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Emusicquest: The Music-In-Print Series (review)

From: Notes
Volume 60, Number 2, December 2003
pp. 506-508 | 10.1353/not.2003.0167

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Notes 60.2 (2003) 506-508

Emusicquest: The Music-In-Print Series. Compiled by Donald Reese. http://www.emusicquest.com. [Music libraries and other institutions: $400 annually, for unlimited access with authentication by IP address. Music retailers/distributors: $300 annually (alternately $170 /6 months; $30/month) for access with name and password. Accessed 25 August 2003.]

The Music-in-Print Series has been a standard bibliographic tool in many music libraries since the publication of Margaret Farish's inaugural volume, String Music in Print (New York: R. R. Bowker Co., 1965). Farish's involvement continued with string supplements and Orchestral Music in Print (Philadelphia: Musicdata, 1979); Musicdata, Inc., began publishing the series in 1976. By mid-2001, it became apparent that the print edition was being discontinued: Musicdata was no longer active, but emusicquest offered an alternative. (See the credits at www.emusicquest.com/cred.htm.) At present, emusicquest offers the Music-In-Print Series in a variety of formats: a suite of searchable online databases; individual CD-ROMs; the remaining stock of hardbound volumes; and, more recently, paperback reprints of selected volumes. This review will address the online version.

Emusicquest's databases follow the pattern established by their print predecessors: String, Classical Vocal, Orchestral, Organ, Sacred Choral, Secular Choral, Classical Guitar, and Woodwind Music (due to copyright restrictions, the original volume of String Music in Print cannot be included in emusicquest). Additional database categories are available in the online offering: Piano, Recorder, Brass, Percussion, Band, Handbell, and Miscellaneous (the latter includes music for harp, and popular music). Upon close examination, only Piano is a separate entity, the others being subsets of the Miscellaneous category.

Experience using the print version will inform the user's choice of the appropriate database. Franz Schubert's Der Hirt auf dem Felsen for soprano, clarinet, and piano will be found in the Classical Vocal database: input "Schubert" as composer and "hirt" as keyword, and retrieve eight matches. (I am happy to report that, since I reviewed emusicquest at the 2002 Music Library Association conference in Las Vegas and noted this problem, it is no longer necessary to perform an additional search to retrieve all matches, using "shepherd" as a keyword!) But if you try the same search in the Woodwind database you retrieve only one title (with the expansion of "hirt"): Hirtenmelodien aus Rosamunde, op. 26. Very little vocal music is included within the Woodwind database, other than those Breitkopf volumes of obbligato instrumental parts for Bach's cantatas.

In general, "less is more" in emusicquest: simple searches will retrieve a larger result from which you can gain insights as to how to revise your strategy. Should your strategy fail (as did my terms "Vanhall" as composer and "clar" as instrument name), you will receive a "NO RESULTS FOUND" error message directing you to revise your search—but offering no helpful suggestions. My advice is to be persistent and creative in your search strategy: pare down your request to the bare minimum, perhaps just "Vanhall", and you will be directed by a cross-reference to use the accepted spelling, "Wanhal." Using "Wanhal" and "clar" retrieves eight items, but the clarinet and piano reduction of his concerto is still missing from the list. Searching foreign- language titles may also require persistence and creativity.

Beware the spelling-out of instrument names: remember that "less is more" in this product. Use "clarinet" as a keyword within the Classical Vocal database and you will retrieve a mere thirty-five entries which employ that term in their title; use "clar" and you will retrieve 862 entries. Should you wish to consult the "Abbreviations," you must do so from the "Search Tips" link found on the "Advanced Search" pages—or from the drop-down navigation box at the bottom of each page. Having initially missed this latter location, I would have found it more user-friendly to include a "Search Tips" link immediately below the "Advanced Search" link.

The functionality and navigability of emusicquest have improved markedly over the past sixteen months. An advanced search option is now available for each database, offering the ability to search, among other things, by duration: entering three minutes (3') will retrieve titles of...



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