MusRef Blog

The Roud Folk Song Index

SteveRoud_180The Roud Folksong Index is Steve Roud’s monumental labor of love, now supported and hosted by the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library in London. It guides users to published and manuscript folk song scores, texts, and recordings. By searching the index, researchers can use the provided information to find the music and/or text of folk songs in a library collection.

The index now includes over 191,000 references to songs that have been collected from oral tradition in the English language. Its database, searchable by one or multiple fields, includes fields for song title, tune name, first line of text, source type (broadside, book, etc.), source reference, bibliography reference ID (with a link to complete bibliographic information), previous source, performer, place collected, date collected, collector, contents (text and/or music, number of verses), date added, Roud number, other number, subjects, broadside printer, broadside location, notes and Roud ID number.

Probably the largest English-language folk song index in the world to date, this online source is indispensable for those searching for written or recorded versions of traditional songs from the English-speaking world. It is freely available on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website.

The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire

gioia jazzTed Gioia’s guide to the jazz standards for is a supremely useful handbook, especially for jazz students and aspiring musicians. It was inspired by his own early days when, he explains, everybody expected him to know “the standards” but nobody would give him a list. Gioia designed this guide to give young players the opportunity to obtain this knowledge of the repertoire that they would need in order to succeed.

Arranged alphabetically by tune name, it covers about 250 of the most performed jazz tunes of all time. Each entry provides the composer, lyricist, recommended recordings, and a short essay that typically covers historical background, characteristics, and associated performance traditions and trends. The recommended recordings, of which there are ten or so for each tune, are carefully selected to include a broad range of styles.

Abraham Myler, research assistant

Musical America: International Directory of the Performing Arts

Musical AmericaThe Musical America directory, published annually by ABC Leisure Magazines, is useful for a broad range of classical musicians. High school and college students can use it to find summer programs and colleges to attend, composers can use it to find potential publishers for their works, young performers can look up competitions to apply to, and more.

The directory lists publishers, managers, orchestras, opera companies, choral groups, dance companies, performing arts series, festivals, arts administration degree programs, agents, summer camps, workshops, competitions, music schools and departments, special music programs, foundations and awards, commercial services and products, record companies, non-profit services and professional music organizations, state arts agencies, facilities, music magazines, newspaper music critics, and radio stations. Coverage includes both American and international entries, and the directory is organized by region.

Abraham Myler, research assistant

The Music of Georges Auric: A Documented Catalogue in Four Volumes


AuricGeorges Auric, a twentieth-century French composer and member of Les Six, wrote a great deal of music for the concert hall as well as for the stage, film and television. In his four-volume thematic catalogue of Auric’s music, Carl B. Schmidt covers Auric’s concert, stage and screen music. It was published in 2013 by The Edwin Mellen Press.

Entries are ordered by catalogue number and provide title, movements, date, dedication, incipit of text, instrumentation, location of holograph manuscript, printed editions, signed copies, duration, and information on the first performance. Volume four contains appendixes, including chronological lists of projects and inventories of manuscripts. It also contains a bibliography and four indexes: Compositions or Unrealized Projects, Song Titles and First Lines, Compositions and Titles not by Georges Auric and a general index.

Abraham Myler, research assistant

Vocal Chamber Music

Vocal Chamber MusicVocal chamber music carries a rich tradition in Western music and has proven to be a highly versatile genre.  In 1985, Barbara Winchester and Kay Dunlap compiled an extensive repertoire guide to this broad form, approaching it from a unique angle that extends beyond simply music for one voice and a piano. Twenty-three years later, a new and updated edition has been released, providing additional resources for vocal chamber music performers.

One item of particular interest is the specific instrumentation that is targeted in this volume.  Entries included in this edition are exclusively collaborative in nature; the selections require one to twelve voices as well as one to twelve additional instruments other than piano or guitar.

Included titles were written as early as 1650, and span until 2005. The inclusion of voicing, instrumentation, date, and publisher adds a rich context to titles that are sometimes very obscure. To aid readers further, the authors include an index of music sources for locating scores from publishers that no longer exist.

This volume will particularly be useful for vocalists and voice teachers searching for new repertoire for concerts and recitals – particularly if they desire components of increased collaboration and variety.

Hannah Johnson, research assistant

The Oxford Dictionary of Music

oxford dictionary 6thThe Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, a long-time standard music reference source, has received an upgrade with its latest edition, renamed the Oxford Dictionary of Music.

The sixth edition contains over 10,000 entries total, spanning the history of Western music and covering various musical topics, including theory terminology, major works and composer names, and musical instruments.  The dictionary also provides references to useful websites associated with some entries. The authors have included appendices for non-English terms and common musical abbreviations.  An online dictionary supplement, included with purchase of the dictionary, provides additional materials.

Writers Michael and Joyce Bourne Kennedy and editor Tim Rutherford-Johnson have broadened the scope in this expanded edition.  It includes 250 new entries to increase coverage of popular music, ethnomusicology, sound technology, and contemporary composers. Hundreds of preexisting entries have also been reviewed and updated.

Both scholars and amateurs alike will appreciate this update as they explore a variety of current and evolving topics.

Hannah Johnson, research assistant

Songwriter’s Market

2014-songwriters-marketThis industry directory provides songwriters at every level of experience with contact information and submission guidelines for companies in the music industry to whom they can submit demos in order to obtain contracts. Writer’s Digest Books publishes it annually.

Most of the companies listed are based in the United States, though there is some international coverage, especially in the Canadian market. While the directory is intended mainly for popular songwriters, one of the sections, titled “classical performing arts,” covers performing organizations like choirs and orchestras that are looking to commission works in the classical style.

The other seven sections of the directory include music publishers, record companies, record producers, managers and booking agents, music firms, play producers and publishers, and concerts and awards. Entries provide the company name, openness to submissions, contact information, year established, staff size, release frequency, method of payment, distribution vehicles, guidelines for submissions, music types sought, and recent releases by the company.

Before the main directory, each issue includes essays that guide less-experienced songwriters through various aspects of the profession, for example, ways to create more variety in lyrics, common pitfalls, and rip-off company types to watch out for.

Born to Play: The Ruby Braff Discography and Directory of Performances

BraffRuby Braff, a celebrated jazz trumpeter/cornetist with a professional performing career that spanned from the 1940s to the early 2000s, was a prolific and dedicated musician. Though not a household name like Benny Goodman or Louis Armstrong, his work commands the same level of respect from jazz performers and enthusiasts alike.

This discography by Thomas P. Hustad attempts to document all of Braff’s recordings (issued, unissued, and private) and performances. While the author admits that the goal was impossible to achieve, he did manage to create an extensive and thoroughly researched catalogue, over 600 pages long, that will be an valuable resource for those interested in Braff’s life and music.

In addition to providing standard discographical and biographical information, many of the entries contain a few paragraphs of enlightening or anecdotal information concerning the recording or performance, including stories from Braff and quotes from his colleagues and friends. These additions make the discography a fascinating read and an effective biography as well.

Abraham Myler, research assistant

Welsh Traditional Music

WelshMusicLargePhyllis Kinney’s survey of the traditional music of Wales is the first such book to be published since 1932.  It simultaneously fills a notable void in musicology and provides us with a fresh look at a rich tradition.

This detailed, chronological history spanning from the fourth century to the present is a unique resource, with many potential applications. Scholars will find in it helpful explanations of events and historical figures associated with the music of Wales. It also contains many song transcriptions (and a list of printed music collections) that will be of interest to folk-culture enthusiasts, singers, and collectors. The index of musical examples is especially valuable for those interested in the songs themselves.

Kinney, though not Welsh by birth, has effectively adopted this tradition as her own, and is a leading authority in this area. Her husband, Meredydd Evans, is a celebrated performer of traditional music.

Abraham Myler, Research Assistant

BSB Unveils a New Libretto Portal

At the IAML conference in Vienna this past summer, Franz Juergen Goetz of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich unveiled a new “Libretto Portal.” The site is a new search engine to access the scanned libretti from the Christian Her Collection (approximately 5,600 items) and also scanned libretti from the Deutschen historischen Instituts in Rome (about 1,500 items). The holdings of the combined collections date from the 17th through the 20th centuries. The new portal offers enhanced search capabilities over the previous access available through ViFaMusik.

Metadata for the corresponding libretti will be searchable in WorldCat, Europeana, and the HMT Library at Liepzig.

Goetz indicated that future plans include additional indexing of other digitized libretti collections and the possibility of full-text searching.