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RISM (say "rizzum") stands for RĂ©pertoire International des Sources Musicales. It is an online database recording the existence, location and contents of printed books and manuscripts up to about 1850. WGMA could make significant contributions by helping to record the manuscripts and books known to our members.

The amount of detail in entries varies, but at the most detailed can include incipits, both words and music, of each part in each movement of an anthem. This would be an excellent solution to the WGMA's need for an anthem database, since we can focus on the data, and not on the need for new software.

Several WGMA members involved in research met Dr Stephen Rose of Royal Holloway College, University of London, on 22 February 2023. Some came in person to the Senate House in London, and others on Zoom. The whole meeting was recorded on Zoom, and is available in two video recordings along with timings so that viewers can find topics quickly.

Stephen introduced the history and features of RISM. Ros Clements presented an example of a MS anthem and its RISM entries. The searchable detail includes not just words and music, but also language, origin, date, composer, author and more. A reference to an entry in the Hymn Tune Index can be included.

At the simplest, WGMA members can report the existence of a source, to be followed up by other researchers. At the most ambitious, we can learn how to enter data into a spreadsheet which is in development by Stephen Rose's team, this being a step towards having the data entered into RISM through the defined process for updating the database.

The role of WGMA as an organisation is still to be defined. I would like to see it recognised as an institution in RISM, which would make it simpler for individual members to record the existence of sources that they hold. There is huge scope in RISM to record many more sources from the 18th century and into the 19th century. There are hundreds of anthems and carols which are under-represented. It is a long-term task, but a startn has now been made.

Below are links to the appropriate resources:

  Stephen Rose's Presentation as presented at the workshop providing the background to RISM.

  Meeting Index. Provides a timeline of the two videos below so that you can easily find the material you are after.

  Workshop Part 1

  Workshop Part 2

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