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Summary of Activities, 2016-17

Overview: RILM’s mission has always been to document and disseminate music research worldwide, with a commitment to the comprehensive and accurate representation of music scholarship in all countries and languages, and across all disciplinary and cultural boundaries. For the first 50 years of RILM’s existence, the fulfillment of this mission focused entirely on RILM Abstracts of Music Literature. Now RILM’s focus has expanded to encompass full-text projects as well. Last summer we were able to announce the launch of two new full-text resources:

  • RILM Music Encyclopedias (“RME”), launched in December 2015
  • RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text (“RAFT”), launched in July 2016

This year, we are happy to add one more, produced in partnership with Bärenreiter and Metzler:

  • MGG Online, launched in November 2016

In the meantime, RILM Abstracts of Music Literature remains RILM’s flagship publication, one to which most of our efforts continue to be devoted, and which underlies all the other resources RILM produces.

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature

Database growth: As of 14 June 2017, there were 901,489 published main records in the database and 117,145 published review records. Based on tallies from the end of the last fiscal year, 76,611 new main records and 5208 review records were added to the database in this fiscal year, and 41,342 records were fully edited and indexed. Both the very high number of new records and the lower number of editorially complete entries are, in large part, attributable to the full-text project. Many new records originated from full-text metadata, and the editorial staff has been heavily involved with the full-text project in addition to its usual editing and indexing work.

National committees: The committees have submitted a total of 22,767 bibliographic records (15,206 with abstracts) and 1037 reviews—approximately the same amount of records as the previous year. Countries that submitted over 1000 records since 1 July 2016 are Germany (7367), China (5648), the U.S. (2716), and Russia (1686). In the past year RILM has terminated the national committees in Australia, Cyprus, Cuba, Iceland, Ireland, and Venezuela, since they have been inactive for several years. Other committees from which we have not heard recently are Malta, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Author submissions: RILM encourages authors to add bibliographic records and abstracts for their publications directly into the database by using the forms at Through these forms, authors can create new bibliographic citations and add abstracts and reviews to existing records.

In FY 2016–17, 476 main publication records were submitted by authors (465 with an author-submitted abstract). This number has been in decline over the last four years, and RILM will make an effort to promote this feature.

Retrospective work: Since 1 July 2016 RILM has added 1231 records to the database for publications that appeared before 1967. Records for publications from before 1967 are available only in the complete RILM Abstracts of Music Literature [not the version whose title ends “(1967 to present)”] and in RAFT.

Indexing matters: This year RILM has created new headwords for xiququji, and puppetry, all of which were previously subsumed under dramatic arts. In addition, several of the existing headwords have been broken up to make them more manageable: singing has been replaced by singing—by namesinging—by placesinging—by technique or style, and singing—generalsound recordings has been replaced by sound recordings—by labelsound recordings—by namesound recordings—by place, and sound recordings—general; and therapy has been replaced by therapy—arts therapiestherapy—dance/movement therapytherapy—general, and therapy—music therapy. Editors have also put a substantial amount of work into refining the thesaurus by establishing hyponym/hypernym relationships between index terms. RILM’s indexing headwords have always been relatively broad, and there has been very limited control of terms beyond the headword level in indexing strings. The RILM indexing manual has required an order of terms known as “standard arrangement” for most headwords, with slight modifications for others; this calls for following the headword preferentially with (1) a name; (2) a place; (3) a topic. As we are indexing much larger numbers of records then we were just a few years ago, standard arrangement, used with such broad headwords, is unwieldy and does not adequately contribute to the discovery of the material. For example, the old manual required that the headword Mass be followed in the string by (1) name of composer; (2) Mass movement; (3) place or topic; or (4) Mass as liturgy. With this method of organization, cyclic Mass follows the name of composer or geographic location and records concerning it are not grouped together. With the new method of organization, terms such as cyclic Massorgan Massparody MassRequiem, and other hyponyms will directly follow the headword Mass and group all records together. This will have a significant consequence for the precision of searching using the index browse feature on the EBSCO platform. So far about 1300 hyponyms have been associated with headwords.

Usage: The number of searches of RILM Abstracts continues to increase every year. In the 2016–17 fiscal year, the database was searched, on average, over 3.4 million per week. This number reflects the increasing number of institutions that subscribe to RILM through EBSCO and, significantly, searches originating in EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS).

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text (RAFT)

The RAFT collection: RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text (RAFT), launched in July 2016, expands and enhances RILM’s flagship bibliography with full-text articles in PDF. When complete, the collection will include 240 licensed journals. Coverage extends back to the first published issue for each title. With rare exceptions, coverage includes the complete content–that is, not only articles and reviews, but also title pages, tables of contents, front and back covers, advertisements, and more. Each one is linked with and searchable via RILM’s indexed and abstracted bibliographic record.

At launch the RAFT collection included over 62,000 full-text PDF records; since then the content has doubled to 129,738 full text records (as of 14 June 2017). A further 66,882 records provide URL links to full-text content available on the open web. Therefore, taken together, about 20% of all the records in RAFT are available with full text. During the 2016-17 fiscal year, RILM added full text for 61,405 records to the database.

Every month the content will grow until all journals and back issues have been added, at which point the collection is expected to comprise over 215,000 full-text PDF records; thereafter, with the exception of 17 titles under embargo, monthly updates will contain recent issues of those journals still in publication.

The journals in the collection come from 50 countries in 40 languages, including 68 from the United States, 30 from the United Kingdom, 28 from Germany, 12 from France, 10 each from Italy and Spain, and 7 from Brazil. The collection covers a wide spectrum of journal types (core and secondary journals as well as newsletters and magazines) and topics, from narrower topics such as music iconography and music archaeology through different genres of art music, popular music, and traditional music, to the broadest topics of music history and music therapy.

Information regarding each journal in the collection and its current coverage status can be found at

RILM Music Encyclopedias (RME)

RME Content: On 4 December 2015 RILM released RILM Music Encyclopedias, an annually expanding full-text compilation of encyclopedias and dictionaries. In accordance with RILM’s long-standing policy, its content spans multiple countries, cultures, and languages. At launch, the collection comprised 41 titles published from 1775 to the present, with some 185,000 entries. Every quarter, new entries are added to Komponisten der Gegenwart, and early in every calendar year, new titles are added to the collection, expanding its geo-linguistic and subject breadth and depth. In January 2017 the collection was enhanced with four new titles:Gracian Černušák, Bohumír Štědroň, and Zdeněk Nováček. Československý hudební slovník osob a institucí. Praha: Státní Hudební Vydavatelství, 1963/1965. 2 vols, 1933 p. With 9500 entries, collaboratively conceived by leading Czech and Slovak music specialists, the dictionary offers entries on Czech and Slovak personalities active in all kinds of areas of musical life; to institutions, organizations, and performing groups; to editions and publications such as music journals; as well as to individuals and organizations of amateur and folk music production.

Bianca Maria Antolini. Dizionario degli editori musicali italiani, 1750–1930. Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2000. 427 p. This is the first major dictionary (after Claudio Sartori’s pioneering Dizionario degli editori musicali italiani of 1958) that comprehensively gathers information on publishers, printers, and booksellers of music, active in Italy between 1750 and 1930, a period hitherto ignored. The nearly 400 entries provide a structured frame of music publishing, production, and consumption in Italy. Publishers are presented with biographical information and company history (including changes of name, location, and ownership and mergers), modes of dissemination, and technology. The Dizionario is also an essential source for the dating of music publishing, as it includes lists of editorial numbers and plate numbers (such as for Lucca and Ricordi).

Albert Lavignac and Lionel de La Laurencie. Encyclopédie de la musique et dictionnaire du Conservatoire. Paris: C. Delagrave, 1913–1931. 11 vols., 7570 p. Conceived by the French musicologist Albert Lavignac (1846–1916), the Encyclopédie de la musique is a monumental encyclopedic undertaking with monograph-length studies by reputable French scholars. After Lavignac’s death, Lionel de La Laurencie (1861–1931) continued the project, but with his passing in 1933 the Encyclopédie was abandoned. The work as its stands consists of two parts. The first concerns the history of music, with specific sections on periods (antiquity to Middle Ages) and on selected countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The number of entries allocated to non-European music is especially noteworthy. The second part focuses on aesthetics and theory, instruments and performance, religious music and venues.

Franz Stieger. Opernlexikon/Opera catalogue/Lexique des opéras/Dizionario operistico. Tutzing: Schneider, 1975–1983. 11 vols., 1903 p. [1043 p., 328 p., 532 p.] The Opernlexikon is one of the most frequently consulted of all opera catalogues. It also contains ballets, oratorios, and other stage works, all listed by title, composer, and librettist. Lists of serious operas, cross-indexing of titles, and identification of librettists are especially noteworthy. The concluding two volumes, titled Nachträge, contain corrections as well as additions. With over 60,000 titles of stage works, the Opernlexikon exceeds every other published opera catalogue in size. It provides the place and date of every work’s premiere (when known), along with an identification of its genre and number of acts. The Opernlexikon is especially valuable for works written and performed before 1920.

To date, RILM Music Encyclopedias contains 263,000 entries. For the complete current title list, and information about each work, see

Coming updates and additions: In addition to the quarterly updates to Komponisten der Gegenwart, new search-term equivalencies are added quarterly. New titles planned for inclusion in 2018 include the following:

Ernst Ludwig Gerber. Neues Historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkünstler. Leipzig: A. Kühnel, 1810–1814. 4 vols., xxxii, 974 columns; 823 columns; 942 columns; 844 columns.

Tobias Bröker. The 20th century violin concertante: A repertoire catalogue of the compositions for violin concertante written between 1894 and 2006. 2d rev. ed. Stuttgart: Tobias Bröker, 2015. 2770 pp.

Andrea Sessa. Il melodramma italiano: Dizionario bio-bibliografico dei compositori, I: 1861–1900 and II: 1901–1925. Firenze, Leo S. Olschki Editore, 2003. 533 pp.; x, 1012 pp.

Marcos Antonio Marcondes. Enciclopedia da musica brasileira: Erudita, folclorica, popular. Newly rev. ed. São Paulo: Marcos Antonio Marcondes, 2010. 1000 pp.

MGG Online

Launched in November 2016: In partnership with Bärenreiter and J.B. Metzler, RILM has published MGG Online, providing music researchers worldwide with the authoritative content of Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (2nd ed., Bärenreiter and J.B. Metzler, 1994–2008), now with updated and new articles. The content of MGG Online is overseen by the internationally renowned musicologist Laurenz Lütteken (Zurich), who serves as Editor in Chief; outstanding scholars from all pertinent fields of music studies, along with editors at Bärenreiter, are engaged in updating the entries and adding new articles on an ongoing basis. To date, 225 articles and major article sections have been considerably rewritten, several new articles have been contributed, and countless small revisions have been made. The content continues to be revised on a daily basis, and many more new articles are planned, including in the area of popular music. MGG Online thus maintains the excellence and high scholarly standards long associated with its print edition, offering well-researched and authoritative texts on almost every aspect of music, as well as numerous professional directories, works lists, bibliographies, tables, figures, and indexes. The following list of just a few article headings provides a sense of the breadth and depth of coverage in MGG Online:

  • Bolivien
  • Bauyn
  • Chinesisches Musiktheater
  • Dadaismus
  • Gong und Gongspiele
  • Gozzi, Carlo
  • Klangfarbe
  • Melodram
  • Monte, Philippe de
  • Musik und Bildende Kunst
  • Ravel, Maurice
  • Strauss, Richard

User platform: MGG Online merges a treasure trove of information with the latest technology, making its content accessible in traditional and new ways to users around the globe. RILM has designed and developed a modern and intuitive user platform, which is fully equipped with the most advanced search and browse capabilities. Key features include the following:

  • Continuous updates, revisions, and additions
  • Full functionality on mobile and tablet devices
  • Easy toggling between current and previous versions of each article
  • Works lists that can be sorted by the user according to various parameters at the click of a button
  • Automatic translation from German into over 100 languages via Google Translate integration
  • Individual user accounts where highlights and annotations can be created, saved, and shared
  • Cross references linking related content throughout MGG Online
  • Links to related content in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature

Like the content, the platform is continually improved and enhanced.


RILM’s blog: RILM’s blog, Bibliolore, continues to be very active with several news posts every week and increasing numbers of viewers. To our surprise and delight, our five-year-old post Rousseau and Aunt Rhody became very popular when it was linked in YouTube videos aimed at teaching children to play the tune Go tell Aunt Rhody and on websites for the video game Resident evil, which quotes the tune in its theme music. We are also intrigued by the renewed attention to our four-year-old post Thakur and Mussolini, which may stem from a wave of interest in historical precedents for totalitarianism.

Whenever possible, Bibliolore posts are updated and re-shared, sometimes as a response to current events. Recently, for example, when a new post about Neanderthal flutes was making the rounds on social media we updated the information in our six-year-old post Flute or food? and shared the new version widely; over the next few days it was re-shared on social media more than 50 times.

As we have done for some time now, this year we continued our tradition of celebrating “round birthdays” (those ending in zeros) of musical figures—both well-known ones, like Ella Fizgerald (Ella Fitzgerald and “How high the moon”), and those less remembered today but no less worthy, like Helen May Butler (Helen May Butler, American bandleader). All of our birthday posts are linked here.

Here are the top 10 posts (hyperlinked) from the past year:

Rousseau and Aunt Rhody1353
Mahler and Beyoncé1234
Music for cats1096
Debussy and gamelan1077
The Nawāb’s musical bed1006
Wampanoag music and dance745
Slonimsky and Coltrane621
Loïe Fuller’s serpentine success445
Thakur and Mussolini442
The Sultan’s bagpipes420

Bibliolore has published over 1120 posts and has been viewed over 381,000 times since its inception in October 2009. It currently has 389 subscribers, and it is rare for a day to pass with fewer than 100 views.