Each Fall semester MUS 520, a bibliography and research skills course, is offered to new DMA students in the Music Department’s performance program. This year the curriculum began with an assignment assessing the value of content found in the Music Library’s LP collection. Like Juilliard, Yale, Northwestern and other academic music libraries, Stony Brook has a large archive of “long playing,” records (over 26,000) featuring premiere releases, unique performances and original compositions. Many performers in the collection are former Music Department faculty. Students received a demonstration on how to use the LP players, and then listened to recordings of their choice. Many reported a quality of sound superior to that of audio cds. One student said the experience was “as if I were in the concert hall with the orchestra and could tell where the instruments were positioned onstage.” Others reacted to the musical interpretations on the LPs, and found them to be a good basis of comparison for later recordings as well as their own performances. The liner notes, many written by eminent musicologists, often provide an historical context for the selections performed, and contribute well to further research in the areas of critical reception and analysis.
Other archival items discussed were manuscript facsimiles from the Music Library’s Cage, specifically the Squarcialupi Codex. (An excerpt appears below). This collection of 14th century Italian secular songs was replicated by hand in a limited edition in 1995, and is a beauty to behold, giving scholars the opportunity to interpret the original musical notation, pictorial representations and poetry of the period.