Celebrating Sharing: how having our records on two platforms not only broadens our reach, but deepens insight

The Moravian Music Foundation preserves, shares, and celebrates Moravian musical culture.

Much of my job over the last four years has been assisting in bringing the catalog of the Moravian Music Foundation online. Our OCLC Worldcat catalog is called GemeinKat. This allows anyone in the world to search our holdings of over 10,000 manuscripts and early editions, thus it addresses the “shares” part of our mission statement.

However, we have also decided to make our holdings accessible in RISM (Répertoire International des Sources Musicales), an international database of music manuscripts and early printed editions in libraries, archives, monasteries, schools, and private collections.

Recently I had an article published which detailed how we used pre-existing records in RISM to upload to OCLC for our GemeinKat catalog. Once editing and subject heading enhancements were made, we overlaid records back to RISM (“The Moravian Music Foundation Experience Using Bibliographic Records Downloaded from RISM,” Fontes Artis Musicae, vol. 64 no. 4 (October-December, 2017): pp. 355-366). This summer I had the opportunity to share this at the IAML (International Association of Music Libraries) Congress in Leipzig, Germany.

Having our records available on two platforms (OCLC and RISM) does more than broaden our coverage. There is a complementary aspect to our presence on both platforms. When our card catalog was created in the 1970s, the librarians/musicologists added musical incipits: the opening measures of music, so you would see what the melody of the work was. Currently there is no way to display musical incipits in OCLC (GemeinKat). RISM, on the other hand, does have the capability not only to display musical incipits, but also to search them. This has allowed us to identify, and sometimes correct, attributions to composers and works.

Both platforms allow us to embed URLs to link records from one platform to the other. This means if you find a record in one database it will link you to the corollary in the other, Let’s see some examples:

H 281 GemeinKat

Perhaps you located the record above by searching for settings of John 3:16, or by searching for an anthem based on a Daily Text. In the GemeinKat record you will see information about the music manuscript, but there is no musical incipit. If you click on the link provided at More information which says “RISM catalog record with musical incipits,” you’ll be directed here:

H 281 RISM OPAC top

As you can see, much of the same bibliographic information is still there, but now you have musical incipits which display how the accompaniment begins as well as the Soprano 1 opening measures. The Read online button near the top will link back to the GemeinKat record.

Then, if you scroll down, you’ll see some other interesting options:

H 281 RISM OPAC bottom

In the Notes field, you’ll see a couple links where we have provided images of the title page and the first page of Herbst’s full score:

H 281 ms title page

(detail of title page)

H 281 ms fullscore

(first page of full score in Johannes Herbst’s hand)

We will not be uploading images for every record, but we have uploaded some images to provide examples of our holdings.

Hopefully our efforts to provide information about our holdings will inspire musicologists, musicians, and students to contact us to learn more about our music; and perhaps they will produce new editions like I did for this work:

Also hat Gott

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Moravian Festivals Days Included in Records

Some of the manuscript sources designate a special festival day at which an anthem or series of anthems were sung. For example, at the top of the score of an anthem by Johannes Herbst the inscription reads:

Lobet den Herrn alle seine Heerscharen No. 333
Zur Einweyhung des neuen Kirchensaales in Litiz am 13.ten Aug. 1787 

This attribution merits subject headings for consecration of the new church Saal and for the Moravian August 13th Festival.  The list below provides the searchable subject headings used in records these Moravian collections. A full list of festivals of the Moravian Church Year includes these festivals as well as other festivals (Christmas, Easter, etc.). These phrases can be search in GemeinKat as a subject (su: Widows Covenant Day (Moravian Church)).

April 30           Widows Covenant Day (Moravian Church)

May 4              Single Sisters Covenant Day (Moravian Church)

May 12            Adoption of the Brotherly Agreement and Statutes (Moravian Church)

June 4              Older Girls Covenant (Moravian Church)

June 24            Little Boys Covenant Day (Moravian Church)

August 13       August 13th Festival (Moravian Church) [Spiritual Renewal]

August 17       Children’s Festival (Moravian Church)

August 19       Mission Festival [or other days]

August 29       Single Brothers Covenant Day (Moravian Church)

September 7    Married Choir Covenant Day (Moravian Church)

November 13  November 13th Festival (Moravian Church) [Chief Elder celebration]

Finding an aria within an oratorio and other such dilemmas

Moravian music collections are a mixed bag of printed editions, manuscript copies of printed editions, manuscripts of original music, manuscripts of excerpts and contrafactum.  By contrafactum I mean the substitution of one text for another without substantial change to the music. So these collections require access to all music down to the lowest movement level. This is essential for vocal music and slightly less essential for instrumental music.

For example, it is not uncommon to identify a favorite chorus from a Johann Heinrich Rolle oratorio, which has been copied as an anthem, perhaps the text has changed and maybe even the choral voicings (such as, SATB to SSTB). Some of these excerpts or contrafactum were copied and appear in multiple collections among the settlement congregations, including Bethlehem, Nazareth, Lititz and Lancaster in Pennsylvania, Dover in Ohio and Salem in North Carolina. The anthems were used during worship services, Singstunden or Love Feasts.

The question for catalogers is how to provide access to all the music, including sub-units such as movements of a larger work.  The answer leads to a complicated, multi-pronged solution.  First, all movements music be cataloged to gain access to the smaller sub-units; secondly, all movements must include musical incipits.  Matching musical incipits is the best way to identify musical works — independent from the texts. Musical  incipits are printed in standard music notation. They typically feature the first few bars of a piece, often with the most prominent musical material written on a single staff.  Here is an example from RISM.  In another post we will dive into musical incipits.

So, if the catalogers are providing complete access to all the music, what cataloging guidelines have been used?

  • Since we wanted to convert all information on the paper cards to online records, we chose OCLC and RISM as the two bibliographic utilities which are the best sources for discovery (bibliographic and musical).
  • Instrumental works are cataloged on one bibliographic record, with the movements noted in the table of content field (field 505) and the musical incipits encoded for each movement in separate fields (field 031).
  • Vocal works are cataloged on multiple bibliographic records, with one “parent” record for the entire work and separate “child” bibliographic records for each movement.  We include all movement titles in the “parent” table of contents (field 505), while the musical incipits are included in the “child” bibliographic record for each movement. The child record also includes additional subject access depending on the item. For example, subject headings, such as “sacred songs” or “choruses, sacred” or “canons, fugues, etc. (chorus), are added to child records.
  • The parent and child records need to be linked together, showing the relationship and providing access to each.
  • Sometimes, the manuscripts include hand-written notes with an alternate text, which is noted on the bibliographic records.  Sometimes, only the alternate text is given on the manuscript; in this case the musical incipit is the way to identify and bring together like works.
  • Use the parent/child bibliographic records model for collections of unrelated works too.

In our online catalog, GemeinKat/WorldCat Discovery, the feature of linking the parent and child records for display is still under construction.  In the RISM catalog the linking of parent and child records is an important feature (and is very cool).

An example of parent/child bibliographic records for a collection is illustrated well with the collection Zum großen Sabbath, 1768.  Johannes Herbst (a collection of 9 sacred songs). At the bottom of the page there is a list of the 9 sacred songs, each linked to an individual record for each song. Each individual song is, in turn, linked to the parent record.

 

Definition of Terms

GemeinKat: GemeinKat is the name of the online catalog for the Moravian Music Foundation. It is the catalog of the “Gemeinde” or the community; the 18th and 19th century communities include Salem, NC, Bethlehem, PA, Nazareth, PA, Lititz PA, Lancaster, PA, Dover OH.  The online catalog uses OCLC’s WorldCat Discovery customized for our use, but connected to the entire WorldCat.

Musical incipit: Musical incipits are printed in standard music notation. They typically feature the first few bars of a piece, often with the most prominent musical material written on a single staff.

 

 

RISM: The International Inventory of Musical Sources – Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM) – is an international, non-profit organization which aims for comprehensive documentation of extant musical sources worldwide. These primary sources are manuscripts or printed music, writings on music theory, and libretti. They are housed in libraries, archives, monasteries, schools and private collections. A copy of the records from GemeinKat are being loaded into the RISM online catalog.

Conversion has begun

GemeinKat: catalog of the Moravian Gemeinde or community

Conversion has begun at the Moravian Music Foundation, but we are not talking about a religious conversion — rather a conversion from catalog records on paper converted to online records in a new web catalog. Barbara Strauss and David Blum, catalogers for this project, started working on two tracks — working on the Research Library and working on the manuscript collections from the vaults.

As David worked his way through the Research Library collection, he integrated books from the Moravian Music Foundation with the books from the Southern Province Archive into one collection ordered by Library of Congress call numbers.  Each volume, however, retains a mark for the Archives or the Foundation.  David has found some real gems, which Nola Knouse will explore at one of the lunch lectures in the future.

Barbara worked with staff from Backstage Library Works in Provo, Utah as they converted the catalog records for the manuscripts and early music imprints.  This is a high-tech, high-touch job.  Barbara created specifications for each collection to create a consistent record with all the Moravian and musical points of identity. Catalog cards or book catalogs were scanned; catalogers at Backstage Library Works created records according to specifications; records were checked for quality assurance; finally the records were added to the largest library database in the world — WorldCat.org.  From WorldCat.org, the Foundation will create the new web catalog.

What will all this conversion work do?  There is not one answer to that question.  As this project progresses, we will discover many benefits to this conversion work.  Let me start with one. On the Foundation’s webpage Research at the Moravian Music Foundation, Nola discusses a broad array of research topics and approaches. All of this is based on the assets found in the Winston Salem and Bethlehem vaults.  This conversion work will facilitate research on these topics and topics we haven’t dreamed of yet.