Academic journal article Notes

Repertoire International Des Sources Musicales A/I: Einzeldrucke Vor 1800 (CD-ROM)

Academic journal article Notes

Repertoire International Des Sources Musicales A/I: Einzeldrucke Vor 1800 (CD-ROM)

Article excerpt

For information regarding the scope of this column, consult the headnote in the September 2012 issue. The dates of access for each review of an online source indicate the dates during which the reviewer was evaluating the resource. All Web sites were last accessed to verify availability on 1 August 2012.

Repertoire International des Sources Musicales A/I: Einzeldrucke vor 1800 (CD-ROM). Kassel: Barenreiter-Verlag, 2011. [Requires an Intel Pentium 4.2 GHz or AMD Athlon XP 1800+ processor or faster; 512 MB RAM or higher; CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive; Windows 2000 (with Service Pack 4) or higher; Firefox 3.0 or Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher. Pricing: [euro]450.]


Repertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM)--as most readers of Notes are aware, and as its title implies--is an ongoing international project attempting to document the existence of musical source materials in libraries around the world. RISM Series A/II inventories music manuscripts from 1600 to around 1800, while Series A/1. the newly published CD-ROM version that is reviewed here. does the same for printed music by individual composers published before around 1800. Series A/I was originally issued between 1971 and 1981 as a set of nine print volumes, with entries arranged alphabetically by composer. An additional four supplementary volumes (also arranged by composer) were published between 1986 and 1999. Finally, a cumulative index was published in 2003, offering access points to publishers, printers, engravers, and places of publication.

The triumphs and shortcomings of RISM A/I are well-documented and well-known. (1) In brief, the triumphs include the unprecedented achievement in bringing some 100,000 (2) historically important publications scattered among twenty-nine countries under some sense of bibliographic control, and opening up new avenues for research. Limitations include: the underrepresentation of certain countries and regions (Asia, Latin America. Africa); the undiscovered sources held in smaller libraries and in private collections; uneven data quality and completeness due to varying bibliographic practices among participating nations; the pragmatic limits on the content that could be considered; a lack of biographical information, including dates, for composers; and incomplete bibliographic descriptions regarding typography, pagination, and so on. (3)

The version of RISM A/I under review here is a database version of the catalog, issued on CD-ROM, the content of which is "essentially identical with that of the book series." (4) Thus the limitations and successes summarized above for the most part apply to the CD-ROM, and so 1 will focus on the workings of the interface rather than the content. However, in this context, "content" should be understood to refer to the works included in the catalog. In fact, the CD-ROM adds content in the form of additional access points, biographical information and variant name spellings for composers, and the inclusion of contact information and Web addresses for participating libraries.


Before moving on to the interface, it is worth saying a few words about the medium. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the publication of an essential reference work on CD-ROM in 2011 has raised a .fair number of eyebrows in the music librarianship community, and .for good reason. The CD-ROM can only be accessed on-site, as the packaging states explicitly it may not be lent. IL is only compatible with Windows machines. CD-ROMs are susceptible to damage and loss. The choice to issue the database on CD-ROM is all the more confounding considering RISM Series A/II has long been available as a networked database first through NISC, then through EBSCO, and most recently through a free online catalog. (5)

The decision to publish on CD-ROM turns out to be pragmatic. The project to convert the print volumes to a database began in 2004. Manually inputting the data would take a fair amount of labor and financial resources. …

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