At first glance, the daily routine of a library assistant can admittedly be a little dry: new score arrives, stamp the score, add a barcode, print the bookplate, bag it, add to shelf. Repeat. Thankfully, the interests of our students and staff make for some fascinating reads along the way – it is not uncommon to find one of us flipping through the pages of a brand new score or book, momentarily grinding our makeshift assembly line to a halt while we pause to appreciate the intricacies of a particularly inventive graphic score (lines and dots printed on acetate? Mind = blown) or a beautiful facsimile of an ancient masterpiece (why are there only 3 lines? They used colours back then?).
This morning a particularly rich batch of scores arrived, prompting me to write this blog post – what better way of understanding the activities of our community than by offering a cross-section of the music that we play, study and enjoy? So here goes, a sampling of our most recent arrivals:
1. Alfred Schnittke, Hommage à Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokoviev and Dmitri Shostakovich, for piano six-hands
The German / Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke (1934 – 1998) is perhaps best known for his deeply personal form of ‘polystylism’ (perhaps more apt is the label of ‘post-everythingist’, as described in one media outlet), in which the composer freely borrows idioms from music of different times and places in Western culture. The results are often disorientating and wonderfully chaotic; Hommage certainly embodies these characteristics – as one might expect from most pieces involving one piano, six intertwined arms and thirty contorted fingers – although a certain unity is achieved as Schnittke skilfully highlights the stylistic intersections between these three giants of the Russian canon.
2. Björk, 34 Scores for Piano, Organ, Harpsichord and Celeste
At the more docile end of the musical spectrum, these solo keyboard arrangements of Björk’s songs emphasise the wonderful intimacy of her lyrics, in stark contrast to the often expansive and high-tech textures that populate the Icelandic superstar’s albums. Stylishly bound and visually seducing (the custom engraving, with its red and blue barlines and naively curled quavers, is quite touching), the collection offers the chance for anyone with some degree of keyboard skills to bash out these tunes in the privacy of their homes while singing along (vocal melodies and lyrics are included as well). To me, the main strength of the collection lies in its invitation to become an active participant in the re-creation of Björk’s music, offering a different perspective for Björk enthusiasts more accustomed to experiencing the music purely as a listener. It’s a Victorian living room revival for the modern era.
3. Cyril Scott, Selected Piano Works
Continuing the theme of Victorian living rooms (or Edwardian in this case), the piano works of Cyril Scott (1879 – 1970) paint a charming portrait of middle-class salons in the first decades of the 20th Century. Colourful, camp and a little bit saccharine, these pieces will delight anyone with a taste for the lighter side of Impressionism, coupled with nostalgia and some seriously singsong-y melodies (the Sonata op.66 strikes a more modernist tone). If I could think of an aural equivalent to the ITV period drama, this would surely be it!
Hopefully this small snapshot accurately reveals the wide range of interests of both students and staff at the College. It goes without saying that the Library is proud to respond to these diverse interests, by building a collection that reflects the needs of the RNCM community!
Most importantly, if there is some music, book or recording that you think would be useful to have in the library, do let us know, we’re always happy to order in new resources!
It’s Glastonbury this weekend, and with extensive coverage on bbc iplayer, here are the bands that the library staff are most excited about:
Top overall choices:
Radiohead: international art-rockers return to Glastonbury 20 years after the release of seminal album ‘OK Computer’
Laura Marling: folk-tinged singer-songwriter plays Glastonbury following the release of critically-acclaimed album ‘Semper Femina’
Hacienda Classical (feat. Manchester Camerata): DJs from the legendary Hacienda nightclub re-interpret rave classics with chamber orchestra
Full list of staff choices below line-up poster:
Alan (Library Assistant): Radiohead, Metronomy, Kate Tempest, Laura Marling, Glass Animals
Beavan (Library Assistant): BadBadNotGood, Thundercat, Alt-J, Solange, DJ Shadow
Doug (Senior Library Assistant): Radiohead, Rag’n’bone man, Hacienda Classical (feat. Manchester Camerata)
Sarah (Assistant Librarian): Radiohead, Hacienda Classical (feat. Manchester Camerata), Laura Marling, Martha Wainwright, Birdy
Peter (E-Learning Co-ordinator): First Aid Kit, Chic, Angel Olsen, Goldfrapp, Toots & the Maytals, Orchestra Baobab
Monday July 10 – Sunday July 30
|Monday – Friday||10am-1pm; 2pm-4.30pm|
|Saturday & Sunday||Closed|
Monday July 31 – Sunday September 3 *
|Monday – Friday||Morning: Closed
|Saturday & Sunday||Closed|
*Monday August 28: Bank Holiday: CLOSED
Monday September 4 – Sunday September 17
|Monday – Friday||10am-1pm; 2pm-4.30pm|
|Saturday & Sunday||Closed|
Monday September 18 – Sunday September 24: INDUCTION WEEK
|Monday – Friday||9am – 5pm|
|Saturday||9am – 1pm|
Normal term time hours resume on Monday September 25
Afternoon opening during August is subject to staff availability – you are advised to phone in advance if you are making a special journey to visit the Library (0161 907 5243)
Some of you may have already taken advantage of the Library’s subscription to the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall, where you can access live streams from the legendary orchestra’s concert season, as well as a veritable treasure trove of archival recordings, films and interviews. For those of you who have yet to discover the service, here are 5 reasons why you should probably ditch Netflix right now and start streaming some lush orchestral textures:
- The Philharmonic in HD
The quality of the video is seriously stunning (provided your internet connection is decent), and the audio is top-notch as well. Although they say you can’t beat the live experience, where else can you witness a close-up of Simon Rattle’s hair in full HD?! To get an idea of the technical virtuosity involved in bringing us such a high-quality experience, check out this behind the scenes video.
- A Slick and Intuitive Interface
Apart from looking really swish, the site is easy to navigate and includes a variety of options for exploring the different features: upcoming live streams are listed by date, and you can browse through archival recordings by selecting from a list of terms including composer, soloist, genre and season. There is also a search feature on the top of the page, which is useful, although as librarians we don’t like the fact that you can’t search for different terms (i.e composer and title) within the same search. We can excuse this one fault however, as the rest of the interface works pretty well!
- Vintage Gems
Many of the orchestra’s archival recordings have been digitised, meaning that you can watch Karajan conduct Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe in 1978, or Abbado’s inaugural concert from 1989, in which he delivers a stellar Mahler 1.
- Bonus content
Remember when DVDs had all that extra content that no one ever bothered watching? Well, DCH has a large collection of bonus stuff that you will actually want to watch! This includes exclusive interviews with luminaries such as John Adams, Barbara Hannigan and Isabelle Faust, as well as a series of short portrait films featuring individual musicians from the orchestra.
- Mobile Concert Hall
They have an app! Which, in the true spirit of German innovation, is highly functional, looks great and contains all of the same great features that can be found on the website. The app is available for Apple, Android and Kindle Fire (apologies to the last remaining Blackberry user who may be reading this).
By now you’re probably asking yourself, how do I sign up? The answer to this question is quite simple: from a college computer, start by visiting the website. The site will prompt you to create an account as an RNCM student or member of staff. Once you have created the account and verified your email address, you’ll be given instant access, on and off-campus, to this fountain of orchestral extravagance. There is one tiny bit of fine print: you will have to login to the service once a month via the college network for your subscription to remain active. And there you have it, as easy as Covfefe.
Easter Vacation 2017
|Monday 3 – Friday 7 April||9.30am – 4.30pm|
|Saturday 8 April||CLOSED|
|Monday 10 –Thursday 13 April||9.30am – 4.30pm|
|Friday 14 – Saturday 15 April||CLOSED|
|Monday 17 April||CLOSED|
|Tuesday 18 – Thursday 20 April||9am – 5pm|
|Friday 21 April||9.30-5pm|
|Saturday 22 April||9am – 1pm|
It’s time for you to have your say on the Library and it’s resources.
Last year, due to feedback in the Rate your Library, we contacted tutors to get recommendations for repertoire for purchase, and we also introduced weekly enquiry sessions to help you make the most of Library resources. On top of that we added over 2600 new items to stock and an extra 650 CDs and DVDs. You pleased with that? Is it good enough?
Go to bit.ly/rateyourlibrary2017 to let us know what we’ve done well this year and what we could improve upon. If you prefer you can also fill it out “old school” by picking up a copy from the Library counter. Either way, when you’ve filled it out, you get a chocolate reward!
(The results of the Rate your Library are reported to Learning and Teaching Committee as well as directly back to students.)
The Library will be open as follows during mid-year recess, 18-26 February:
Saturday 18th Feburary: CLOSED
Monday 20th- Friday 24th February: 9.30am-4.30pm
Saturday 25th February: 9am-1pm
Sunday 26th February: CLOSED
Normal term-time hours will resume on 27th February.
Got an assignment due in January? Here are some handy tips to help you through it whilst still enjoying a bit of the festivities!
- Check the assignment details. Sounds obvious we know, but it’s really important to make sure you’re answering the question you’ve actually been set! Have a look on the elective page on Moodle for all the details (and the critical readings for the MCP assignment).
- Check Library opening times: http://bit.ly/2fZyVdV. We have reduced opening times over the holidays, so make sure you know when we’re open to get materials/use the study space.
- Make sure you know your Athens login details. http://bit.ly/2hbHwtP This is vital for accessing online resources like journal articles, Naxos Music Library and Grove Music Online. Further information on Athens login details can be found here: http://bit.ly/2hFBjHr
- Use other University Libraries via Sconul Access. For study space, or borrowing if you’re on a PG course. http://www.sconul.ac.uk/sconul-access
- Use RNCM Discovery to search for online resources. For the best marks you need a good mix of types of resources (i.e. not just books). Use RNCM Discovery to help you find articles, recordings, reviews and lots more. The search box is on the Library moodle pages.
- Reference your sources correctly. Use the Library guide to ensure you follow the College guidelines on referencing and bibliography: http://bit.ly/1MVnoUb
- Attend a Library enquiry session. We’re running twice weekly enquiry sessions for the first two weeks of January term to help you before the assignment is due, so never fear, we’re here to help!
Aaaand…Relax! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Library Team.
Library Opening Hours
Christmas Vacation 2016/17
|Monday 19 – Wednesday 21 December||9.30-13.00
|Thursday 22 December – Monday 2 January||CLOSED|
|Tuesday 3 – Friday 6 January||9.30-13.00
|Saturday 7 – Sunday 8 January||CLOSED|
|Monday 9 January||Term-time opening hours resume|
From Friday 16 December: 7 Day loans, CDs and DVDs will be issued to Tuesday 3 January
From Wednesday 21 December Short loan items will be issued to 12 noon on Tuesday 3 January
Online resources are still available while the Library is closed using the links on Moodle, or your Athens login.
All opening times are subject to staff availability and the Library reserves the right to close if necessary. You are advised to phone in advance if you are making a special journey to visit the Library (0161 907 5243).