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Digital Media Reviews
Jewish Music on the Internet
Content-rich Web sites, searchable databases, and digital online exhibits have recently given a tremendous boost to online resources in Jewish music research. Resources made available from individuals are growing, and significant Jewish music collections in a variety of institutions are being digitized and are now accessible online. There are several major areas of growth: online databases which give access to score and sound recording collections held by institutions; digitized primary sources such as scores, bibliographies, and full-text articles; and general learning tools. In addition, specialty Web sites allow for access to information about currently available materials and activities in Jewish music.
Databases and Primary Sources
Located in the University of Pennsylvania's Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Freedman Jewish Music Archive comprises over eighteen hundred recordings, primarily in Hebrew and Yiddish. An online searchable database accessing sound recordings in this archive includes Hebrew- and Yiddish-language characters. In order to read those characters, one must use a browser that can display Unicode characters, such as Mozilla, Internet Explorer 5 and higher, or Netscape 7 and higher. The database will find individual tracks on a recording. All known artists, composers, or titles in the entire collection of LPs, 78s, and compact discs can be searched. The database is searched by keyword in transliterated Hebrew or Yiddish as well as English. First lines for some twenty-eight thousand song texts are given in transliteration if in a foreign language. References to fully published song texts available at the University of Pennsylvania library are also included.
Keynote is the catalog of the newly created Doris and Bertie Black Library of the Jewish Music Institute at the University of London. The database, developed in consultation with the British Library National Sound Archive and not part of the University's [End Page 194] general library catalog, can be searched by record company or collection name, composition title, or names of ensembles, performers, and composers. The collection includes a wide variety of formats, including various types of sound recordings, video, film, books, and sheet music. There are browse lists for each major category, and an advanced search screen. An additional useful feature is the ability to search by instrumentation, using a precise limiting feature. Thus, soloists or conductors looking for Jewish music in their area of interest may be able to use this database to find works utilizing their instruments. One other extremely valuable feature of this catalog is the addition of alternative names for transliterated song titles. This feature may allow Keynote to be used in conjunction with other databases when searching for a Yiddish-language song, for example. Keynote is designed to include a "Tune Finder" that can find any musical phrase in a tune, although this feature does not yet appear active on the version for Jewish music.
Stephen Simpson, working in Rehovot, Israel, has organized a huge digital preservation project. With the diligence of those involved in a labor of love, he and his volunteers digitized over two thousand pages of public domain scores of Jewish liturgical music, most of it from the nineteenth century. Among other items, the site makes available...