Richard Griscom, Joshua Henry, Deborah Lee, Richard P. Smiraglia, Rick Szostak, and J. Bradford Young, “Classifying Musical Medium of Performance: Object or Property?” Notes 80, no. 3 (March 2024). Abstract: How best to classify musical medium of performance? We welcome the advice and expertise of the community of Notes readers to inform our deliberations. Specifically, when referring to the sources of musical sound, should we be describing the objects (e.g., aerophone) or the properties (e.g., piccolo), or some combination of the two? The Institute for Knowledge Organization and Structure convened a research group to discuss “the phenomena of music for classification.” What does it mean to classify the phenomena of music rather than musical documents or documents containing texts about music? How might we represent music apart from its documentary representations (scores, recordings, etc.)? We considered the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus (LCMPT) and Hornbostel-Sachs (H-S) classification. The universal Basic Concepts Classification (BCC) is interdisciplinary and is organized around phenomena (things), relators (the relationships that exist among phenomena), and the properties that phenomena and relators may possess. We sought a comprehensive classification of medium of performance for the BCC. H-S focuses on the physical nature of instruments and how they make sound, the LCMPT effectively identifies specific instruments by name. H-S does not provide the level of granularity that we need but LCMPT’s larger set of terms are organized with only a few layers of hierarchy. H-S avoids local nomenclature, LCMPT embraces it. The two are attractive because they provide well-developed vocabulary and because their differences manifest as different strengths for a Semantic Web application. Ultimately our analysis reaches no specific conclusion. Instead, we have reflected thoroughly on the panoply of phenomena associated with the representation of medium of performance as phenomena of music in nondocumentary contexts.

“Introduction” to 80th-anniversary issue of Notes 80, 1 (September 2023): 7–14.

“Music Cataloging and Technological Change in the 1980s”, Notes 79, no. 1 (September 2022): 21–42. Abstract: After decades of relative stasis, library technology underwent transformational changes in the 1980s. Over the course of a few years, the introduction of shared online cataloging, the local online public catalog, and electronic mail changed the way librarians did their work and ushered in a period of technological innovation that continues today. The author offers a first-hand account of the impact of these technologies in the 1980s, when he was a graduate student and early-career music librarian.

“MLA-L at Twenty”, Notes (2009) Abstract: MLA-L, the electronic-mail distribution list for music librarians, is now twenty years old. Before the establishment of the list in 1989, professional communication among music librarians was paper based and slow. The growth of computer networks in the early 1980s led to the development of applications to promote group communication, including LISTSERV, an e-mail distribution application released in 1986. With the help of Mary Papakhian, a member of the information technology staff at Indiana University, Ralph Papakhian established MLA-L as the first distribution list on the university’s LISTSERV server. Growth of the list was rapid: by the end of 1995, there were over 1,000 subscribers, and since then the number has slowly increased to over 1,100. The topics of discussion on MLA-L cover all aspects of the profession, and the archives of messages posted to the list provide a rich resource for the study of the history of music librarianship.

“Music Special Collections at the University of Pennsylvania.” Originally published in Philadelphia Music Makers, vol. 3, no. 4 (winter 2004). Can be viewed as either a webpage or PDF document

“Distant Music: Delivering Audio over the Internet”, Notes (2003) Abstract: Advances in audio technology in the 1980s and 1990s made it possible for librarians to create digital copies of sound recordings and to provide off-site access to them through streaming-media servers. Because streaming technology could accommodate heavy use at odd hours from any location, librarians quickly applied the new digital audio technologies to curricular listening assignments, providing a parallel to the print “e-reserves” projects developed by academic libraries during the 1990s. The results of a survey of thirty-nine digital audio reserves projects offers information on streaming formats, streaming rates, access control, user interfaces, staffing, equipment, and costs.

“Periodical Use in a University Music Library: A Citation Study of Theses and Dissertations Submitted to the Indiana University School of Music from 1975-1980”, Serials Librarian (1983) Abstract: In an effort to measure in-house use of music periodicals, a citation study based on bibliographies in theses and dissertations was conducted at the Indiana University Music Library. A total of 256 titles were cited, but only 30% were cited more than once. While the periodical literature cited by musicologists has a low rate of obsolescence, the periodicals cited by theorists and educators becomes obsolete at a rapid rate, making the rate of obsolescence for the field as a whole, fairly high, unlike other subject areas in the humanities.


The Recorder (2012) (with David Lasocki) Third edition, updated and expanded. Winner of the Music Library Association’s 2014 Vincent H. Duckles Award. Second edition, updated and expanded. (2003; out of print). First edition. (1994; out of print). A Choice “Best Academic Book” for 1994.

“Digital Audio in the Library” (2006); full text available as (PDF and LaTeX). An incomplete draft of a book intended to serve as a guide and reference for librarians who are responsible for implementing digital audio services in their libraries. The book is divided into two parts. Part 1, “Digital Audio Technology,” covers the fundamentals of recorded sound and digital audio, including a description of digital audio formats, how digital audio is delivered to the listener, and how digital audio is created. Part 2, “Digital Audio in the Library,” covers digitizing local collections, providing streaming audio reserves, and using digital audio to preserve analog recordings.

The French Music Publisher Guera of Lyon: A Dated List (1987; out of print) (with A. Peter Brown) A history of the firm followed by a descriptive catalog of its publications.

Editorial work

Directions in Music Cataloging (2012) (ed. with Peter Lisius) Ten of the field’s top theoreticians and practitioners address the issues that are affecting the discovery and use of music in libraries today. Anyone who uses music in a library—be it a teacher, researcher, student, or casual amateur—relies on the work of music catalogers, and because these catalogers work with printed and recorded materials in a wide variety of formats, they have driven many innovations in providing access to library materials. As technology continues to transform the discovery and use of music, they are exploring ways to describe and provide access to music resources in a digital age. It is a time of flux in the field of music cataloging, and never has so much change come so quickly. The roots of today’s issues lie in the past, and the first part of the volume opens with two articles by Richard P. Smiraglia that establish the context of modern music cataloging through research conducted in the early 1980s. The second part explores cataloging theory in its current state of transition, and the concluding part looks to the future by considering the application of emerging standards. The volume closes with a remembrance of A. Ralph Papakhian (1948–2010), the most prominent music cataloger of the past thirty years—a figure who initiated many of the developments covered in the volume and who served as a teacher and mentor for all of the contributors.

Five Lines, Four Spaces by George Rochberg (2009) (ed. with Gene Rochberg) Finished just weeks before his death, George Rochberg’s eloquent memoir offers a detailed look at his fruitful life as a composer, publisher, and teacher of music. The volume traces a life immersed in music, with early study under George Szell and Gian Carlo Menotti and later long-term collaborations with the Concord Quartet and commissions for major orchestras and opera companies. Rochberg takes care to describe the intellectual and aesthetic changes that led him down certain paths as a composer, often challenging the conventions of the day. Reflecting on music, aesthetics, colleagues, and the life of the creative mind, Rochberg’s memoir captures not only the spirit but also the intellectual climate of the second half of the twentieth century.

Music Librarianship at the Turn of the Century (2000) Fourteen authors explore the recent past, the present, and the future of music librarianship through an examination of topics of importance to the profession: collection development, preservation, cataloging, technology, copyright, reference, reference sources, user education, music publishing, sound recordings, the antiquarian music market, archives, and education for music librarianship. First published in the quarterly journal Notes, these essays reflect the views of today’s professionals at the fin de siècle. The set of essays is framed by a foreword and afterword by Griscom.

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