New Version of RISM’s Online Catalog with Incipit Search Released

Klaus Keil

Monday, April 11, 2011

A new version of the OPAC for the International Inventory of Musical Sources (RISM) was released at the end of March 2011. New features in this version are a music incipit search, links to digital objects, and various minor improvements, including display of holding libraries in cases of ownership transfer and corrected errors in incipit displays.

For the music incipit search, two search fields are available. This makes it possible to find works that are musically similar. The search is based on the progression of the beginning notes of a composition. One only needs to enter the note names (C, D, E, F, G, A, B). Searching using the field “Music incipit” delivers results based on the exact note progression; the field “Music incipit (with transposition)” also includes the series of notes transposed. The database contains over one million incipits.

For the first time, links to digital objects have also been added to the full record display. This way, with the click of a mouse you can view a digitized version of a music source directly through the record. RISM is cooperating with certain libraries (D-Dl, D-DS, D-Mbs, D-B, US-NYj, DK-Kk [1]) that are using some of the RISM data as metadata to enable discovery of their own digital objects. Over 3,500 links to digital objects are already available in the RISM database.

RISM, a project of the Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature, and its participating partners, the Bavarian State Library in Munich and the Berlin State Library, are pleased to be able to offer this new version of the online catalog to a musically appreciative public.

For free access to this catalog of over 730,000 entries, either go to the catalog’s main page ( or RISM’s website ( The catalog is also searchable via the Virtual Library of Musicology (

[1] Germany: Dresden, Sächsische Landes-, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek; Darmstadt, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek; Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz; USA: New York, The Juilliard School, Lila Acheson Wallace Library; Denmark: Det Kongelige Bibliotek

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