ButWhat Does it all Mean?!
Every picture tells 1000 words? Every picture tells 100 words?
■ University of St Andrews
■ Professors, Students, Friends
■ Women borrowing music
■ (And women cataloguing music as
early as 1824!)
10. Library History
■ Who borrowed what, when?
■ What music was popular, and for
■ Can we plot patterns of borrowing
eg by professors, students, friends
■ Or compare use of music by men and
women, even single compared to
14. The bigger picture: What did happen to all
the legal deposit music?
Image from British Library Flickr
15. What music was registered, and what
16. Time to seek grant-funding
■ AHRC Networking Grant
■ Visit all former legal deposit libraries (actually, a few are still legal deposit libraries)
■ Study Day
■ Bibliography of literature and archival resources
17. Sharp learning curve – “Grant-writing”
■ Je-S website
■ Case for Support
■ Justification of Resources
■ Impact Summary
■ SHORT! CV
■ SHORT! Publications list
My career has been in music librarianship, but musicology is my overwhelming passion. So it’s hardly surprising that after my PhD, I couldn’t abandon research. I’m lucky I can now combine librarianship with research to a certain extent. And it does mean I understand what researchers need, too!
After the PhD, I was seconded as a postdoc researcher to an AHRC-funded project with the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge. My doctoral research into Scottish song collecting was now counterbalanced with 18th century Scottish fiddle music.
Pursuing my own path after this, I’ve been spending my Wednesdays researching historical British legal deposit music.
My time has been split between field trips to the University of St Andrews, then sifting through the copious amounts of data I’ve amassed about their 18th and 19th century music collection, writing and talking about it. It’s been interspersed with learning how to write a grant application, to extend the scope of my research.
Antique dealers talk about Queen Anne legs, but I’m more concerned with her Copyright Act of 1709-10. All books had to be registered at Stationers’ Hall in London to protect the author’s copyright; nine libraries got legal deposit copies. It took decades to establish that music also had copyright, and not all music was actually registered.
The St Andrews professors decided what to keep. Someone sorted it into rough categories, eg piano music, songs, or harp music, then it was bound. Some books combined different criteria, like vol.40, which contained Napoleonic War songs, songs by composed by women, and indeed, some war songs composed by women.
A lot of archival documentation survives at St Andrews - all the senate committee meetings, registers of when the legal deposit books and music arrived, bills for binding, borrowing ledgers, and a handwritten music catalogue written by a professor’s niece in 1824. We can build up a detailed picture both of the music stock and the borrowers.
Music was borrowed by professors, a few students, and the professors’ friends. I’ve looked at the types of music in each volume, and I’ve tried to work out who borrowed which categories. This slide is a wordcloud derived from some of the instructional material – methods for learning music, whether instrumental, vocal or theory books.
These graphs focus on instructional material, to see whether men and women borrowed different material. The first graph was too detailed. The other summarises which books were often borrowed by men, which by women, and which attracted most general interest.
This gives a rough idea, even if we don’t know which bits of each bound volume were the main attraction.
Many stories are waiting to be unearthed, about the leisure interests of the professors and their social circle. Friends of both sexes borrowed on the professors' library accounts. Undergraduates were young teenagers at this time; only a few borrowed music. However, unmarried women were very keen borrowers. And one was a cataloguer!
Studying this collection has led me into library and social history. By investigating who borrowed what, and when, I'm finding out about the popularity of particular music. National songs were certainly in demand! But I can also trace patterns in library usage eg by professors or their friends, male or female, and single or married women.
This graph represents every music loan to the professors' friends between 1801 and 1849. The highest, solid line shows an overview. Borrowing rose sharply then declined when the library stopped getting legal deposit music.
Unmarried women initially borrowed the most. Later on, men borrowed more, and more married than unmarried women used the library.
I'm also analysing each volume's unique borrowing history. If I can incorporate my brief analysis of each book's contents, the results will be quite interesting. For example, piano, vocal and harp music were popular. But what about other instrumental music? And how do didactic collections compare with the rest? I’m aiming for this kind of graph!
So, what’s next? Yes, there are almost certainly more stories to be teased out of individual volumes. I’d like to find out how often the books containing women’s compositions were borrowed, and to see what the most popular books contained. I’d like to know more about local music-making, too. But the most important question is, what about the bigger picture?
You know the Ikea advert of clothes flying home to orderly drawers? I visualise the music winging its way to the university libraries. But the key question is this:- what happened next? If music survived in St Andrews, what about the other libraries? Do they too hold archival data to inform us about their own music collections – or lack of them?
Various records tell us what was originally registered. Michael Kassler drew on Stationers’ Hall records and another briefer register, to produce his bibliography, shown here. Copac shows us what is catalogued online in today’s university and national libraries. But not all of it is online.
I’ve just applied for an AHRC networking grant , in order to bring together interested scholars and librarians to share knowledge, ideally to participate in a study day. We need to know where all the resources are, who has studied which aspects so far, and to consider future broader projects.
In recent months I’ve experienced the sharp learning curve associated with “grant-writing”. The Je-S (Joint Electronic Submissions) website is used to apply for grants with various Research Councils. It’s incredibly complicated; the various pieces of writing have strange and mysterious names, the financial calculations are detailed; and the rules are stringent.
I aim to create an interdisciplinary network of people – musicologists, bibliographers, and librarians interested in both historic music and rare books. I also hope to attract historians of libraries, of printed books and cultural historians. Most importantly, I need people interested in the digital humanities; the British Library has already done ground-breaking work demonstrating how much bibliographic data can reveal.
I’ve spent the past 15 months networking furiously, giving talks to various groups – eg at St Andrews, at the Edinburgh Bibliographic Society and at an RMA Scottish Chapter Colloquium, twice performing songs from Vol.40. I’ve spoken at conferences and study days, I’ve met with various people in St Andrews; and I’ve emailed, blogged and tweeted enthusiastically.
So now I’m playing the waiting game. If my first grant-writing attempt is unsuccessful, I’ll be starting all over again – finding suitable grants to apply for and working out what to write.
If I’m successful, be assured I’ll hit social media with unprecedented enthusiasm! Either way, please watch this space. And here’s where to find me …