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Summary of Activities, 2020-21

Overview: The year ending 30 June 2021 was the Year of the Pandemic for everyone, RILM included. Fortunately, almost all of RILM’s work is cloud-based, so shifting work from office to home was easy to accommodate from a technology and logistics perspective, though working from home took a toll on some staff members who prefer to work in the office. Nevertheless, our productivity remained high, and we made solid progress on all resources and projects. RILM Abstracts grew significantly, many more full-text journals and articles were added to RILM Abstracts with Full Text, three encyclopedias were added to RILM Music Encyclopedias, more records were added to the Index to Printed Music, and the content of MGG Online continued to expand. Metadata was improved with the addition of more persistent identifiers and authority cards. RILM’s technology stack was consolidated, both the iBis and Egret platforms were enhanced, and RILM launched a redesigned website. Three staff members left and three were hired, keeping the number of team members steady. A new edition of How to Write about Music: The RILM Manual of Style is in the works.  Finally, RILM’s subscriber base remained strong through this period, abating fears of a significant revenue hit due to the effects of the pandemic on library budgets–so far.

RILM abstracts of music literature (with full text)

Overview: All year editors worked from home due the COVID-19 pandemic. There has not been a particular downside to this arrangement. The largest impediment was the inability to use the Graduate Center library, which was closed, and inter-library loan. One particular problem was the lack of access to printed collections. Yet productivity during 2020-21 increased slightly. More than 92,000 new bibliographic citations and abstracts were added to the database this year. RILM continues to focus on geographic areas that are not adequately represented in RILM abstracts, in part by the gradual hiring of area experts and by creating stronger networks in such regions. Russell P. Skelchy (PhD in Ethnomusicology from the University of California at Riverside) joined our staff this year. His expertise centers on the Asia/Pacific region, especially Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia. He is fluent in Indonesian, knows Tagalog and Spanish, and has the ability to deal with Javanese. With his knowledge of these languages and expertise in the music cultures of the region, he will be a significant addition to RILM and its coverage. Further, this year we developed relationships with scholars in India, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan, among other places.

Full-Text Coverage: Restrictions due to COVID-19 affected a few aspects of RAFT (mainly the ability to ship and process print materials), yet the augmenting of full-text articles was robust. After the successful launch of the first annual RAFT expansion in July 2020, the RAFT team focused on acquiring and processing current issues, most of which come to RILM in digital form. Print shipments were on hold until October, and we encountered additional delays related to remote work and limited access to the CUNY Graduate Center (RILM’s home) and its mailroom. Despite these hurdles, thanks to the solid effort by the RAFT and technology teams, and the determination of editors, we were able to process, import, and edit the full-text material of 11 new journals to be released on EBSCOHost in July 2021. These journals comprise 412 issues and 7960 documents in PDF format. The new addition represents eight countries of publication and eight languages (including Arabic, Croatian, and Georgian), and five journals that will be available online exclusively through RAFT.

  • Bašćinski glasi: Južnohrvatski etnomuzikološki godišnjak. Omiš: Festival Dalmatinskih Klapa, 1991–. ISSN 1330-1128 and eISSN 2584-4059
  • BIOS: Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies. Oxford: Positif Press, 1977–. ISSN 0141-4992
  • Circuit: Musiques contemporaines. Montréal: Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1990–. ISSN 1183-1693 and eISSN 1488-9692
  • Cuadernos de investigación musical. Ciudad Real: Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha / Centro de Investigación y Documentación Musical (CIDoM), 2016–. ISSN 2530-6847
  • KunstMusik: Schriften zur Musik als Kunst. Köln: Maria de Alvear World Edition, 2003–. ISSN 1612-6173
  • Musiktherapeutische Umschau: Forschung und Praxis der Musiktherapie. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1980–. ISSN 0172-5505 and eISSN 2196-8764
  • Nordic sounds. København: Dansk Musik Informations Center (MIC), 1982–2006. ISSN 0108-2914
  • La revue [arabe] des sciences de l’education musicale / Mağalla ‘ulūm al-tarbīyya al-mūsīqīyyaẗ.  Hadath–Baabda: Éditions de l’Université Antonine, 2017–. ISSN 2523-0778 
  • Musicology and cultural science. Tblisi: Sakartvelos Teknikuri Universiteti/Georgian Technical University, 2005–. ISSN 1512-2018
  • Seiltanz: Beiträge zur Musik der Gegenwart. Berlin: Edition Klein, 2010–. ISSN 2191-0499
  • Tehnologii informatice şi de comunicaţie în domeniul muzical/Information and communication technologies in the musical field. Cluj-Napoca: Editura MediaMusica, 2010–. ISSN 2067-9408 and  eISSN 2069-654X

For a complete listing of the full-text journal titles included in RAFT, see

FYRILM AbstractsRILM Abstracts with Full Text

Indexing: RILM has added the following new headwords this year: 

psychology of music
video recording

The former headword electronic music and computer music has been split into two:

electronic music
computer music

Singing–by name has been changed to singing–by performer.

The new geographic margin term, performing arts, has been added.

Index to Printed Music (IPM)

Overview: This year IPM crossed a new threshold in terms of number of records: there are now over 582,000 IPM records published on EBSCOhost. This represents approximately 3000 new records published over the last fiscal year despite the challenges presented by COVID.

RILM Music Encyclopedias (RME)

RME content: In January 2021 RILM Music Encyclopedias was expanded with the addition three new titles, bringing the list of publications to 60. These publications originally appeared in print from 1775 to the present, and they contain 318,815 entries. The additions, centered on the theme of North America, were as follows:

  • Richard Carlin. Country music: A biographical dictionary (New York: Routledge, 2013) xvii, 497 p.
  • Gabriel Pareyón. Diccionario enciclopédico de música en México (Zapopan: Universidad Panamericana, 2006–2007) 2 vols.; 1133 p.
  • Jaimie Vernon. The Canadian pop music encyclopedia: A biographical index (Scarborough, ON: Bullseye Canada, 2020) 2 vols.; 429, 457 p.

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 and to new search-term equivalencies, the following new titles are planned for inclusion in 2022:

  • Terry Moran. Vietnamese musical instruments (Singapore: National Library Board, 2020), 384 p.
  • François Henry Joseph Blaze. Dictionnaire de musique moderne, 2nd ed. (Paris: Au Magasin de Musique de la Lyre Moderne, 1825), 2 vols., xvi, 325 p., ii, 391 p.
  • Sokol Shupo. Enciklopedia e muzikës shqiptare (Tiranë: Asmus, 2002), 381 p.

MGG Online

Product Development: Product development for MGG Online continues to be pursued within the context of generalizing RILM’s Egret platform to support additional products. Recent improvements include the addition of a translation menu and an animation to more clearly guide users to the Google Translate function. Prospective new developments include the redesign of the navigation in order to give the site a sleeker look and increased user-friendliness, with some added functionality and redesign of the notebook function.

Content: MGG Online content has been augmented in the last year with substantial new content for approximately 100 articles—major updates, newly written articles, and new entries—continuing to target topic categories such as Canada, contemporary composers, contemporary musicians, singers, the USA, and popular music, with the addition of jazz. Major new articles include Jüdische Musik, Bulgarien, and Musik und Kulturtransfer, with a host of shorter articles ranging from those on Salt Lake City, Libby Larson, and Mabel Wayne to articles on classical singers such as Elīna Garanča and Gerald Finley, and rock bands such as Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. Major updates include articles on the 16th-century Beck family of organ builders and the 19th-century Alkan family of composers and musicians as well as articles on the cities of Vancouver, Toronto, Florence, Bologna, and Sydney. A large-scale project is under way to add death dates to all persons with birth dates listed in MGG Online, where applicable. 


RILM’s blog: RILM’s blog, Bibliolore, continues to be very active, with new posts every week and increasing numbers of viewers. As we have done for some time now, we have continued our tradition of celebrating “round birthdays” (those ending in zeros) of musical figures—both well-known ones, such as Melissa Etheridge (Melissa Etheridge’s creative process), and those less famous but no less worthy, like Halim El-Dabh (Halim El-Dabh, electronic music pioneer). All of our birthday posts are linked here.

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

Philip Ewell: Erasing colorasure in American music theory, and confronting demons from our past3,345
Ma Rainey’s “Prove it on me”2,584
Mahler and Beyoncé2,402
Thakur and Mussolini2,182
Nudie Musicals in 1970s New York City1,619
Debussy and gamelan1,396
Smithsonian Collections Object: The Sony TPS-L2 “Walkman” Cassette Player, National Museum of American History1,295
Ella Fitzgerald and “How high the moon”1,163
Jazz and early cartoons882
Bobby Byrd and James Brown844

The first two in this year’s top 10 have stories behind their relatively high viewing numbers. The first, written by Dr. Philip Ewell, is one of only two posts on Bibliolore written by invited guest authors. Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie’s introduction to this post provides the background for how it came to be published on Bibliolore (click on the title, above, to read it). The second, about a song by the early blues musician Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, was originally posted in 2016, but this year it was linked in a high-profile online article about the recent film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Bibliolore has published over 1540 posts and has been viewed over 658,650 times since its inception in October 2009. Views in 2020 averaged 188 per day. It currently has 429 subscribers, and its Facebook page has 104 followers.