Copac and RISM - a natural friendship!

As a musicologist of 18th-19th century British music, and also a music librarian, I think it would be fantastic if all early English printed music indexed by RISM, had those RISM numbers entered in COPAC catalogue records. I have recently started the conversation via social media.


  1. I should explain that the people at RISM are bibliographers indexing early music manuscripts and published music. ...
  2. Meanwhile, COPAC is the combined library catalogues of all the UK's university and national libraries. We call it a union catalogue, and it means we can locate books, music and recordings all over the country, so long as it's in a university or national library. A few other higher education institutions are now also in it - there's a waiting list to get in, I think.
  3. I should explain that I work at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's Whittaker Library - our holdings aren't included, but we still find the detail in Copac hugely useful, and anyone studying rare books will depend upon it to help them locate actual copies of rare treasures. I myself never set out to be a music bibliographer, but I suppose you could say it's one of my strengths, hence my interest in linking some of the data in two of my favourite and most respected online resources.
  4. So look - here are Ignace Pleyel's folk song settings, A Select Collection of Original Scotish Airs - edited by George Thomson and published by Hime in Dublin. See them below, as recorded in RISM ... RISM has locations in the British Library, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, and the Archief van het Kasteel der Graven Bentinck in the Netherlands ...
  5. And now we'll look for it in Copac, which is a union (combined) catalogue of British university and national library collections. There are three entries here:-
  6. Just a bit of context: George Thomson, the compiler of these books is famous for collaborating with Robert Burns, who provided the texts for the songs. Thomson's modus operandi was to send the tunes to famous European composers, with the briefest of descriptions about the texts, such as "this is a martial song". Not much to go on, really! His most famous song arrangers were Beethoven and Haydn. But I digress! A couple of weeks ago, I read this on Twitter:-
  7. When I saw that my friends at RISM were keen on collaborating with people in Digital Musicology, and were interested in suggestions how to use the RISM data, it struck a chord with me (pardon the pun!), so I responded promptly. (Three cheers for Twitter, incidentally. It's great for bouncing ideas around with like-minded people.)