|Materials | Locating | Documenting|
A number of tools exist to help locate music manuscripts and early editions. The most important is Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM), but there are also books cataloguing the sources specific to a particular time and place.
The British Library Catalogue of Printed Music has recently become available via the general online catalogue and is a useful guide to their extensive collection. Music manuscript holdings are listed in the MS catalogue. The CPM and catalogue of the Boston Public Library are also available in hardcopy in the music library.
The Primmus system has recently been mounted on Buddy and provides an useful guide to the extensive Harvester collection of music manuscripts on microfilm, most of which is held by the Music Library.
RISM covers musical material to about the year 1850. It is published in three series. Instructions on how to use the volumes are given at the beginning of each volume.
Series B is devoted to manuscripts and prints which contain works by more than one author, and to theoretical treatises.
RISM also maintains an online Libraries Directory, which identifies more than 5,500 libraries world-wide that hold music materials relevant to RISM series. All libraries are identified by name and RISM siglum. Other information provided can include: address, phone/fax numbers, links to relevant Internet resources, and literature about the library.
All RISM volumes which list printed material follow the same basic format:
 SENFL (SENFEL, SENFFEL, SENFL) Ludwig  Magnificat octo tonorum. -- Nürnberg, Hieronymus Formschneider, 1537. - St.  [S 2807]  A Wn(kpl.:S,A,T,B) -- B Br (fehlt B) -- D-brd Kl (fehlt A), Mbs -- D-ddr Rou
 gives the composer's name, together with variant spellings.
 gives the title of the work, publication details, and format. St = Stimmbücher = partbooks Chb. = choirbook, a single-volume format.
 gives the number assigned to the print by RISM
 lists sigla for libraries which hold copies of the print. A list of library sigla can be found is the RISM online Library Directory. The first element in the siglum is the country: A = Austria; the second is the city and the library within that city: W = Wien = Vienna; n = Österreichische Nationalbibliothek = Austrian National Library. The material in the brackets tells you whether or not the copy is complete: kpl. = complete; here the material after the colon tells you that a complete copy consists of 4 partbooks, the Superius, Altus, Tenor, and Bassus. All other copies are assumed to be complete unless stated otherwise (fehlt B = missing Bassus).
All RISM volumes which list manuscript material follow the same basic format, and so a single example will help make this clear. Series B IV/5 contains the following entry:
 MILANO. Biblioteca Ambrosiana I-MA 519 = city. library. = RISM siglum
 Ms. Trotti 519 = number assigned to the manuscript by the library.
 bibliographical information on the manuscript, such as date, number of folios, type of material, size, foliation, type of notation, staves per page, whether or not the manuscript is complete (here, Partie de T seult. = tenor partbook only).
 scholarly data on provenance
 contents a 1. f. 1-3v [S: -4-2, 0+1] b [Carpentras] c Cantate domino canticum novum... d [4vx.] e CMM 58,V
a.number of work in MS. physical location in MS (folio numbers). musical
incipit of superius by interval movement (initial note, then down 4, then
down 2, etc).
b. text incipit (that is, the opening words of the text) c.
c. number of voices
d. a modern edition of this motet (found in volume 5 of Corpus mensurabilis musicae 58)
Other Tools for Locating Music Sources
Hamm, Charles, and Herbert Kellman, eds. Census-Catalogue of Manuscript Sources of Polyphonic Music 1400-1550. Renaissance Manuscript Studies 1. Neuhausen-Stuttgart: American Institute of Musicology, 1979-1988. 5 volumes.
This important work is a catalogue of all manuscripts containing polyphonic music written between 1400 and 1550. It thus supplements RISM. The composer index is found in volume 5, pp. 111-256. The manuscript sigla, for example MunBS 10, are listed alphabetically in volumes 1-4. The first part of the siglum (the first letter and the following lower case letters) tells you the name of the city in which the manuscript is housed: here 'Mun' = Munich. The next letters tell you the name of the library: 'BS' = Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. The rest of the siglum gives you an abbreviated call number of the manuscript in that library: '10' = Music Manuscript 10.
Daniel, Ralph T., and Peter Le Huray, comps. The Sources of English Church Music 1549-1660. Early English Church Music Supplementary Volume 1. London: Stainer and Bell, 1972. 2 vols.
An explanation of how to use the volumes and a list of sigla are given on pages vi-xix of Part 1.
Hofman, May, and John Morehen, comps. Latin Music in British Sources c1485-c1610. Early English Church Music Supplementary Volume 2. London: Stainer and Bell, 1987.
An explanation of how to use the volume is given on pages x-xi.
Brown, Howard Mayer. Instrumental Music Printed Before 1600: A Bibliography. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965. This is an invaluble and well-indexed bibliography of all instrumental music printed before 1600.
This is an index to the Harvester microfilm collection of unpublished Music manuscripts from the great English collections.
Primmus allows you to search (by title, composer, keyword, MS no, etc) the manuscripts in the collection. It will give you a part number and reel number for a particular manuscript. A laminated sheet in the music library provides call numbers for each reel.
It is theoretically possible to access it from computers outside the Music Library, but installation is far from easy. You will need a password to access Primmus: it will be emailed to you automatically upon provision of your surname and library barcode.
|Created: Feb 2000: Last modified: 15 March, 2004
Maintained by: S.Cole, email@example.com