New sheet music in the library – more jazz, more full scores and more opera!

South LibraryYou may recall that last year we endeavoured to strengthen our holdings of contemporary music; over 100 contemporary works were added to the collection.This year we’ve turned our attention to jazz, opera and full scores.

Our jazz section has been enhanced with new music by composers such as Oliver Nelson, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Bob Brookmeyer, Kenny Wheeler and Herbie Hancock, as well as a host of anthologies, instruction manuals and transcription books.

Over 100 full scores, study scores & miniature scores have been added to the collection. Look out for new music by composers such as Toru Takemitsu, Nicholas Maw, Rodion Shchedrin, Harrison Birtwistle, Harry Partch, Steve Reich, Iannis Xenakis, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann, as well as newly published editions of standard repertoire.

We hope our singing students will benefit from the many new vocal scores in the library. These range from 19th and early 20th century operas – composers such as Massenet (“Sapho”), Rouselle, (“La Testement de la tante Caroline”), Ibert (“Angelique”) and Verdi (“Oberto”) – through to contemporary works by Peter Eotvos (“Love & Other Demons”), John Adams (“Doctor Atomic”) and Dominick Argento (“Christopher Sly” & “Postcard from Morocco”).

We will be furthering the development of our vocal section in the coming year. This time the focus will shift to smaller scale works, in particular the library’s collection of solo songs & collections.

Keep checking the Library Info section of the catalogue for our most recently added titles

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback.


Exciting new library donations

​​​​​​​We have been fortunate in recent weeks to have received a number of generous donations of printed music. The library office is definitely filling up with boxes!  The first of the recent donations was mostly cello music belonging to the late Brian Meddemmen which had been stored for a number of years in a garage in Australia! I was slightly apprehensive that we might find a surprise in the form of some Australian wildlife in amongst the boxes, but, to our relief, nothing has crawled/jumped/slithered out yet! Also luckily for us, this donation had already been partially sorted into categories, e.g. ‘standard/more well-known cello repertoire’, ‘more obscure cello repertoire’ and ‘chamber music including cello(s)’. Using most of the library office floor, I’ve sorted through one of the boxes so far, putting the music into alphabetical order by composer so we can quickly see what’s there. This is especially useful if someone puts in a request for a piece of cello music which we don’t have, as we can quickly check if it’s in the donation.

Just a couple of boxes of the recent cello donation - full of hidden gems!

Just a couple of boxes of the recent cello donation – full of hidden gems!

The next step is for us to check each item against our library catalogue. We will then make a note of whether we have it in stock. If we do already have a copy, we’ll also note whether it’s a different edition, how many copies we have and how many times the item has been out on loan. One of the librarians (usually Helen!) will then make a decision based on this and the condition of the item as to whether we will add it to the collection, or whether we will pass it on to students and staff for a nominal sum. This money would then be used to buy new items for the library.

Take for example the Dvorak Cello Concerto edited by Janos Starker. We already have one copy of this particular edition of the Dvorak Cello Concerto but as this is such a popular piece and has been borrowed from the library on over 50 occasions, we would probably choose to add a second copy to the collection so there are more copies to go round.

Exciting finds

Lied pour Violoncelle et Orchestre par Vincent D'Indy, Op. 19

Lied pour Violoncelle et Orchestre par Vincent D’Indy, Op. 19

On first inspection there looks to be lots of interesting cello repertoire which we don’t already have in the collection, for example cello sonatas by Grozlez, Tcherepnin, Dietrich and cello concertos by Vanhal, Romberg, Reicha, Borghi and Danzi, to name but a few! Lied by Vincent D’Indy (pictured) was published in 1885 but was only recorded for the first time in 1991 by Julian Lloyd Webber and the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier. We have also discovered an extremely rare piece of music for cello and piano: keep an eye on the Jerwood Library blog to find out more about our exciting find!

Other recent donations include lots of choral music/part songs from a Choral Society in Plumstead, and another generous donation of vocal music which belonged to leading operatic bass, Richard Angas, who died last year.

The library catalogue contains a list of the most recent printed music additions to the library collection.

Building the library’s sheet music collection

Photo of Janacek scores in the Jerwood Library

The library has established a new acquisitions policy on the basis of research recently undertaken in which we compared our collection with the holdings of four other conservatoire libraries in the UK, including the Royal Academy of Music. This showed us clearly where we were well provided and also where we were less well provided. We supplemented this research with feedback from the teaching staff at the Faculty of Music concerning their ideas about deficiencies in our provision.

Our findings have been published in the library’s printed music strategy on Moodle. This year we have been building our collection of vocal music and contemporary music, as the findings of our research indicate that these are two areas to prioritise. Works by Julian Anderson, Frank Zappa, György Kurtág, Harrison Birtwistle, Heinz Holliger, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Elliot Carter, and Jonathan Dove have been added to the collection and there is much more to come. Please see the library info section on the catalogue for the most recent acquisitions.

We are always interested in staff and student feedback so please let us know if there is anything else you would like to see. Should you have a specific piece in mind, purchase recommendation forms are kept at the library enquiry desk and on Moodle. If you’re a student, please get your teacher or another member of Trinity Laban staff to sign the form.

Behind the scenes at the processing desk

It’s the burning question surely on the mind of every undergraduate: What exactly goes on in that mysterious library back office?

The processing table: where it all happens

Well, as a Library Assistant, one of the tasks I spend the most time on when I’m not at the issue desk is processing. This partly involves getting our new stock ready for general circulation (adding all the features that make an item recognizable as belonging to the library: a shelf mark, date label, often some kind of protective cover, and a plethora of stickers and stamps … I won’t list them!). But the aspect of processing work that I enjoy by far the most is repair – bringing back to life our older items that are in need of some TLC. Having worked in medical libraries too (where it’s not unusual for earlier editions of popular resources to be thrown out as soon as a more recent version is available), one of the great pleasures of working in a music library is being able to handle our older stock – sheet music that is often a century or more old – on a day-to-day basis. Despite a fair amount of wear and tear, it’s usually possible to work some restorative magic on these items, and to get them into a condition where they are ready for circulation once more.

Library copy of Bantock’s Hamabdil (Chester, 1919), before repair

For example, this 1919 edition of (Trinity alumnus) Granville Bantok’s Hamabdil for solo cello is a typical example of older stock which – with a small amount of time invested – can once again become usable. I gave it a new shelf-mark label, carefully covered the dog-eared front cover in clear plastic, and secured the frayed and torn edges of each page with our trusty ‘invisible’ tape (clear tape that can still be written over in pencil; ideal for mending sheet music!).

Library copy of Mendelssohn’s Lauda Sion (Novello, c. 1877), front cover

This contact with older items can open up another world, often especially through aspects of a score that are peripheral to the musical content itself. For example, at the processing desk I recently stumbled across this vocal score of Mendelssohn’s Lauda Sion (published c. 1877 by Novello, Ewer & Co). The striking design and typography of the score’s front cover is just the starting point here: on the inside cover we have an advert for The Musical Times, ‘the largest and best Musical Journal in existence … [containing] Occasional Notes on passing events, and accounts of Musical Performances in all provincial towns, as well as those which take place on the Continent, in the Colonies, and wherever the Art is cultivated.’ On the back cover, meanwhile, ‘Messrs. NOVELLO, EWER & Co. beg to announce’ that a list of works, including Mozart’s Requiem Mass and Gounod’s Messe Solennelle ‘may now be had at a uniform rate of ONE SHILLING EACH.’

Exposed manuscript used as spine reinforcement in a library copy of Mendelssohn’s Lauda Sion (Novello, c. 1877)

Exposed manuscript used as spine reinforcement in a library copy of Mendelssohn’s Lauda Sion (Novello, c. 1877)

However, it’s when I look at the necessary repairs for this score that things get really interesting. A number of this copy’s pages have broken away from the book’s binding, revealing the inside of the spine. Seemingly tucked inside the spine is yet more manuscript – a serendipitiously-positioned footer (see image below) informs us that this is part of a Novello score for Handel’s Messiah. Jubilant at this unexpected discovery, I consult our cataloguer Helen, who tells me that sheets of paper (a then valuable commodity) from old copies were often used as binding reinforcement for new books – a practice spanning centuries which has led to discoveries of rare manuscript fragments from 13th-century Notre Dame and medieval Hebrew texts, to name a few. Libraries holding books which contain important fragments in the binding might choose to repair the book in a way that simultaneously conserves and renders visible the fragment in the spine. In our case though, pragmatism won the day, and, somewhat sadly, I sealed up the pages so that the snippet from Handel’s Messiah was once again hidden from view.

As I mentioned earlier, the sense of contact with the past while working at the processing desk often extends beyond the direct content of the item itself. I’m frequently jolted into an awareness of another life lived: old train or concert tickets tumbling out of a score, a piece of typed correspondence tucked away for safekeeping (or perhaps as a makeshift bookmark), a pertinent inscription or detailed marginalia handwritten inside. These layers give a glimpse into the usually hidden story of a book’s use and history; while, simultaneously, the book becomes a vehicle for a brief imagining of another’s life at another time. The fact that this all comes from an enduring physical object held in one’s hand provides a useful reminder of our seemingly unequivocal cascade into digital life, where the nature of our everyday communications (once through physical, tangible objects; now through ephemeral yet supposedly always traceable – although frequently forgettable – digital content) has fundamentally changed. With digital versions of works (e-books; digital music files; and so on), at least as they stand, what you see is what you get: there may be hidden extras inserted by the creator, or online versions which allow commentary (through interfaces such as SoundCloud, for instance), but the digital format doesn’t allow you – within a piece of content that you own, at least – to gain a glimpse of how someone else has used or responded to the work. Perhaps at a time where reviews and comment are available to most of us (whether to write or consume) at a click of a button, this isn’t so important, but I can’t help feeling that with this move from analogue to predominantly digital, something personal is being lost.

On this issue, news of two recent publications has caught my eye; taking dramatically different approaches, both go some way to counter concerns about the sometimes sterile feel of products consumed in our digital world. The first is a recently published novel – S. created by J.J. Abbrams (co-creator of TV series Lost, and the new director of Star Trek) and Doug Dorst (Canongate Books, 2013). The book itself is produced as an old library book, complete with detailed annotations from two different ‘readers’ (who, it turns out, are leaving notes within the book for each other), and is full of loose-leaf ephemera – newspaper cuttings, letters, postcards, and so on – for the reader to explore. Not only is the library book a stand-alone novel, but its annotations and ephemera provide a counter-narrative which explores both the relationship between the book’s two fictional readers, and their collective relationship with the text and author in question. While Mark Lawson, writing in The Guardian, praises the work’s authors for captivating readers through the ‘antihistorical concept of an analogue interactive book’, ironically, librarians have been seriously tested by the publication, in particular by the need to keep track of its masses of ephemera on each loan and return.

My second example is The Mozart Project (Pipedreams Media, 2014), to which Trinity Laban’s John Irving is a major contributor. An interactive book designed for iPad, the project was conceived by two non-musicians, and provides not only 10 chapters on Mozart’s life and works by eminent scholars, but also accompanying audio excerpts, timelines, maps, video interviews with leading Mozart performers, and roundtable discussions with the authors, all in an attractive, easy-to-use format. With so much integrated, high-quality material in a range of media that encourages both sustained, concentrated engagement and ‘dipping in’, the concept offers a sense of discovery not often found in a traditional e-book format. Where a printed, previously-used analogue book might offer flashes of awareness of a previous readership (ephemera fluttering to the floor; annotations in the margins) and, perhaps, the opportunity to critically engage with that readership’s experience of the work, The Mozart Project promises an all-round experience living in the present, with content updates and the opportunity for readers to pose questions to the book’s authors online.

This concept of a living, breathing resource is a compelling one, and in drawing to a close, this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the work currently being undertaken in the digital humanities, which – at its best – unites the sometimes opposing worlds of tangible historical object and accessible, fluid digital media. For example, the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM) provides images of thousands of medieval manuscripts, substantially decreasing people’s obstacles to engaging in these manuscripts through location or cost, while simultaneously creating and archiving digital records of manuscript fragments which may be extremely vulnerable to future deterioration or loss. And, finally, the Online Chopin Variorum Edition (OCVE) takes things a step further, providing access to images of Chopin’s manuscripts and first editions within the structure of a research project which, amongst other questions, aims to interrogate how ‘technology [might] fundamentally alter the musician’s and the musicologist’s understanding of different sources, their often complex interrelationships, and their significance as artistic and cultural artifacts within a rich history of publication, pedagogy, and performance’. The resource is rich in scholarly commentary, but, crucially, the interface also allows users to make their own (public or private) annotations, thereby creating a fluid, ‘dynamic’ edition with limitless finely-granulated variations in overall content.

And so, to return to the original theme of this post, there are interesting times ahead behind the scenes in the music library office. There will always be books and scores to repair, I am sure, and I certainly hope that old train tickets and letters will continue to fall from their pages for many years to come. But the examples I’ve described above give me hope that the inevitable ascendance of the digital sphere will open up more worlds – bright, enthralling, accessible and unifying – that it closes.


Just some of the library CDs!

Just some of the library CDs!

The CD collection here in the Jerwood Library is expanding rapidly thanks to some recent generous donations. Once we checked the donations against what we already had, and what was already available through our online streaming audio collections, we then knew what we needed to keep and what we could pass on to students and staff. Our cataloguer Helen has been busy adding lots of these new CDs to the library catalogue. You can use our online catalogue to see a list of the most recent AV acquisitions. If you are in the library, here at the Faculty of Music, why not have a look at the new items display which is currently full of new CDs (pictured below) and then maybe browse the nearby CDs for sale for just £1 each! The proceeds are used to buy more sheet music, recordings and books for the library collection.

New items shelf full of new CDs!

Did you know that current Trinity Laban students can now borrow up to four CDs for a whole week? This is in part due to our rapidly expanding CD collection in the library, partnered with an ever increasing online streaming collection including Naxos Music Library, Naxos Jazz and Alexander Street Press (Music Online). Why not have a browse at what is available via our online streaming collections and much more by going to QuickSearch.