British & Irish Sound Archives conference 2017 - abstracts

2017 British & Irish Sound Archives (BISA) annual conference, 17-18 November, Edinburgh, Scotland


Almut Boehme & Alistair Bell (National Library of Scotland): The Dean-Myatt Collection: from acquisition to online
This presentation will introduce a major collection of historical sound recordings acquired through the generous donation of discographer William Dean-Myatt who has developed the collection over more than four decades.  It was his research into Scottish label Beltona that led him to contact the Music Collections of the National Library of Scotland initially. Dean-Myatt then extended his research into other record labels as he worked on his Scottish vernacular discography, 1888-1960 which was published in 2013.
This joint presentation will explore the lifecycle processing of this collection from acquisition to cataloguing, preservation, digitisation and access.  In so-doing it will provide a real-life case-study for collection managers of the challenges and opportunities of managing musical sound recording collections. Almut Boehme will introduce the collection with an overview of the content, the acquisition and physical transfer of the collection and discuss preservation and cataloguing issues. Alistair Bell will then talk about the recent digitisation completed on a sample of the collection, overcoming copyright barriers by using licences to provide online access to the recordings.

Lynnsey Weissenberger (Irish Traditional Music Archive): The Linked Irish Traditional Music (LITMUS) Project at the Irish Traditional Music Archive

Linked open data (LOD) has shown great promise in cultural heritage and digital humanities applications, making cultural heritage materials accessible to wider audiences via the Semantic Web. According to Pattuelli, "Ontologies represent agreed domain semantics,1" also noting the particular challenges of representing digital cultural heritage materials. Among the few music ontologies developed, none adequately express orally-based traditions like Irish traditional music and dance (ITM).
This paper will describe several key issues related to a current project of constructing a linked data ontology for ITM. Specifically, the paper will describe challenges and opportunities surrounding the selection of appropriate materials as well as challenges of accurately representing complex musical relationships: musician-musician; musician-music; variants of tunes; where the variation ends and the act of composition begins; and, Irish language and English language equivalents in musician, tune, and geographic place names. Several current projects within Ireland such as Linked for Irish-English geographic place names are working to create linked data sets that could be re-used within a future ontology constructed specifically for ITM. This linked data ontology project is the first to represent a music tradition propagated primarily through oral transmission. Once completed, it will enable future opportunities for digital discovery and further research in ethnomusicology and digital humanities.
1.    Pattuelli, M. C., Provo, A., & Thorsen, H. (2015). Ontology building for linked open data: A pragmatic perspective. Journal of Library Metadata, 15(3-4), 265-294.

Amy McDonald (Connecting Scotland’s Sounds) & Morag Cockburn (Scottish Borders Archives): Working together to hear Scotland’s heritage

The two-year Connecting Scotland’s Sounds initiative comes to a close in late 2017. Amy McDonald will give an overview of the project’s knowledge exchange programme and public engagement activities, which have looked to champion the preservation and sharing of Scotland’s sound heritage. Based at the National Library of Scotland and supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the project has been instrumental in building the Scotland’s Sounds network of people with an interest in Scotland’s archive audio. This presentation will feature examples of engagement projects with a view to inspiring other BISA conference attenders to connect new listeners with their recordings. The theme of partnership will be threaded throughout, as this has been the foundation stone of Connecting Scotland’s Sounds.
Engagement activities have included a partnership project based in the Scottish Borders – ‘Sounding Borders’. Programmed and delivered by Scottish Borders Archives, Scran and Connecting Scotland’s Sounds, Sounding Borders provided opportunities for people to generate creative responses to archive oral history recordings. Morag Cockburn will take attenders on a virtual tour of the animations, poetry, film, and short stories inspired by spoken memories which came out of this project.

Will Prentice (The British Library): Unlocking Our Sound Heritage

The HLF-funded, five year Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project, has several ambitious goals. As well as digitally preserving half a million sound recordings from the British Library and collections around the UK, it aims to transform the public understanding of the value and vulnerability of sound heritage.

This paper will summarise the work done so far.  As well as discussing planning, workflow methodologies, access and training strategies, it will look at some of the collections preserved during its first four months.

Shanice Martin (The Arkive): Access All Eras of Beggars Group’s Living Legacy: How The Arkive Creatively Engages with Their Fans, Music Lovers, Public and How They Preserve Their Past

The Arkive is the catalogue and archive department of Beggars Group, preserving the past and present of Beggars Group labels, artists and its cultural history. Beggars Group is the home to record labels including: Beggars Banquet, 4AD, Matador, XL Recordings, Rough Trade Records, with Adele, Gary Numan, The Breeders and many more super talented and groundbreaking artists on their new and old rosters. The Arkive can be seen within Beggars Group as a living library, holding one of the most colourful and important collections of independent music and record label
history. Beggars Group have and continued to, heavily influence and contribute to the music industry, subcultures and popular culture.

This paper would examine how The Arkive creatively provides access to their rich music heritage inclusively for everyone who may belong to a music community or may feel nostalgic and want a trip down memory lane. Where were you when you first heard Firestarter by Prodigy? This paper would show the steps and processes of how The Arkive achieve this, from remastering, digitising, to cataloguing particularly analogue formats and my involvement in the archive as an archive coordinator.
I would plan and would look forward to cover the following areas:
- Historical background of The Arkive and Beggars Group
- Examples of creative interactivity and engagement between The Arkive and the public. This would include
*Film screenings
*Social Media
*Broadcasts - Television, Radio, Youtube
- Preservation and digitisation of analogue formats both audio and audiovisual
- My role as an archive co-ordinator at The Arkive
By discussing the areas above on how The Arkive's creative engagement between the archive and the public, I hope to interest and inspire attendees on how to be creative with own their archives and collections in reaching out to their targeted audiences. Additionally I hope to intend with my paper to open up discussions between attendees of the conference on sharing past and current experiences on this matter.

Charlie McCann  (BBC Scotland): Digital to Digital - Mass Digitisation of BBC Scotland’s CD collection

As part of the BBC’s ongoing preservation our archive digitally BBC Scotland has been given the opportunity to digitise the entirety of our CD collection over the summer of 2017.

The collection consists of around 14000 discs covering BBC Radio Scotland programme masters, Scottish Symphony Orchestra performances,  Gaelic Language programming, News and Sport, some of which is labelled and accessioned across a number of our archive systems while a significant minority has not been accessioned and lacks all but the absolute minimum of metadata.

This paper hopes to outline upon the process and reflect on the challenges of mass digitisation of a somewhat neglected digital carrier. It will document the auditing of the physical stock, the ripping process, transfer to our digital library for preservation and the processing and creating access to the material for our colleagues in production.

Fiona Mackenzie (National Trust for Scotland): Cleachd i no Caill i- Use it or Lose it

“The ‘living’ archive’s aim is not to bury the past in boxes or databases for posterity, but to unearth fresh forms of thinking from what has gone before” – Hogan, M. (2012) Concordia University.
The National Trust for Scotland has been tasked with the development, conservation and ‘promotion’ of the unique Canna Collections of Folklore & Folksong and the extensive Sound Archive of Hebridean Song & Story recorded in the 1930’s and 40’s, all housed on the tiny Hebridean Island of Canna. The unique vision of folklorists John Lorne Campbell and his wife Margaret Fay Shaw, the Collections comprise substantial collections of Gaelic literature, folksongs, stories, photographs, research papers and Lepidoptera, all enhanced by the spectacular collection of over 1400 recordings of voices long since gone, depicting a disappeared way of Hebridean Life and Heritage.
Irreplaceable, the Sound Archives are unique and breath-taking. How can we ensure that these archives retain the collector’s vision of a working, living, breathing, useful repository of information, inspiration and idea?  Can we make it earn its keep?  How to maintain its integrity and respect the Tradition- crucially, draw in new audiences, academic and cultural. Educate, instigate and propagate.
Using evidence from creative work with partners such as the National Library of Scotland and the National Theatre of Scotland, sound archive material, visual provenance (film & photography) of the Canna Archives and her own voice, Canna Archivist and Gaelic singer Fiona J Mackenzie, presents the compelling evidence for the future, from the evidence of the past

Ewan McVicar (freelance writer, researcher and publisher): Mining the Archives

Processes, pleasures and problems when creating publications from archive recordings. The work of selecting, editing, transcribing, glossing, sequencing, researching, describing, getting permissions, publishing and writing about material from  Scottish song archives.


Peter Laurence (Eda Kuhn / Loeb Music Library, Harvard University, USA) & Filip Šír (National Museum, Czech Republic) Connect, Collect, Collaborate: Join Us As We Create the International Bibliography of Discographies

The IASA Discography Committee is continuing its work on the online International Bibliography of Discographies - connecting members of institutions with private collectors, and collecting information about worldwide discographic work in all languages. Collaboration is key in building the Bibliography, and we already benefit from a network of partners who share our goals for such a resource - peer associations, memory institutions, individual collectors, and discographers. The first version of the Bibliography will be available on the IASA website by mid-2017. With entries submitted by our team and by members of our international network, it covers current and out-of-print discographies published in book, article, CD-ROM, database and website formats. We have focused on bibliography due to the need for a full multi-lingual, international survey of discographies. But we are also creating a stored archive of digital (pdf) versions of complete works which will be linked to their corresponding entries in the Bibliography.

POSTER ABSTRACT: Stuart Eydmann Scottish Traditional Music and the Personal Archive in the Age of the Compact Cassette

The arrival of the popular recording technology of the compact cassette coincided precisely with a dynamic and transforming phase of revival, regeneration and innovation in traditional music in Scotland. Adoption of the new tape format led to the creation of vast numbers of privately-made and used recordings of the music, many of which survive unseen and unheard in archives and in personal collections. This presentation argues that the time is right for a research initiative to survey, conserve and interpret them and to make their content accessible, and discusses steps being taken towards this.

POSTER ABSTRACT: Christian Poske Revisiting the Sources: Fieldwork in the Bengal Region with the Bake Collection of the British Library Sound Archive

POSTER ABSTRACT: Julia Bishop The Carpenter Folk Online Project: Upping the Volume at the VWML

This poster discusses Carpenter Folk Online, a one-year collaboration between the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen and the English Folk Dance and Song Society to integrate the J. M. Carpenter collection into the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library’s website. Funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, and with the permission of the Library of Congress, the project will significantly enhance the content and functionality of the site.

To date the VWML’s digital archive provides access to over 20 collections of traditional music, song, dance and custom, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and in manuscript form. These can be discovered via a single interface which allows cross searching, geographic browsing, and more.

The Carpenter collection is an extensive folk arts collection, much of which was gathered in England and Scotland in 1929-35, and to a lesser extent in Wales, Ireland and the USA in 1927-43. An academically trained collector from America, Carpenter documented over 2000 folk songs and 300 folk (‘mummers’) plays, as well as a lesser number of fiddle tunes, customs, games and tales. His collection is important for a number of reasons, not least because it is the first in England and Scotland to make systematic use of sound recording in the documentation of traditional music and song. Never published, the collection was bought by the Library of Congress in 1972 where it has been preserved and digitised but only accessible on site.

The poster will introduce the Carpenter collection and discuss the scope and challenges of the project, as well as the new directions it is opening up. It is hoped to complement the poster with multimedia examples accessed through the use of the augmented reality app, LayAR.