Cat Pianos, Sound-Houses, and Other Imaginary Musical Instruments

Deirdre Loughridge and Thomas Pat­te­son, cura­tors of the Museum of Imag­i­nary Musi­cal Instru­ments, explore the won­der­ful his­tory of made-up musi­cal con­trap­tions, includ­ing a piano com­prised of yelp­ing cats and Fran­cis Bacon’s 17th-century vision of exper­i­men­tal sound manipulation.”

For the full story com­plete with sketches, please see The Pub­lic Domain Review.

Reviving a Harry Partch Work With Hubcaps and Wine Bottles

Some looked like Picasso’s wooden sculp­tures. A few oth­ers might have been designed by Rube Gold­berg. In fact, the con­trap­tions jum­bled back­stage at City Cen­ter this week were musi­cal instru­ments — painstak­ing re-creations of the whim­si­cal, inge­nious instru­ments invented and built by Harry Partch, a truly unusual 20th-century Amer­i­can com­poser, the­o­rist and tin­kerer whose works cre­ated a unique sound­scape based on a tonal sys­tem all his own.”

For the full story, please see the New York Times.

Steel-Pan Bands in Brooklyn Struggle to Find Rehearsal Space

Steel-pan bands, intro­duced to New York City by Caribbean immi­grants, have joy­ously chimed across cen­tral Brook­lyn for decades, per­form­ing at grad­u­a­tions and wed­dings and at annual events near Prospect Park like a musi­cal com­pe­ti­tion called Panorama and an exu­ber­ant predawn street pro­ces­sion each Labor Day called J’ouvert.”

For the full story, please see the New York Times.

Die Meistersinger” in HD and more

Met Music Direc­tor James Levine con­ducts one of his sig­na­ture works, Wagner’s epic com­edy Die Meis­tersinger von Nürn­berg —now avail­able on Met Opera on Demand. This Live in HD per­for­mance from last Decem­ber fea­tures a superb inter­na­tional cast led by Michael Volle, Johan Botha, and Annette Dasch.

This month’s other new releases include:

- La Bohème (Puc­cini): radio broad­cast recorded on 1/24/2015, con­ducted by Ric­cardo Frizza and star­ring Kris­tine Opo­lais, Marina Rebeka, Jean-François Bor­ras, Mar­iusz Kwiecien, and David Soar.
- Sum­mer Playlist 2015: an audio-only com­pi­la­tion of sul­try arias for summer.

Printed Music (A/I and B/I) now in RISM’s Online Catalog

RISM is pleased to announce a major addi­tion to its free online cat­a­log that strength­ens its util­ity as a resource for the doc­u­men­ta­tion of printed music. Two of its major pub­li­ca­tions have been added to the online cat­a­log and are freely avail­able online for any­one to search at ( and (

  • The entire con­tents of A/I, Indi­vid­ual Prints before 1800
    Released on CD-ROM in 2012 and pre­vi­ously in 14 printed volumes
  • A por­tion of B/I, Recueils imprimés, XVIe-XVIIe siè­cles (Printed col­lec­tions of the 16th-17th cen­turies), cov­er­ing the years 1500–1550


The addi­tion of these printed sources brings the total num­ber of records in the online cat­a­log to over 1,010,000. New search fields allow users to search by Pub­lisher, A/I or B/I num­ber, and Plate num­ber. Search results can be refined using the cat­e­gories Pub­lisher or a RISM Series. Icons of prints and man­u­scripts allow quick visual recognition.

We would like to express our grat­i­tude to Bären­re­iter and Henle Ver­lag for allow­ing us to incor­po­rate the data into our catalog.

This addi­tion of over 100,000 prints to the online cat­a­log is an ini­tial step towards revi­tal­iz­ing cov­er­age of printed music in RISM. There are cer­tainly many addi­tions and cor­rec­tions to be made to the A/I and B/I data and we ask for your patience as we work out a pro­ce­dure for report­ing new infor­ma­tion. Insti­tu­tions or indi­vid­u­als with addi­tions or cor­rec­tions to prints already in A/1 or B/1 are wel­come to report them to us but for larger amounts of cor­rec­tions, as well as new printed items with­out entries in A/1 or B/1, it will prob­a­bly be eas­ier to wait until the new cat­a­loging pro­gram, Mus­cat, is avail­able (expected in late 2015).

Marches Online! The Complete Marches of John Philip Sousa, Vol. 1

This multi-year record­ing project is the Marine Band’s first com­pre­hen­sive col­lec­tion of Sousa’s marches since the 1970s. The col­lec­tion is in chrono­log­i­cal order, and Vol­ume 1 con­tains his first 17 marches, cov­er­ing the years 1873 to 1882. Vol­ume 1 is avail­able for free down­load on the Marine Band web­site, which includes audio, scrolling score videos, and PDFs of the sheet music (full scores and parts) with his­tor­i­cal and edi­to­r­ial notes. Each march has been care­fully edited and cor­rected by Lt. Col. Fet­tig and Music Pro­duc­tion Chief Mas­ter Sgt. Don­ald Pat­ter­son using some of the ear­li­est known pub­li­ca­tions and incor­po­rate per­for­mance prac­tices employed by the Marine Band that are mod­eled on those of “The March King” himself.

Launch of The Spirituals Database

The Spir­i­tu­als Data­base is a search­able data­base of nearly 1600 tracks from record­ings of Spir­i­tu­als writ­ten for the solo voice. Launched in March, 2015, it is part of The Art of the Negro Spir­i­tual and car­ries on that project’s efforts to dis­cover and share infor­ma­tion about the Spiritual’s poten­tial role in devel­op­ing a singer’s repertoire.

The project’s goal is the even­tual pub­li­ca­tion of a discog­ra­phy of Spir­i­tual art songs.

The primary–but far from exclusive–audience is the voice stu­dent and coach/teacher who is look­ing for these recorded resources. All too often, record­ings may be the first expo­sure a vocal­ist or vocal instruc­tor has to the Spir­i­tual. That per­son, likely unfa­mil­iar with the genre and with the singers who have recorded these art songs, can use The Spir­i­tu­als Data­base to find these recorded resources for the study of how Spir­i­tu­als can be per­formed in a con­cert setting.

Even the more expe­ri­enced per­former of this reper­toire will have rea­son to seek out infor­ma­tion about the wide range of recordings–including a num­ber of rare or out-of-print long-playing (33 1/3 rpm) and 78 rpm albums, audio cas­settes and 45 rpm discs–represented here.

More infor­ma­tion about The Spir­i­tu­als Data­base is avail­able at

Center for Popular Music Launches American Music Manuscripts Website

The Cen­ter for Pop­u­lar Music at Mid­dle Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­sity announces the launch of its Amer­i­can Ver­nac­u­lar Music Man­u­scripts (AVMM) web­site. Built as part of a three-year project funded by the National Endow­ment for the Human­i­ties and under­taken in part­ner­ship with the Amer­i­can Anti­quar­ian Soci­ety, the AVMM site makes avail­able for the first time hun­dreds of Amer­i­can music man­u­scripts from the 1730s to 1910.

The com­ple­men­tary col­lec­tions of the Cen­ter for Pop­u­lar Music and the Amer­i­can Anti­quar­ian Soci­ety are among the largest and most sig­nif­i­cant hold­ings of such mate­r­ial in the nation. Approx­i­mately 350 unique, hand­writ­ten man­u­scripts were included in the project, total­ing more than 17,000 pages of music.

The man­u­scripts were all scanned in high res­o­lu­tion to archival stan­dards for preser­va­tion, with the images stored at the Inter­net Archive. The AVMM web­site serves as a front page and search engine for the images, where users can search by year, song title, sub­ject, ori­gin, cre­ator, and keyword.

For more infor­ma­tion, please visit the AVMM web­site: