Category Archives: Publication types

Auction catalogues

Auction catalogues are sources for iconography and history; for example, Christie’s has mounted over 200 auctions of rock and pop memorabilia, issuing catalogues that illuminate the stories of performers and groups as well as events like the Woodstock festival. Other catalogues offer biographical details; a 2003 catalogue from Sotheby’s documents Elton John’s changing taste, while others, like the 1999 catalogue page reproduced above, represent the posthumous dispersal of personal effects—in this case, Yehudi Menuhin’s collection of instruments and bows.

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Filed under Instruments, Popular music, Publication types

Souvenir books

Often souvenir books are considered ephemera: Most libraries do not purchase them. Sometimes, however, they take the form of a book of articles by notable authors; these are treated as essay collections by libraries and by RILM. For example, the souvenir book published by New York’s Metropolitan Opera for their 1988 production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen includes contributions by the musicologists Carolyn Abbate and Barry Millington and the poet and literary critic Richard Howard.

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Filed under Dramatic arts, Publication types, Reception, Romantic era

Multifunctioning publications

Ethnomusicological monographs are often published with transcriptions, photographs, and recordings; the printed texts present the primary information, while the other materials serve a secondary, supporting role. For ethnographic recordings, these functions are reversed: The recordings themselves are the primary concern, and the other materials fill in contextual or technical information.

Some publications occupy the border between these two types, where neither the printed texts nor the other materials can be definitively deemed secondary. The raga guide: A survey of 74 Hindustani ragas, published by Nimbus in 1999, is an example of such a multifunctioning publication. On its four CDs, each rāga is portrayed in a three- to six-minute rendition by a top-ranking performer; this is arguably the primary information, and RILM classified the publication as a sound recording. But the 196-page book in the package is hard to consider merely supportive—it includes analytical and historical notes for each rāga and its performance, including its basic structures shown in both Western and Indian sargam notation; full transcriptions of the ālāp (introductory) sections of each recording; and 40 full-color reproductions of rāgamālā paintings

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Filed under Asia, Ethnomusicology, Iconography, Publication types, Theory

Facsimile editions

Facsimile editions may present reproductions of illuminated manuscripts; they also may document creative processes, like the famously scrawled and blotted manuscripts of Beethoven.

In rare cases facsimile editions provide evidence of collaborative processes; an example is the recent edition by Leo S. Olschki Editore of the working copy of the libretto for Puccini’s Tosca, part of which is pictured above.

With notes in the hands of Puccini, the publisher Giulio Ricordi, and the librettists Luigi Illica and  Giuseppe Giacosa—and the inclusion of pasted-in pages fathfully reproduced as separate, attatched sheets—the edition documents the collaborative process that resulted in one of the landmarks of verismo opera.

Below, Renée Fleming sings Tosca’s signature aria Vissi d’arte.

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Filed under Dramatic arts, Opera, Publication types, Romantic era, Source studies

Technical drawings

Technical drawings of instruments are of interest to instrument builders, organologists, and iconographers—they may also be useful for researchers working on performance practice, theory, or aesthetics. Technical drawings may also be found as freestanding publications issued by museums and collections to encourage reconstructions of the historical instruments that they own.

This example from Athanasius Kircher’s Musurgia Universalis (1650) shows the inner workings of a claviorganum, which Michael Praetorius described in his Syntagma musicum.II: De organographia (1619) as a keyboard instrument in which strings and pipes “sound together to produce a pleasing sound”.

Below, Gustav Leonhardt performs on a claviorganum.

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Filed under Baroque era, Iconography, Instruments, Publication types

Conference reports

Conference reports illuminate intellectual history with a window on a particular moment. Since conference papers present the most current scholarship, a collection from a single conference provides a glimpse of the state of research on many topics at that time.

RILM recently published the papers from our first conference in Music’s intellectual history, and our retrospective coverage of conference reports, Speaking of Music: Music conferences, 1835–1966, was issued in 2004. The preface to the latter book provides an overview of this publication type.

The photo above is from the American Musicological Society‘s International Congress of Musicology in 1939. Standing: Harold Spivacke, Otto Kinkeldey, Otto Gombosi, Knud Jeppesen, Fernando Liuzzi, Gustave Reese. Seated: Edward J. Dent, Carleton Sprague Smith, Curt Sachs, Alfred Einstein, Dayton C. Miller.

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Filed under Musicologists, Publication types

Dance journals

Although they rarely focus directly on music, articles in scholarly dance journals are often important sources for music researchers. Ethnomusicologists regularly find that their work intersects with that of ethnochoreologists, and music historians increasingly turn to publications by dance historians for information on choreographers, performers, and productions, from the court of Louis XIV to the Ballets Russes to music videos.

RILM is currently working to complete its coverage of three leading dance journals—Dance research, Dance chronicle, and Dance research journal.

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Filed under Dance, Publication types

Music magazines

Music magazines fly under the radar for many scholars, but they are often the most reliable sources for information about current performers and repertory. Providing interviews, biographical details, and information about works and performances, these periodicals fill the information gap that precedes the publication of scholarly studies on these topics, and they are less likely to perpetuate errors than unconfirmed Internet sources.

Sometimes these magazines also present research that may not be oriented toward making a scholarly point, but may still prove useful for scholarly projects; examples include surveys of the output of small record labels, the musical life of a city, or the history of an institution.

Music magazines covered by RILM include selected publications for Western music and popular music as well as those devoted to less mainstream genres such as blues, world music, and Indian performing arts.

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Filed under Music magazines, Publication types, Reception