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Thread: Mandolin music library

  1. #1
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    Default Mandolin music library

    Greetings CoMando,
    I’ve collected a huge library of music for the mandolin and mandolin family. There are a number of method set from long ago to more modern. Tons of classical mandolin orchestra music as well as many other genres. Bluegrass, jazz, blues, old time, pop. Lots of terribly difficult solo pieces from all the greats and more.
    There are at least 3 long shelves or more than 10 banker boxes worth of music. I’ve only scratched the surface in my description above.
    Basically, I’m looking for a worthy home for this collection.
    Is there a repository for such a library of music?

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    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    I've been looking into this for years. What's really needed is an academic home for the American mandolin -- a university or college with the resources and interest to take on the cataloging and preservation of the early American mandolin music, and the instruments for which that music was written. I've long hoped that some academic institution will recognize the historical and musical value of this project, and perhaps begin a college-level mandolin program with both an international and historical perspective -- a place where serious musicians can study mandolin through its various, entwined "classical" and "folk" traditions. A handful of programs (Belmont, NEC, ETSU, Berklee) have addressed various parts of this vision, but what's needed is an institution with international and historical perspective, a commitment to put mandolin on a par with other instruments, and some serious library resources.

    Meanwhile, who knows what nuggets are languishing in private collections like yours? Several orchestras around the country have extensive archives, as do several of our senior American classical mandolinists. I have about 30 boxes passed down from various collectors, conductors, and other musicians. So far there's no central, academic or professional library, AFAIK, taking on the job of cataloging this music. Part of the challenge is that huge quantities of low-quality sheet music were churned out to meet the demand for Golden Era mandolin, so we're left sorting a haystack's worth of fluff to find a few needles' worth of thoughtfully-composed music. And how to really identify which is which, aside from cataloging all of it? Sometimes, it's all dismissed as nostalgia, of little musical value today. Of course, we really can't measure that without sorting through, and giving audiences a chance to listen and decide!

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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    Might I suggest this repository at the University of Colorado Boulder?
    https://www.colorado.edu/music/acade...esearch-center

    Full disclosure: I work at CU Boulder, but have no connection with the Music Department or Libraries.
    Last edited by wormpicker; Jun-19-2019 at 12:48pm. Reason: Typo fix

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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    Do you think they would have an interest?

    - - - Updated - - -

    You’ve so much better what I’ve hoped for.

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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    In the distant past I talked about this with Norman (swell guy and greatly missed) with the Classical Mandolin Society of America. I actually purchased a lot of my collection from him. CMSA has a lot of music tucked away somewhere, but it has never been cataloged so it just languishing.

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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    I don’t know, but I sent them a link to this thread.

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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    All Frets (formerly the Fretted Instrument Guild of America) has a large and catalogued sheet music library open to all members. They may be interested, but they're not an academic center.

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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    I am curious about the FIGA catalog. I have not seen anything they've done in the last 30 years. I saw their Walter Kay Bauer catalog back then. Also, FIGA was banjo-centric at the time. I welcome an update.

    I was gifted the Sioux City Mandolin Orchestra Music Library in 1986. As a member of the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra I already had full access to our music collection that started gathering arrangements and method books in 1900. Other small collections have also come my way over the years. The situation you've discribed is not unfamiliar.

    I don't want to take up too much space with back story so, in short - If you donate to a university library without a $100,000 directed endowment, think the lost ark of the covenant. Your collection would likely be received graciously, filed away in a storage area and ignored forever. Organizations like the Classical Mandolin Soc. of Amer. or the Fretted Instrument Guild of Amer. are less likely to be able to do much with the donation. Boy, that sounds pretty pessimistitic.

    Your ideal basic steps might be
    1. Catalog the contents of the collection
    2. Scan the contents of the collection
    3. Develop an online mandolin-music website with a multi-variable search process and self-sustaining download accessibility

    I've accomplished a good deal of the first two steps, mostly single-handedly, with little compensation.

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    Registered User Pete Braccio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    East Tennessee State University has a Bluegrass, Old-time, and Country Music Studies Major. They also have a Jazz major program.

    https://catalog.etsu.edu/preview_pro...eturnto=search

    I think that there was a university in Texas that also had a Bluegrass program.

    There is also Berklee College of Music. Joe Walsh is on the faculty there. https://www.berklee.edu
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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    If you're still looking for a home for this I'd love to talk with you. I think Berklee would be a great option to consider: we've got 13 or so mandolin players, and several mandolin based ensembles that could put some repertoire like this to good use.
    Mandolin Instructor
    Berklee College of Music

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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    Quote Originally Posted by J Walsh View Post
    If you're still looking for a home for this I'd love to talk with you. I think Berklee would be a great option to consider: we've got 13 or so mandolin players, and several mandolin based ensembles that could put some repertoire like this to good use.
    Thanks for the idea, Joe. I taught one of those ensembles for 15 years, through the Berklee Ensemble Department, so I have a good collection of ideas that worked for me. You may also find some of my string jazz quartet arrangements, in the String Department archives. I used those when I taught labs for the String Department. (Special thanks to Matt Glaser, who was very supportive of me in those years, and even got me paid for writing string jazz arrangements, for the String Department archives!)

    However since the College has decided not to support classical mandolin, I doubt they would be willing to take on what we're talking about here: archiving a large collection of historically significant, largely classically-oriented, early American mandolin and mandolin-ensemble music. But I could be wrong, things change quickly at Berklee! Meanwhile, I'd be happy to share some of my music for your use (or other ensemble teachers who may be reading this); maybe that could demonstrate future possibilities, embracing the early roots of the American mandolin. Eastern Tennessee State University has had an ensemble like this for a few years now, so there's a precedent.
    Last edited by August Watters; Jun-23-2019 at 9:16pm.

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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    Quote Originally Posted by August Watters View Post

    However since the College has decided not to support classical mandolin.
    Really? What a short-sighted move.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    There's a significant collection associated with the Seattle Mandolin Orchestra. Our librarian is well into her 80s now and won't be able to hang on to it forever. An instrument dealer in the Bay Area has been trying to sell off a Rudy Cipolla-associated collection for some time now.

    I'm sure that if a central dumping ground could be established, there would be no shortage of material. Getting it all digitized and organized would be a worthy goal.
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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Really? What a short-sighted move.
    I'm confident it's only a matter of time until things turn around. There's a lot of interest at Berklee in "roots music" (actually, the ensemble I taught there from 2000-2014 had an official "roots" designation). And studying the roots of the American mandolin takes you back to the early American virtuoso performer/composers (descended from the Italian classical virtuosos), and the popular "classical" mandolin orchestras. Without them we probably would never have heard of Orville Gibson, let alone Bill Monroe. Their former popularity is the reason we're having this conversation now, about finding a proper archive for all the left-over sheet music.

    More reasons for optimism: exposing non-specialists to classical literature and technique runs deep in Berklee's DNA -- generations of guitar players were required to study from Bill Leavitt's "Classical Studies for Pick-Style Guitar." Come to think of it, that's where I learned that you don't have to be a classical specialist, to get something from studying classical! Also, there's a compelling case to be made in terms of career training, and gaining access to existing community music networks--where classical is the primary language.

    Or maybe another institution will emerge, hosting a program to document, explore, and extend the roots of the American mandolin. Either way, I think the future is bright!

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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    Skyliner -

    I am a professor at ETSU, and lead a mandolin orchestra as part of my work in the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country music studies program. I established the ensemble in 2012 or so, and have built it slowly, mostly using free web resources, etc. We could certainly use te sorts of materials that you have, and we do certainly have a library that would keep them available for the public as well. I'd love to speak with you more about this over the telephone - will try and send you a message.

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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    Quote Originally Posted by Skyliner500 View Post
    Do you think they would have an interest?
    Skyliner500, I spoke with a collections librarian at the American Music Research Center at CU Boulder, and he is interested to speak with you about your collection. If you are still interested, do you have a way that he can contact you that I could relay to him? Or, you could contact him through the contact form at the center’s website: https://www.colorado.edu/amrc/ Thanks.

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    Default Re: Mandolin music library

    I have attached a PDF document to help someone start searching the Library of Congress online catalog for mandolin music. Please be aware that this is for a catalog of bibliographic records, not scans of music scores. While the Library does have these scores, they have not yet been scanned. If you live in the Washington, DC area or are visiting, you can stop by and visit the Library’s Performing Arts Reading Room to request any of these scores. If you cannot visit, I believe you can request photocopies of public domain materials, but this will involve time and $$$$.

    The attached guide is a simple and simplified instruction meant only as an entrée into the complexities of the catalog. If there is something that needs clarification or if you have questions, please feel free to ping me at mandojoe@comcast.net.

    FYI, I am posting this in the two places where there have been recent threads relating to finding mandolin music online.

    Joe Bartl
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails SEARCHING MANDOLIN SCORES AT THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.pdf  

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