Still discovering iDiscover?

The Farewell to Voyager post a few weeks ago prompted some further comments about iDiscover. So here’s a quick follow-up post about iDiscover, which, in the best Darwinian tradition, is constantly evolving. Continue reading

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Shirley we can’t be serious… New films at the Pendlebury

Thanks to a new course on film music beginning in January, we have added lots of new DVDs to Pendlebury stock in the last few weeks. Scroll down for a taster!

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Doctor Who – the Cambridge connection

A few days ago I heard the news that Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) had been posthumously awarded an honorary PhD from Coventry University. I’d known her name for many years, but hadn’t realised that she was a Cambridge alumna, attending Girton College in the 1950’s.

I was a small child in the late ’60’s, and Derbyshire was an important part of my life. Her eerie arrangement of Ron Grainer’s theme tune to Doctor Who still reminds me of the thrill of hiding behind a sofa, hoping that the Autons, who I found particularly terrifying were not going to be in this episode. (Along with many ’60’s children, I was a fan of the Daleks, cheering when they finally made their way up a flight of stairs in a more recent incarnation of the Doctor). Ron Grainer, like Derbyshire, was equally interested in both music and mathematics, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the two worked so well together.

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What did Voyager do for us?


In January librarians across Cambridge will be using a different Library Management System. Voyager has been a (generally!) faithful servant for the last 15 years, and it’s time to move on to a new system that’s better able to cope with the demands of a swiftly changing digital world. Helen will be telling you all about Alma, our new system in due course, but in the meantime, if you notice lines of librarians skulking off to training rooms clutching folders, you’ll know what they’re up to.

Voyager itself will be switched off in its entirety over the holiday period, as the transition to Alma begins. Generally the change should have little noticeable effect on reader usage. Even during the downtime of the Library Management System most things will work as usual. Library collections will still be searchable via iDiscover .  Do remember that most music scores are on the card catalogue, which is not affected by IT hiccups! At long last the card catalogue comes into its own. Continue reading

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Luther 500: some musical aspects

Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Today, Friday 10th November is Martin Luther’s 534th birthday and last week marked the 500th anniversary of the day he nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, precipitating what David Starkey in his BBC programme of 21 October described as ‘seismic changes’ across Europe. The rapid promulgation of his ideas was made possible by the recent invention of the printing press which today – again according to Starkey – could be likened to a Twitter Storm. The Reformation had arrived. So how did this act of what Hans Keller would have called truth-seeking affect our musical lives? Continue reading

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In memoriam

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Following on from last week’s Halloween post, we will now look at the season of Allhallowtide from a religious angle. The triduum of All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day is a time to remember saints, martyrs and our deceased loved ones. Many local practices and traditions relating to the commemoration of the dead in Christian worship have given rise to an extensive repertoire of music. In the music collections at Cambridge University Library we find many examples of religious ritual and funerary music, ranging from early chant to contemporary works.  Searching for subjects such as “requiems” and “funeral music” will give you some insight into this fascinating repertoire.

For the purpose of this blog, I would like to introduce you to one particular item:, a Roman Catholic choir-book which starts with a mass to celebrate the festival of All Souls’ day. As an example of a stencilled book of liturgical notated music, it may also tickle the interest of the book historians amongst you.  Continue reading

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A Musical Halloween


It doesn’t do to linger around MusiCB3 on a dark night. The labyrinth beneath the Anderson Room is home to witches, spirits, and unusually musical skeletons, and many unwary travellers have fallen foul of the long winding underground passageways full of ghostly music. The Pendlebury likewise is rife with scary monsters and creepy film music. Scroll down to discover some of our spookiest items…

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