Cambridge manuscripts and RISM Sigla

RISM Sigla Catalogue – screen shot ; see

RISM (Repertoire Internationale des Sources Musicales) has recently made an announcement about a new web site for their library sigla. RISM library sigla comprise three elements: a Country code (usually the same as used for motor vehicles), a Town code in capital letters, and a Library code in lowercase. Thus the University Library is GB-Cu, and the Pendlebury Library is GB-Cpl, and the Fitzwilliam Museum Library, GB-Cfm. They are a very useful shorthand for identifying the location of any manuscript or printed musical source, and are widely used not only RISM’s own publications but also in the New Grove/Oxford Music online [online subscription needed] and almost all musicological works. The number of libraries needing to be identified by these sigla is always increasing, and the new web site offers a new resource that will be regularly updated. The official announcement reads as follows:

The RISM library sigla are now searchable on the RISM website. A new database was developed for this purpose and it supersedes the previous PDF publications. The initial inventory consists of 7,080 library sigla. The database is updated monthly. The search results lead users to individual entries in which the usual information can be found (such as institution name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, website) in addition to, if possible, a Google map with the location of the institution pinpointed. All institutions with holdings in the RISM online catalog are marked with a star on the results list. By clicking through to the record, you can jump directly to the online catalog to view the titles from that institution.

The meaning of this last offer (of clicking through to the records of the institution) is a bit ambiguous. In fact it only clicks through to the database of ca. 1600-1800 manuscripts (RISM Series AII). No Cambridge manuscripts have yet been loaded onto that database. However the following Cambridge manuscripts are now entered on the RISM (UK) database (but not on the main RISM database).

GB Cjc = Cambridge (Great Britain), St John’s College Library           1603 sources
GB Cmc = Cambridge (Great Britain), Magdalene College Library     89 sources
GB Cp = Cambridge (Great Britain), Peterhouse Library                     485 sources
GB Cpc = Cambridge (Great Britain), Pembroke College Library        105 sources
GB Cu = Cambridge (Great Britain), Cambridge University Library   1771 sources

The manuscripts in the College libraries are only available on the RISM(UK) database.

All the University Library entries, including 3953 entries for pre-1600 and post-1800 manuscripts, are also on Newton and Library Search. There are 5724 entries for music manuscripts in the UL, and they are also available on COPAC and OCLC First Search [access via IP recognition/subscription].

Nearly 5000 entries for manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum Library are currently only available on Newton and Library Search.

The largest collection of manuscripts not included in any of the above are those in the library of King’s College, which are not yet catalogued online. These (and all ascribed Cambrdige manuscripts) are included in the photocopy catalogue of the original 1960’s RISM entries: Source inventory of manuscripts of attributed music up to 1800 in Cambridge [University and college] libraries / compiled by R.M. Andrewes (Cambridge, 1969), on the shelves in the Anderson Room at MRR.31.G58. This catalogue does not include anonymous pieces.


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