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AM 211/411: Voice Studio Class

Research support for the Voice Studios at Butler University

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt Questions!

Below are the questions from the Collaborative Scavenger Hunt that was run at the beginning of the year.  There were many reasons you had to answer those questions, most of them having to do with helping you find where different physical resources live in the library and identifying the kinds of electronic resources you will find VERY helpful when you need to start doing music research for a recital, paper, or presentation.

Feel free to read through and refresh your memory on what those resources are, where you can find them, and why you might need them in the future! Happy hunting!

I am completely overwhelmed.  I have no idea where to begin finding resources.  The catalog seems a little daunting.  Is there a music guide out there that could help me?

The Singers' and Choral Directors' Bible is a comprehensive guide to thinking about vocal repertoire, vocal music research, and finding vocal resources in the library.  It is a great introduction to answer most of your first questions, you may wish to bookmark it for future use:

There are a lot of copies of Don Giovanni out there!  Mozart’s opera has been really popular through the years! But you know, I’d like to see the URTEXT edition by BARENREITER to make a copy of “Batti Batti bel Masetto” and compare it against a score that looks suspiciously incomplete that I downloaded off IMSLP. 

What even is an Urtext? Not all published editions of a piece are the same!  An Urtext is a scholarly edition that is meant to reflect the composer's final intention for a piece. What does that mean? It means that the editors will cite their sources and justify their reasons for including or excluding material from their edition.  This also means that Urtext editions, typically, will not include editorial markings if they weren't included in the first edition. You can search "Urtext" as a keyword with the author and title of a piece to find these editions.  But not every piece will have an scholarly/critical Urtext edition published.

I tried to find the text to Richard Strauss’s “Sehnsucht” but what I found on Google was the text to the Brahms setting! Can you take a picture of the Strauss text in a book of Lieder texts?

The Fischer-Diskau Book of Lieder was chosen for this question because it is a great standard in the repertoire.  Additionally, while online sources, like LiederNet, are also good for finding song texts, they are often less reliable due to volunteer submissions with less editorial oversight.  The library has many different text translation resources! Many of them are in Music Reference, near the Fischer-Diskau Book of Lieder. You can go browse the shelves in the basement of Irwin, or check out the "Translations & Song Texts" tab of the Singers' and Choral Directors' Bible for a list by language.

I’ve decided to brush up on “La Boheme,” but my Italian isn’t super strong.  I’d like to check my pronunciation.  Can you look in the Complete Puccini Libretti (from the Nico Castel Opera Series?) and find where Mimi sings “Si. Mi chiamano Mimi” in Act 1?

We have many volumes from the Nico Castel Opera Series in the Music Reference section, you can find them by browsing ML48-ML50. The Nico Castel series was chosen because it is a standard used by singers, music schools, opera companies, and more across Europe and North America. It can be tricky to navigate if you aren't already familiar with the libretto, so give yourself a few extra minutes and be patient the first time you use this resource.  It will be worth it in the end.

It would be really cool to read more about Italian pronunciation and figure out some of these ambiguities (is it a vowel or a slide?) Can you find a handbook of diction for singers?

In addition to subscriptions to online services, like IPA Source, the Library has many resources to help you with specialized diction needs.  If you look up the call number range MT883 in both Music Reference (basement) and in the general stacks (2nd floor), you'll find many books with exercises, IPA guidance, assistance by time period, language, and more!

I want to see if there are any newly published voice books I should know about.  Since you’re in the library, the newest issues are in print (not online!) can you show me where the “Bookshelf” section is in a recent issue of The Journal of Singing?

Not everything is online, even with journals!  We have a selection of recent journal issues in the basement (on the left when you go down the stairs, see map below) organized alphabetically by title.  These journals can be really helpful for keeping up with latest trends and reviews, not just about books but also concerts, recordings, competitions, and more.

basement map of irwin library

I want to listen to the ORIGINAL recording of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. It was released on LP in 1963 in New York and London. Can you find where the albums live and bring back that particular LP to me? ALSO, how can I listen to it? Can you take a picture of the turntable station?

You might wonder why a library would ever bother to maintain a collection of legacy sound recordings like LPs and CDs. There are many reasons, and as a singer one of the most useful is that listening to music as it was originally released can be a very useful tool in preparing recitals and concerts.  One important part of music research is reception history -- the study of a work's performances and recordings to learn how audiences have "received" the music from it's premiere to the current day. Understanding a piece's performance history and listening to the original recordings will help to inform your own understanding and performance.

The library will always have technology on hand for you to access recordings onsite, if you do not have your own turntable or CD player. The turntable is in the basement directly in front of the LPs (see map below), and there are external USB disc drives at the circulation desk for playing CDs and DVDs on your computer. I suggest VLC media player as a open source, free media player app if you do not already have one installed.  It handles most formats, including international formats without any hassle.


I love the War Requiem by Benjamin Britten, but I can’t spend that much time in the basement listening to the original LP recording. Do we have a copy of this piece on CD? If so, can I have the call number?

Sometimes you need to find a recording that you can take home and listen to.  Sometimes you want to compare recordings -- what did the audience of 1993 listen to when they would listen to the War Requiem? How does that aural experience compare to what the audience of 1963 heard on LP? Listening to the same recording on different formats is an important part of reception history, particularly for recordings considered important enough to have been rereleased in updated formats and editions.

I know we have CDs and LPs, but I would really rather listen to streaming music. Can you find me a copy of the War Requiem by Benjamin Britten on NAXOS music online? Is there only one version available? Is the original, 1963, Decca recording available on Naxos?

Naxos Music Library (NML) is available both as an app that you can download (through Google Play and the Apple App Store) and also a web browser database. When you set up your own personal student account, you can create playlists and save all kinds of recordings for all your different projects, papers, podcasts, or even just for personal listening.  Naxos offers, by default, a higher quality audio file than commercial streaming platforms, like Spotify, YouTube, or Apple Music, and unlike Tidal Music, it is free to you as a Butler student.

From here you can compare how the audience of 2023 listens to the Decca recording vs. how it was received by the audience of 1993 (CD) or the audience of 1963 (LP).  Three different formats of the same 1963 Decca recording heard in three very different ways.

screenshot of Naxos Music Library (NML) app showing the Britten War Requiem 1963 Decca recording

All this stuff about Puccini and Mozart is pretty cool, but I’ve already sung it.  Now I’m wondering what else is out there.  I know that the library is only the start, I hear pretty good stuff about the African Diaspora Music Project.  Can you find their website?

The library has a lot of curated resources both physical and electronic AND we also help spotlight quality, free, scholarly resources on the web that you can access even after you graduate. The African Diaspora Music Project is one of those sources.  In their own words:

The African Diaspora Music Project was founded as a research tool to help singers find art songs for performance and The George Shirley Vocal Competition.  It was released in its vocal format with nearly 4,000 titles in 2019.  In 2021, we released a new version that added more than 1,000 orchestral scores in a format usable by conductors and players.  Our latest iteration that includes recordings, perusal scores, instrumental and chamber music, and curated lists by trusted orchestral conductors was released in 2022.   We have expanded our team to some of the top professionals in each area of expertise.  We hear comments from those of you in the field and we continue to grow and become even better as we hear ways that we can assist you.  Thank you for using the African Diaspora Music Project and let us hear from you!

I want to write a paper on Marian Anderson, one of the greatest American contraltos of the 20th century.  Can you find a bibliography for her online so I can find a quick list of academic resources to look at?

One of the easiest places to start your research is Oxford Music Online, a comprehensive music reference database.  It is a like a better written, more helpful Wikipedia.  Unlike Wikipedia, all of the articles in Oxford Music Online are signed (meaning, author(s) are willing to put their names to the research) and verified, edited, and peer-reviewed by top academic scholars in their field.  Articles also have bibliographies of books, articles, and more (scores, sound recordings, etc.) to help you get a start on deeper research on very specialized topics in music. 

This semester has me thinking about how music can affect emotions and vice versa.  I’d really like to read more about this. Can you take a picture of where you found the Oxford Handbook of music and emotion: theory, research, applications? Bring it back to me and show me the section on music making and emotion.

Sometimes the easiest overview on a topic isn't found online, it's found in a print book. The library has dozens of different "Oxford Handbooks" each of which offers an authoritative and state-of-the-art survey of current thinking and research on its topic. Specially commissioned essays from leading international figures in the discipline give critical examination of the progress and direction of debates, providing scholars with compelling new perspectives.

I want to find sing a spiritual on my next recital but all I’m finding are choral arrangements.  Can you find me two different print anthologies of Spirituals for medium high voice on shelf and bring them back to me?

There are thousands of scores in the basement of Irwin library and it can be a challenge to find the right thing!  What is an anthology? It's a published collection of songs issued in one volume (or recording).  You have to look carefully to make sure that the collection is the right voice type and has the right pieces, but anthologies can be great ways to get performance copies of songs to learn from.  They are also sometimes the only or easiest way to get a copy of a more obscure setting for a piece.  If you need help finding a particular song, ask your librarian for help!


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Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
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