Category: Eresources (page 2 of 4)

The Land Where the Good Songs Go

Though the weather report promises but little joy, though due dates for theses and applications loom menacingly over us like steadily advancing diplodoci, though the ice and snowdrifts cling to the pavement as clings the tritone to Vitellio Scarpia, though we are, if not actually disgruntled, far from being gruntled, yet be of good cheer, gentle library patrons, for a brief escape to the enchanted land of Bolton, Wodehouse and Kern is but a mouseclick or two away.

Sheet music, recordings, and a couple of other pleasant, nostalgic things.

Between 1915 and 1924 Jerome Kern, often in cahoots with P. G. Wodehouse (brilliant lyricist as well as brilliant novelist; life is not fair) and Guy Bolton (the wizard of plot and pun) wrote several musicals for the small, stylish Princess Theater in New York.    Their intricate, tuneful scores  and believably nonsensical books distinguished the Princess shows from Ziegfeld’s extravaganzas and Cohan’s revues.  Kern and Wodehouse created songs which advanced the plot and illuminated the characters, rather than a series of interchangeable numbers for interchangeable soubrettes and juveniles.  The world of these shows is long, long gone, but the songs are as fresh as ever.

If you are stuck in your room with the cold that’s going around,  Music Online streams an utterly beguiling album of Wodehouse lyrics (mostly set to Kern’s music) called “The Land Where the Good Songs Go.” Sylvia McNair (she of the voice like silver honey), joins forces with pianist Steven Blier and tenor/Wodehouse buff Hal Cazalet for songs like “You Can’t Make Love By Wireless” and “Non-Stop Dancing” (“Father pluckily continues, though he’s sprained eleven sinews, since we got the non-stop dancing craze.”)  Those interested in the evolution of singing styles might want to listen to the vintage recordings of many of the same songs on “The Theatre Lyrics of P. G. Wodehouse”.  Some of these tracks date back to 1905, and there’s an interview with Wodehouse about working with Kern.

For the full Bertie Wooster experience, try visiting the UCLA Archive of Popular American Music, printing out a .pdf of the original sheet music for “The Sirens’ Song” or “Sir Galahad” and playing through it on the nearest keyboard.  You never know what might summon up Jeeves, tray in hand and mammoth brain at the ready to solve all your problems.

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Explore, Cite, and Print: Page Delivery Service Updates (December 2010)

The latest release of Harvard’s Page Delivery Service (PDS) – the system through which we share our digital scores with the world – is live, and there are a few enhancements to share with you.

We spend a lot of time writing a structural outline for every score we digitize, to make it easier to find works, movements, scenes, and even single arias. While we’ll keep adding that full indexing, it’s now possible to navigate using thumbnail images of each page, as well: when you’re looking at a digitized book or score, click “Expand All,” then “Show Thumbnails” in the left-side navigation frame. This might be an interesting way to get a simple visual overview of a work’s structure, and I have to admit that for some scores, it’s just fun; take a look at the thumbnails for this copy of Debussy’s La Boîte à Joujoux: Ballet pour Enfants, and I think you’ll see what I mean.

The next addition is a “Cite this Resource” button: click this to get descriptions and persistent links for both the entire score and the single page you’re looking at. These aren’t perfectly-formatted citations, but they gather a lot of the information you’ll need in a bibliography or caption. Here’s a screenshot, using a page from La Boîte à Joujoux as an example:

Screenshot, PDS Cite This Resource Tool
Screenshot: PDS "Cite This Resource" Tool (click to enlarge)

And finally, the full print-to-PDF option is back! Requests for 10 or fewer pages are delivered in real time; if you request more than 10 pages, you’ll be sent a link to the PDF once it’s been processed (those links remain available for 7 days).

Ready to start exploring? Digital Scores and Libretti is, of course, my favorite, but check out other Digital Collections of Harvard College Library and Web-Accessible Collections at Harvard University for photographs, pamphlets, manuscripts, books, maps, and other rare materials ranging from Digital Papyri to Latin American Pamphlets.

– Kerry Masteller

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