though the catalogue records don’t all state this the same way), and apparently again in 1826.
So there are at least two if not three basic versions, and you’d expect them each to appear in all the copyright libraries? Think again! Differently styled catalogue records reveal copies of the 1813 publication in Glasgow, St Andrews, Aberdeen, the British Library and Oxford Bodleian, and a copy in York, which was not a copyright library. The other legal deposit libraries don’t have it, unless it’s still not catalogued online. (That’s another interesting question. Some pre-1801 material is definitely not yet catalogued – grant-funding for retro-conversion theoretically took care of (most of) the post 1801 material, just over a decade ago.) In total, the two or three versions of 1813, 1820 and perhaps 1826 yield 16 entries in Copac, which equates to slightly more than 16 copies.
This Was Week 2 of the Project
Besides looking at work already done on the Aberdeen collection, this week has also entailed documentation of some of the conferences and other networks that touch upon the subject of Regency music or library history – see our Useful Linkspage, and do please contact us if there are others we’ve missed! And of course, we’ve been networking. We’ve tweeted and we’ve emailed, and we’re loving the responses we’ve received. Keep in touch!
We’ve also been looking for conference CFPs, and have noted a new one which looks eminently suitable – Collage, Montage, Assemblage: Collected and Composite Forms, 1700-Present. Taking place 18th-19th April 2018 in Edinburgh, a quick read of the conference’s scope makes the bound volumes of St Andrews’ Copyright Music Collection very appropriate artefacts to talk about! An abstract is already being stitched together in mind, if not yet words on paper.
Much of this week’s research time has been spent going through every word of the AHRC application, and listing every outcome that we aspired to in our documentation. A beautiful spreadsheet has thus been born, and will be nurtured most carefully in coming months. The newborn network has a number of conferences in its sightline, but we can’t run before we can walk, so we’ll check some dates and deadlines before we do anything else!
Meanwhile – if you like what you’ve seen here, please do follow the blog, befriend us on Twitter @ClaimedStatHall, get in touch with Karen by email at RCS or even pick up the phone!
This is officially the start of the new AHRC-funded network, Claimed From Stationers Hall. A fuller blogpost will appear within the next 24 hours. Have a wander round the website, and please do get in touch if you’d like to be added to the email mailing list. The topic is the music that was registered at Stationers’ Hall in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries up to 1836, so if you have an interest in music publishing of that era, or indeed anything involving British-published sheet music and its performance, or its documentation whether through conventional bibliographic means or in the context of digital humanities … then we’d love to hear from you!
(Never let a musicologist near a gif! I promise to do better ….)