RISM and Big Data

Sandra Tuppen

Monday, April 28, 2014

The following article has been adapted, with kind permission, from the British Library Music Blog:

The British Library and Royal Holloway, University of London (partner institutions for RISM United Kingdom) have announced that they have received a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for just over £79,000 towards aresearch project exploring centuries’ worth of documentation of printed and manuscript music. This collaboration between Royal Holloway and the British Libraryis bringing together for the first time the world’s biggest datasets about published sheet music, music manuscripts and classical concerts (in excess of 5 million records) for statistical analysis, manipulation and visualisation and will, it is to be hoped, provide a paradigm shift in how music history is researched.

Data from seven existing databases and catalogues is beingused as the basis of this project. These datasets (two of which are not currently available online) include: the British Library’s catalogues of printed and manuscript music; the bibliographies created by RISM that list European music printed 1500-1800 and music manuscripts in European libraries; and the RISM UK Music Manuscripts Database and the Concert Programmes Project database. These catalogues and databases are already essential finding tools for researchers of music history and musicology, plus many scholars of performance studies and cultural history. However, until now it has not been possible to analyse these rich collections of data for large-scale trends in the dissemination of music, the popularity of specific composers, or the development of musical taste.

The project is beingled by Dr Stephen Rose, Senior Lecturer in Music at Royal Holloway, with Dr Sandra Tuppen, Curator of Music Manuscripts at the British Library, as Co-Investigator, and is due to be completed by the end of March 2015.

For further information about this project, please see the British Library Music Blog.

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