MusRef Blog

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.

Qualities and Characteristics of Five Major Music Periodical Indexes – By Erin Durham

The diversity of online music periodical databases contributes to research ease and accessibility. A comparison and contrast of the relative strengths and weaknesses of RILM, RIPM, IIMP, the Music Index, and BMS Online illustrates the areas of research each is best suited for. Drawing upon the strengths of each database leads to quality contributions in the field of scholarship. Knowing the unique characters of each helps to make research more effective and efficient.

Each periodical has unique criteria for its coverage by year and the number of sources it contains. The indexing for RILM began in 1967 and continues into the present. It boasts 12,014 indexed journals (as of February 2013) and over 700,000 citations. New citations are added every month. This database has the widest coverage and range of journal sources out of all the periodicals. This is in part due to the fact that RILM indices are compiled by committees in 60 different counties that index music articles from a wide range and variety of periodicals. Thus it contains music topics from a variety of periodicals both within and outside of strict music journals.

Additional periodicals provide areas of coverage that are not indexed by RILM. For example, RIPM covers a span of about 150 years before RILM indexing begins. RIPM is primarily focused on the historic preservation of journals roughly from 1800 to 1950. RIPM contains 189 journals and 684,000 citations. The only other database that offers retrospective indexing into the 1800s is IIMP, which provides select coverage for specific journals. RILM offers retrospective coverage in two areas only: it indexes conference reports to the year 1835 and Festschriften to 1840. RILM has the most extensive coverage for academic sources, while RIPM is the best source for historic research before the 1960s.

The Music Index indicates cover-to-cover indexing of 480 journals, with select coverage for an additional 200. This database begins in 1970, although on its list of periodicals there are a handful of journals that have a few years of retrospective indexing extending into the 1960s. BMS online begins its coverage in the year 1950 and continues to the present. It pulls sources from over 600 journals and holds over 300,000 individual citations. One of BMS online’s unique strengths is its coverage of the gap between the end of RIPM indexing in 1950 and the start of RILM in 1967.

The bulk of IIMP’s coverage is very recent. Most articles referenced begin and 1996 and continue to the present. It covers about 425 journals; on the website listing there were 502 titles of individual periodicals. Finally, IIMP’s citations number over 770,000. 200,000 of these feature articles that were published before 1996, and a few may extend as far back as 1874. IIMP covers a wide variety of popular and classical sources, so it may best benefit a research attempting to over a popular genre such as folk music from the last ten years.

These databases’ contribution to retrospective indexing, access to full text, and quality of abstracts varies as well. As before stated, RILM indexes conference reports and festschriften retrospectively. The Music Index has a few journals with coverage before 1970, but such are very rare. IIMP provides selective access for specific journals for as far back as 1874. However, its main focus is on very recent periodicals. Currently BMS does not have retrospective sources, although its website announces that projects are underway to index articles from the early 20th century. RIPM is entirely retrospective with its analysis from 1800-1950. These periodicals, RILM, The Music Index and RIPM provide full text access to the BYU community through BYU’s subscription to EBSCO host and its holdings. IIMP provides full text access to 140 of its sources, while RIPM allows full text browsing on its online archives. BMS online offers some links to full text articles.

The quality of abstracts differs as well among the periodicals. RILM by far has the best quality of abstracts. Sometimes the abstract is as many as 250 words, and they are often written by the article author or by RILM staff writers. IIMP’s abstracts are generally made up of one to two sentences. The Music Index generally does not include abstracts, although it may rarely have a single sentence description. When BMS online does include an abstract they are generally brief and are predominantly in the German language. RIPM does have some abstracts, although they are not as detailed and thorough as those of RILM.

Some of the databases provide indexing to non-periodical literature. BMS online includes references to scores, festschriften, conference reports, monologues and anthologies. RIML also includes essay collections, conference reports, facsimiles, and festschriften. The Music Index references dissertation abstracts, while RIPM and IIMP are exclusively devoted to periodicals only.

Of the five databases, RILM, BMS and RIPM prove to be the most scholarly in their selection of sources. BMS online is the German contribution to RILM and so the two are similar. RIPM is unique in that advertisements in the journal are indexed for historical research. In contrast, IIMP and he Music Index reference more popular magazines and include many types of reviews. RIPM includes every review for its historical merit. RILM and BMS online are selective, and include only the most scholarly reviews with academic research interest. The Music Index and IIMP are the best sources to find coverage of reviews.

Foreign language sources are most abundant in RILM, which covers 214 languages and 151 countries. BMS online has decent language representation, although it is focused primarily on Western European languages. For its focus on retrospective journals RIPM seeks wide coverage. Its website states that it has indexes in fourteen different languages. From a brief survey of the Music Index periodical titles, it seems that about 100-150 of its journal titles are in different languages, although the exact number is not known. The International Index of Music Periodicals (IIMP) has by far the least extensive foreign language holdings with its claim to journals from only twenty different countries.

It is helpful to know the most outstanding feature of each database. RILM has by far the most extensive international coverage. It contains the best quality abstracts and is unique in its inclusion of music articles from sources outside of core music journals. RILM is generally the best starting point for research.

The Music Index’s strength lies in its extensive coverage of reviews. IIMP also holds a substantial number of reviews, as well as access to full text. For sources between the years 1950 and 1967, BMS online is an essential database as it partially fills the gap between the coverage of RILM and RIPM. BMS online also provides reference to unique sources that may not accessible through other databases. RIPM is unique as the only fully retrospective journal with all its articles being taken from past journals. Thus, RIPM is the perfect source for historical research. In addition, it is the only database that includes the advertising as well as articles and is the only periodical that is indexed journal-by-journal rather than year-by-year.

It is clear from the different dates of coverage, article types, and strengths that each database makes a unique contribution to the body of available research.  Selecting the database that is best suited to your specific query will result in more effecient and effective research.