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Summary of Activities, 2018-19

Overview: RILM’s year ending 30 June 2019 was packed with activity, as ever. Hallmarks include expansion of the geographic representation of music scholarship in RILM Abstracts, particularly of South Asian literature; a significant increase in the full-text content in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text; the addition of five new titles to RILM Music Encyclopedias; the completion of the Index to Printed Music’s data migration into RILM’s systems and preparations for relaunch on EBSCOHost; further development of the RILM thesaurus project; and the addition of new content and enhanced functionality for MGG Online. We continue to need additional editorial staff to help keep pace with the world’s writings on music. RILM’s participation in conferences increased this year with the aim of keeping RILM closely linked with the scholarly community and its networks, and to keep that community appraised of developments at RILM.

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature (with Full Text)

Database Growth: On 24 June 2019, there were 1,098,214 published main accession records in the RILM Abstracts database, including 140,010 published reviews and 151,549 “shell records” (records for items such as front matter and journal covers) which don’t require editorial treatment. Overall, the database grew by more than 90,000 records in 2018-19. Of these, 7457 records were added for publications that appeared before 1967, in keeping with RILM’s efforts to work both forward and backward chronologically.

FYcitations1st readsreviews

Total number of records by year

National Committees and Coverage: The committees have submitted a total of 30,482 (last year, this number was 24,302) bibliographic records, 16,455 abstracts (last year: 15,321), and 932 reviews (last year: 983). The increase of more than 5000 records compared with last year is due mainly to submissions by the German committee, which contributed 13,715 records since 1 July 2017. Other countries that have submitted more than 1000 records are China (5115), Russia (3528), and the USA (3195). New committees and contributors have been established in India, Israel, Romania, and Sri Lanka.

Popular Music Coverage Expansion: In the past year, RILM Abstracts’ popular music coverage has continued to expand. Over 1400 citations have been added for materials published in 2018 and nearly 500 for items published in 2019 as of early July. In addition to this depth of coverage, increasing the breadth of coverage has also been a continuing priority. Alongside coverage of academic journals and scholarly monographs, RILM has continued to curate the best writings on popular music by journalists and critics published in the popular press and from select online sources. Also, thanks to the acquisition of hundreds of music journals from the Berklee College of Music, we are gradually upgrading our coverage of historic popular music scholarship going back decades. In the past year, missing information has been added and new abstracts written for periodicals ranging from Popular Music and Society (a seminal journal in popular music studies) to Wax Poetics (a magazine aimed at record collectors known for its deeply researched historical pieces and interviews with cutting-edge artists). Furthermore, RILM is working to further standardize its popular music indexing. The “popular music—general” headword has been thoroughly reorganized; all entries now fall under a set number of designated categories, or subheadings, resulting in increased consistency and enhanced searchability. In the process, we have written many new and updated abstracts—especially for materials published decades ago—improving the depth and descriptiveness of popular music coverage. Along similar lines, “music industry” has been established as its own indexing headword (previously music industry-related items were indexed under the “economics” headword), and new index strings and abstracts have been written for many related article and book records. Finally, in a project related not only to popular music research but also to social science research more generally, we have changed the RILM classification “sociology” to “social sciences” and divided the category into nine sub-classifications: sociology and cultural studies; anthropology and ethnology; politics and political science; economics; sound studies; cultural geography; gender and sexuality studies; race and ethnicity studies; and lastly, media studies and popular culture studies. As with the reorganization of the “popular music–general” index heading, the increased granularity of the classification schema brings greater precision and level of detail to RILM records, making user searches more productive and more reflective of contemporary research trends. Given the degree of overlap between popular music studies and the social sciences, this should benefit popular music scholars in particular.

Indexing: RILM has created the following new headwords this year: ecologyvideo recordingactivism and advocacy (not yet implemented), and music industry (as mentioned above; previously subsumed under economics).

Full-Text Coverage: In October 2018, RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text included article PDFs from all 240 licensed titles. At launch in July 2016, the RAFT collection included just over 62,000 full-text PDF records; since then the content has grown to almost 300,000 full-text records available as of late June 2019 on EBSCOHost, with many more—including new titles—on their way.

Usage: The number of searches on EBSCOHost in the 2018-19 fiscal year across all RILM databases available there (RILM AbstractsRILM Abstracts with Full Text, and RILM Music Encyclopedias) totaled 198,687,054 searches. This translates into 16.5 million times per month, or almost 4 million per week.

RILM Music Encyclopedias (RME)

RME Content: In January 2019 five new titles were added to RILM Music Encyclopedias, all focused on instruments. This brings the total to 54 titles (published originally in print from 1775 to the present) and 308,095 entries. The additions were:

Domingo Prat. Diccionario biográfico – bibliográfico – histórico – crítico de guitarras (instrumentos afines), guitarristas (profesores – compositores – concertistas – lahudistas – amateurs), guitarreros (luthiers) – Danzas y cantos – terminología. Buenos Aires: Romero y Fernández, 1934. 469 p. The Diccionario de guitarristas covers a wealth of information on the guitar and related subjects—the recognized masters of the past and present, Prat’s colleagues in Buenos Aires and abroad, obscure amateurs, celebrities, students in whom he saw promise, mythological figures, and even fictional personalities from general literature—from the earliest times through the Renaissance, Baroque, and the Classic and Romantic eras through to the early 20th century.

Sibyl Marcuse. Musical instruments: A comprehensive dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1964. xiv, 608 p. Marcuse offers thousands of entries on instruments from prehistoric times to the electronic instruments of today, and from all over the world. Entries include definitions and descriptions of instruments used in the Orient, Africa, the Americas, Polynesia, and beyond, as well as a broad treatment of instruments of the Western world. All entries are cross-referenced, etymologies are offered, and foreign-language equivalents of English terms are entered alphabetically.

Curt Sachs. Real-Lexikon der Musikinstrumente, zugleich ein Polyglossar für das gesamte Instrumentengebiet. New York: Dover Publications, 1964. xxiii, 452 p. Sachs’s Real-Lexikon covers instruments from all peoples and nations from the Greek auloi to Chinese temple instruments to Peruvian silvadores; it emphasizes philological aspects of the names of instruments, rendering them in Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, and Sanskrit. Over the course of many decades, Sachs annotated his personal copy with corrections and additions. Based on this work, his wife Irene Sachs issued a second edition five years after his passing. It contains 600 emendations incorporated into the body of the book and 500 new entries dedicated to folk and non-European instruments that are grouped together alphabetically in a supplement at the end, along with the requisite supplementary bibliography.

Hortense Panum. The stringed instruments of the Middle Ages: Their evolution and development—A detailed and comprehensive history, with illustrations, of the evolution of the mediaeval stringed musical instruments from their first appearance in the records of the earliest civilisations, through their gradual development in the Greek, Roman and Christian eras down to more recent times. Translated and edited by Jeffrey Pulver. London: William Reeves, [1939 or 1940]. ix, 511 p. The Danish musicologist Hortense Panum (1856–1933) published Middelalderens strengeinstrumenter og deres forløbere i oldtiden in three volumes over a period of 16 years (1915, 1928, 1931). The long publication process allowed Panum to consider newly published literature on the subject, which gave her an opportunity to enter into dialogue with colleagues who held different opinions, among them Curt Sachs and Francis Galpin. Jeffrey Pulver (1884–1984), author of the valuable Biographical dictionary of Old English music (1927), recognizing Middelalderens strengeinstrumenter as a standard reference work, created the one-volume English translation.

Sibyl Marcuse. A survey of musical instruments. New York: Harper & Row, 1975. xiii, 842 p. Marcuse’s compendium focuses on musical instruments of the Western world and considers to some extent their non-Western counterparts. Structured on the organological classification devised by Erich von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs, it is divided into four parts: Idiophones such as the triangle, xylophone, bells, scrapers, rattles, and the Jew’s harp; membranophones, covering a wide range of drums and drum-like instruments; chordophones of a broad variety from ground zithers to player pianos, harps to double basses; and aerophones such as flutes and reed pipes, and the organ. Marcuse omits the fifth section in the Hornbostel-Sachs system—electrophones.

For the complete title list included in RILM Music Encyclopedias with 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. The following new titles are planned for inclusion in 2020, all themed around rock music:

Bernward Halbscheffel. Sachlexikon Rockmusik: Instrumente, Technik, Industrie. Leipzig: Halbscheffel Verlag, 2013. 2 vols., x, 432 and 861p.

Bernward Halbscheffel. Lexikon Progressive Rock: Musiker, Bands, Instrumente, Begriffe. Leipzig: Halbscheffel Verlag, 2013. Revised edition. iii, 560p.

Ian McFarlane. The encyclopedia of Australian rock and pop. Gisborne, VIC: Third Stone Press, 2017. 2nd. ed. 544p.

MGG Online

Content (provided by Bärenreiter and Metzler) and Platform (provided by RILM): The third annual update of MGG Online’s content was completed in October 2018, including approximately 100 articles that were either substantially updated, newly written, or added as entirely new entries. The fourth annual update started immediately thereafter, and already 48 new and updated entries have been published. Many of these reflect the ongoing expansion of MGG’s ethnomusicology and popular music and culture coverage.

Regarding the platform, in addition to a number of back-end improvements, the platform’s front end was enhanced with better speed, the “Related content” article viewer sidebar, and a redesigned front page that now displays multiple news articles.

Usage: Between 1 June 2018 and 1 June 2019, over 500,000 MGG Online articles were viewed. The top 25 most-read articles are the following:

Bach: 2819
Mozart: 2374
Beethoven, Ludwig van: 2341
Notation: 1596
Haydn: 1383
Schubert (Wien): 1339
Schumann: 1276
Mendelssohn: 1220
Brahms, Johannes: 1211
Lied: 1036
Händel, Georg Friedrich: 1006
Liszt, Franz: 995
Wagner (Komponisten und Regisseure): 925
Stravinskij: 894
Musikwissenschaft: 870
Debussy, Claude: 847
Musikpädagogik: 832
Konzert: 813
Neue Musik: 780
Symphonie: 778
Deutschland: 746
Schönberg, Arnold: 727
Monteverdi: 722
Mahler, Gustav: 686
Strauss, Richard: 679

Index to Printed Music (IPM)

In June 2019, after more than a year of work to migrate IPM’s data to RILM’s systems, efforts to relaunch an improved database on EBSCOHost began. The new IPM is expected to launch by fall 2019. The most significant of IPM’s many new features will be the inclusion of detailed records for each volume indexed in the database, including a table of contents for the volume (with hyperlinks to each individual piece of music contained in the volume), links to series, and complete publication information. This will enable users to search for either individual pieces of music or complete volumes of music, or both, and will allow for easy toggling back and forth between records for individual pieces, complete volumes, and series. The relaunched IPM will also feature hyperlinks to open-access editions for individual pieces, where they exist, for easy access to full scores. Users will find it easier to refine or limit their searches by a number of filters, such as place or date of publication, document type, genre, and language of text. Data cleanup, improvements, and additions will be ongoing.

RILM Thesaurus Project

By August 2018, a faceted hierarchical structure was established using a combination of top-down and bottom-up methods. The initial structure has since been refined and adjusted. By June 2019, the structure includes 8 facets, 38 top categories, and approximately 10,000 topical index terms. The hierarchies of some facets extend to 5 levels. The thesaurus team worked on adding a semantic layer to the hierarchical structure of the thesaurus by defining filters for each facet. Filters are common features, characteristics, or aspects shared by concepts such as geographical locations, ethnic groups, nationalities, languages, religions, gender, and cultural traditions. The function of filters is primarily for end users to group and sort terms in certain categories based on the terms’ specific relationships with given filters. In addition to building filters for thesaurus terms, the thesaurus team also parsed various semantic relationships between specific entities and concepts suggested by certain phrases used in RILM index strings. Next the team will work on adding metadata to specific entities indexed in RILM that refer to existing metadata schema and standards.

Biographical authority cards: RILM currently identifies 203,226 individual preferred personal names in the thesaurus with 67,694 name variants. Basic biographic information is attached to these personal names, including birth and death dates and locations, roles, and nationalities. Location details come via the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names identification numbers. The table below lists the types of biographical data attached to names along with the number of names with data values assigned. More than half of the 25,392 names added this year were from data imported from IPM, many of which have been matched with existing RILM authority data.

individual people136,466155, 769178,378203,226
name variants33,04736,75652,85267,694
individuals with birth/death dates36,77544,15358,18875,566
individuals with roles38,53047,65557,44666,962
individuals with VIAF numbers38,62250,78763,59474,518
individuals with nationalities36,03544,14952,82460,770
individuals with Getty IDs attached as birth/death place16,78118,49121,38424,762
individuals with Getty IDs attached as residency1973278121332
fully edited bio cards68048141990612,377


The RILM blog: Bibliolore, continues to be very active, with new posts every week and increasing numbers of viewers. This year we continued our tradition of celebrating “round birthdays” (those ending in zeros) of musical figures—both well-known ones, like François Couperin (Couperin and aesthetic reconciliation), and those less remembered today but no less worthy, like Trude Rittmann (Trude Rittmann, unsung Broadway hero). All of our birthday posts are linked here.

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

The Sultan’s bagpipes3437
Debussy and gamelan1620
Thakur and Mussolini1568
Slonimsky and Coltrane1514
Nudie Musicals in 1970s New York City1467
The Nawāb’s musical bed1349
Ella Fitzgerald and “How high the moon”1126
Mahler and Beyoncé1079
Beethoven’s coffee1076
Jazz and early cartoons933

Bibliolore has published over 1360 posts and has been viewed over 514,600 times since its inception in October 2009. Views in 2018 averaged 196.5 per day. Bibliolore has 421 subscribers, and its Facebook page has 65 followers.