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Identifying and Locating Musical Sources

Using RISM and other resources.


"The International Inventory of Musical Sources - Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM) - is an international, non-profit organization which aims for comprehensive documentation of extant musical sources worldwide. These primary sources are manuscripts or printed music, writings on music theory, and libretti. They are housed in libraries, archives, monasteries, schools and private collections.

The organization, founded in Paris in 1952, is the largest and only global operation that documents written musical sources. RISM records what exists and where it can be found. As a result, musical traditions are protected through cataloguing in a comprehensive inventory while also being made available to musicologists and musicians. Such work is thus not an end in itself, but leads directly to practical applications.

The RISM publications represent RISM's activities that began in 1952 and continue to the present day. The online catalog is the focus of RISM's current activities and is freely available online. Series A documents musical sources in two parts: printed music (A/I) and music manuscripts (A/II). Series B is designed to cover specific categories of repertory. Series A and B are supplemented by Series C, the Directory of Music Research Libraries.  Special volumes have also been published on the Tenorlied and RISM library sigla (now available as an online database"

  • Series A: Inventories of musical sources
    • A/I: Einzeldrucke vor 1800 (Individual Prints before 1800)
    • A/II: Music Manuscripts after 1600.
  • Series B: Bibliographies of Materials Organized by Topic
    • B/I and B/II: Printed collections of the 16th-18th centuries
    • B/III: The theory of music from the Carolingian Era up to c.1500 
    • B/IV: Manuscripts of polyphonic music, 11-16 centuries
    • B/V: Manuscripts of tropes and sequences
    • B/VI: Printed writings about music
    • B/VII: Manuscripts of lute and guitar tablatures
    • B/VIII: German hymns (DKL)
    • B/IX: Hebrew sources
    • B/X: The theory of music in Arabic writings, c. 900 - 1900
    • B/XI: Ancient Greek music theory
    • B/XII: Persian music theory
    • B/XIII: Hymnologica Slavica (Slavic hymns)
    • B/XIV: Manuscripts of the processional 
    • B/XV: Polyphonic music in Ibero-American sources
    • B/XVI: Palm-leaf manuscript
    • B/XVII: Trio Sonatas
  • C: Directory of Music Research Libraries
    • C/I: Canada and the United States
    • C/II-III: Sixteen European Countries
    • C/IV: Israel, Japan, and Oceania
    • C/V: Eastern Europe