A Flurry of Activity

The Bass Culture team has adopted a serious, studious demeanour as the project rolls towards its October web-launch. Not that we weren’t serious and studious before, but we’re even more so now, which goes some way to explaining why there are fewer blogposts these days.

David and Karen are editing the spreadsheet (consistency is our middle name, and qualitative judgements are very carefully weighed up, if they’re allowed to remain at all!).  Luca is building the website.

It’s all the extra things that Karen’s afraid of forgetting!  There is going to be a bibliography of key sources: the following are some of them, but we’ll provide the full bibliographic details on the website itself!

  • Baptie’s Musical Scotland
  • The British Union-Catalogue of early music printed before the year 1801 : a record of the holdings of over one hundred libraries throughout the British Isles (in our database, abbreviated as BUCEM)
  • Douglas, Sheila – The Atholl Collection catalogue: 300 years of Scottish music and poetry (Perth, UK: Perth & Kinross Libraries, 1999)
  • Glen, John – The Glen collection of Scottish dance music : strathspeys, reels, and jigs, selected from the earliest printed sources, or from the composer’s works [2 vols, 1891 and 1895](In our database, in the format: Glen, Collection of Scottish Dance Music)
  • Gore, Charles – Scottish Music Index http://www.scottishmusicindex.org/
  • Johnson, David – Music and Society
  • Kidson, Frank – British music publishers, printers and engravers : London, provincial, Scottish and Irish. From Queen Elizabeth’s reign to George the Fourth’s, with select bibliographical lists of musical works printed and published within that period (1900) (In our database, in the format, Kidson, British Music Publishers
  • National Library of Scotland, Digital Gallery
  • Oxford Music
  •  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • RISM (Repertoire Internationale des Sources Musicales)
  • Scottish Book Trade Index (In our database, SBTI)
  • Smith and Humphries’ Music Publishing in the British Isles

All the information is there in Karen’s Mendeley and Diigo accounts, but it still needs to be collated and double, treble-checked!

Hold onto your hats, folks – it’s going to be quite a ride!

Rolling Stones or Snowballs? The Countdown …

They say that a rolling stone gathers no moss. On the other hand, a snowman starts with a snowball, and a pearl with a grain of sand.

Last week’s Bass Culture plenary faced the reality of our October 2015 deadline hurtling towards us with increasing speed (not so much a rolling stone as an avalanche), as we contemplated what needed to be done before that date.

We looked with interest at another project involving MEI – the Lost Voices Project (“Companion resource to Les livres de Chansons Nouvelles de Nicolas Du Chemin (1549–1568), hosted by the Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance in Tours, France”), in which Zoltan has also had a hand.  It’s great to see MEI in use, and to begin to imagine what our own functionality might look like.


So what do we need to achieve?  There’s the website (Hms.scot).  Karen has input the relevant data into our BIG, detailed spreadsheet for the books that have been digitized, and now needs to edit the main spreadsheet – much longer but not quite as wide!

We’re still hoping to get some more incipits transcribed, and David and Barnaby are planning recordings, with David looking forward to the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Cape Breton this October.  And of course, there’s also the necessary planning to keep the whole website running after our project officially ends.

Does that sound busy?  Too true!  So with that, and preferring the snowball metaphor to that of a rolling stone, it’s time to get back to that thumping bass …

Just a wee comment – there’s just a holding page at http://www.hms.scot/ at the present time of writing. But do bookmark it, because that’s where it will all be happening when we launch the website!



New Year’s Resolutions in Bass Culture Territory

For the first couple of years of the project, we worked on a huge spreadsheet of all our fiddle tune-books.  It seemed a bit unmanageable at times, but compared to the new MEI-enabled spreadsheet, it was merely a tiny little table!  The photo in our last blogpost shows just TWO sample entries of the hundreds that will end up being entered there.  Comparing the preliminary and MEI spreadsheets is like comparing a house with a high-rise block of flats.

So here we are in the new year: 2015, and with the end of the project looming on the horizon.  Entering source details inevitably raises questions about things that really looked very straightforward at the time.  DID that bound volume contain all three publications by the author?  Oh, here’s a second edition. (That makes it a new source, but categorically NOT a new work …)  Such basic details have to be sorted out now.  And then there are the details we’ll have to remember before the website goes live.  And the tiny questions that require answers, but can’t be answered until the donkey-work of data entry is further along the line, or we’ll never get the donkey-work done!

  1. Luca and Karen agreed that we need a “legend” – a list of words where there are different spellings, so that the computer search can take into account such “synonyms” when encountered.  If a user searches for MacGlashan, for example, then the system has to retrieve McGlashan – our preferred spelling.  Similarly, if a tune title includes archaic spellings, or just plain misspellings of words, then the user may enter a modern or correct spelling but we need to be sure they’ll also retrieve the item with its original published spelling.
  2. Consistency in the finer details.  Pagination is entered thus:- 31 p (not 31p, 31 pp, or 31 pp.)  Check COPAC, and you’ll catch different libraries adopting different styles.  We have to adopt one standard and stick to it – the user may not even notice, but it does look better!
  3. We need to define terminology.  For example, we know what Murkys are (broken octaves in quavers), but we can’t predict what terminology will be familiar to someone searching the database at a later date.
  4. We need to flag the “questions for later”, so that we can address them if there’s time.
  5. We’ve listed our published outputs and conference papers on a separate research database, but we’ll need to include a bibliography on the Bass Culture website, too.
  6. Only a day later, and we’ve thought of another important requirement for our website – a tab for listing key online info that we’ve found useful.  (Karen has been saving things to her Diigo bookmarking account.)  First up – the Scottish Book Trade Index at the National Library of Scotland.  Invaluable!

Enough for now!  It’s not so much “fiddling while Rome burns”, as “Blogging while Fiddle sources are to be entered up!”