Saturday, 30 August 2008

Wrapping up IAML with a German portal

Only a half-intended pun to the post title. No, this is not a new Christo installation, but one of several sculptures in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli which were temporarily wrapped whilst enabling works are being undertaken.

A detail of one of the many frescoes of Pompeii which survived the fires of Vesuvius and now reside in the Museo. One funny anecdote to share was that the museum guards did not want any flash photography (which I can understand) due to conservation reasons. Ironically, there were several museum pieces which had Pulisci mi (clean me) scrawled in the layers of dust which musn't be too good for the longevity and upkeep.

Before leaving for Naples, I actually stumbled across a new musicology portal called
. Little did I know that there would be a poster session by Jürgen Diet on this important resource at the conference. ViFaMusik stands for Virtuellen Fachbibliothek Musikwissenschaft (Virtual Library of Musicology.)

The main portal has an English and German interface but links to other portals and referential databases may be in German only. Some of the highlights include a useful aggregate of music e-journals. Many institutions have brought journals freely available across the web and imported the relevant metadata from places like the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) into their catalogues. Other approaches have opted to include the information in lists such as the Golden Pages of Royal Holloway(

The Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek (EZB) follows this latter approach but with a slightly more refined interface. They have an easily identifiable visual icon (a red/green light traffic) to indicate which are freely available across the web or if it is a licensed resource requiring a subscription. The Golden Pages' list of journals do contain access information but one has to sift through an exorbitant amount of text line by line and would benefit from this type of approach.

Example of the EZB on display.

Another key feature of ViFa Musik is the Bibliographie des Musikschrifttums (BMS) which is a German RILM that provides bibliographic data covering music publications from 1986 to present on everything from journal articles and festschrifts to conference proceedings and monographs. They are now working backwards into the earlier half of the 20th century. To complement research in the early 20th and 19th century there is always the Hofmeister XIX ( which is a searchable interface of the Hofmeister Monatsberichte for the period between 1829-1900. Down the road, I will blog on about this particular resource.

Example of the BMS interface

Another key feature of the website is the portal of databases. The Online-Datenbanken im Datenbank-Infosystem which is similar to the Golden Pages in that it organises resources according to music disciplines but doesn't have the visual stoplight like the EZB. However, it does have a pretty clean look where one distinguishes between frei im Web (freely available) and lizenzpflichtig (requires license).

An example of the DBIS interface

There are almost 140 musicological databases in the interface which is maintained by the 'musicological section of the DBIS (Databases Information System), a cooperative service for the use of scholar databases offered by the University Library of Regensburg.'

Lastly, but with just as much significance, what portal would be complete without a section for digitisation projects being undertaken. ( Initiatives are underway to digitise the critical editions of Franz Liszt (Carl Alexander) and Georg Friedrich Händel (Chrysander's 1858-1902 edition) and the periodical, Zeitschrift für Instrumentenbau. Below you can see an example of the score of the opening bars of Liszt's symphonic poem Prometheus:

As you can see the portal is filled with lots of interesting features. If you want to follow future contributions to the database, there is an RSS feed available. Once you subscribe you will be able to see what new sheet music digitisations are being converted by the Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. If RSS subscription is still a little mysterious, I will be blogging quite shortly about its features and how to get the most out of it!

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