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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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.