RISM at the IAML 2024 Congress (Stellenbosch, South Africa)

The annual congress of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres will take place from 23–28 June 2024 at the Stellenbosch University Konservatorium in South Africa.

Tuesday, June 25

RISM Coordinating Committee
Working meeting (open)
Chair: Sonia Rzepka (University of Warsaw, Poland)
Open to all: RISM contributors and national working group members as well as anyone wishing to learn more about RISM. The purpose of the meeting will be to provide information on how RISM functions, opportunities for cooperation and to collect suggestions and requests for further RISM functions, the Muscat cataloging application and the public search tools RISM Online and the RISM Catalog.

Thursday, June 27

RISM General Session: Prospects of RISM in Africa—Challenges and opportunities
Chair: Jennifer Ward (RISM Editorial Center, Frankfurt am Main)

  • Balázs Mikusi (RISM Editorial Center, Frankfurt am Main)
    News from the RISM Editorial Center: Where do we stand and where are we headed?
  • Bernhard Lutz (Bavarian State Library)
    Exploring the updated RISM Catalog: A guide to its structure, functions, and search features
  • Laurent Pugin (RISM Digital Center, Bern), Andrew Hankinson (RISM Digital Center, Bern)
    The RISM Digital Center and approaches to linking data through RISM Online
  • Wilhelm Delport (University of Cape Town)
    How tracking RISM’s footprint across (South) Africa led to the discovery of ancient bullroarers, San rock paintings and an elephant in the music room

The RISM session will offer the opportunity for everyone, whether new to RISM or long-time contributors, to hear updates about RISM’s activities plus a guest presentation focusing on musical sources in Africa. As the only worldwide endeavor dedicated to documenting written musical sources (manuscripts and historical printed music), RISM maintains a database containing over 1.5 million records from institutions in 53 countries. The session will start with news from the Editorial Center from Balázs Mikusi, which will give some context about RISM’s history, while also addressing perspectives for the upcoming years. Bernhard Lutz (Bavarian State Library, Munich) will then talk about the RISM Catalog, one of the two platforms through which one can access the RISM database. The functionalities of the catalog will be presented, including the various search options, the display of records for musical sources and authority data, as well as additional features. The presentation will also provide insight into a new beta version of the catalog, which is already available online under https://opac.rism.info/rism/. This will be followed by a presentation by Laurent Pugin and Andrew Hankinson (RISM Digital Center, Bern), who will give an overview of the various activities of the center as well as a presentation of RISM Online, the platform that provides direct access to the RISM data with a focus on FAIR principles and linked-data capabilities.

The final presentation is by our guest speaker, Wilhelm Delport (University of Cape Town).
The RISM database documents over 1.5 million records, yet its footprint in Africa remains largely indistinct, with mere mention of seven institutions in South Africa and three in Egypt, but no detailed descriptions of their collections. This leaves considerable room for expansion on the African continent, necessitating the tracking and identification of relevant collections of written musical sources. Indigenous Southern African hunter-gatherers such as the iconic San people are brilliant trackers, known for their remarkable ability to track animals through their scent and footprints. The San are also skillful musicians, with some of their music characteristics recorded in staff notation as early as 1812 by the English explorer W. J. Burchell.

This paper identifies relevant collections of South African written musical sources that are not included in the RISM database, inviting an expansion of its footprint across the continent. The need for and effects of such an expansion is, however, questioned considering the colonialist legacy associated with the influx of Western music sources and systems. As inhabitants of Southern Africa for thousands of years, the San’s musical heritage far outdates Western documentation by explorers such as Burchell, as reflected in rock paintings and the use of early instruments such as bullroarers. Can RISM expand its footprint in Africa without the perpetuation and promotion of only colonialist practices and musical sources? While some (African) scholars advocate for the documentation of indigenous musical practices through written (staff) notation for the sake of preservation, others disregard Western systems and instead promote a continuation of traditional practices through the incorporation of a postcolonial, living archive.

Friday, June 28

Muscat workshop
Two-part introductory cataloging workshop on Muscat, RISM’s cataloging program for documenting musical sources. The workshop is suitable for anyone curious about RISM’s cataloging standards or interested in starting their own RISM cataloging projects at their institutions. Muscat is a web-based, platform-independent, and open-source program that is available free of charge.

Computers will be provided. Space is limited. Please register by sending an e-mail to contact@rism.info.

  • 9:00–10:30
    RISM Workshop 1: Muscat basics
    The first part of the Muscat workshop will focus on basic Muscat editing skills for librarians and how to cataloging music manuscripts in Muscat. RISM encourages librarians to include music manuscripts from any time period up to the present and printed music until ca. 1945, as well as libretti and treatises.

  • 11:00–12:30
    RISM Workshop 2: Continuation
    This course will continue the skills learned in the morning’s RISM Workshop 1. We will practice cataloging manuscript collections and go into some of the details involving cataloging printed music. Basic knowledge of Muscat is required, either from the morning session or participation in a previous Muscat workshop.


Series A/I; series B, volume VIII, parts 1 and 2; series C
Series B (except for volume VIII, parts 1 and 2)
Series A/II CD-ROM (1995-2008)
Series A/II subscription database (2002-2006)
Series A/II subscription database (2006-present)
Congress report (2010)