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Primary Sources for Music - Digital Collections: Interdisciplinary Resources

Links to selected primary source materials for music, including manuscripts, scores, sound recordings, sheet music, and more.

Using Interdisciplinary Primary Sources for Research:

In the case of dance, opera, and other staged works, music is only one of many elements that contribute to the final product. Primary source materials such as notes on choreography, costume and set design sketches, photographs, video footage of rehearsals, and stage directions are elements that should be considered when doing research on such works. Music also plays a role in a larger cultural context, and interdisciplinary research is of increasing importance.

Featured Resource:

Blue Mountain Project: Historic Avant-Garde Periodicals for Digital Research - A digital project initiated by Princeton University with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Blue Mountain Project concentrates on "the scarce and ephemeral texts of the period between 1848 and 1923: journals, magazines, manifestos, and other publications which, taken together, underlay the emergence of modernity in Europe and the Americas." The project creates machine-readable transcriptions of the texts, and all metadata associated with the project is freely available in its GitHub Repository. At this time, Blue Mountain has 35 titles available, including Action, Dada, Der Sturm, East & West, La Revue musicale,  and Secession.


National Gallery of Art Images- "NGA Images is a repository of digital images of the collections of the National Gallery of Art. On this website you can search, browse, share, and download images. A standards-based reproduction guide and a help section provide advice for both novices and experts. More than 45,000 open access digital images up to 4000 pixels each are available free of charge for download and use. NGA Images is designed to facilitate learning, enrichment, enjoyment, and exploration."

The Getty Search Gateway - Access to selected treasures from the Getty Museum's Special Collections, including rare books, single prints, drawings, photographs, manuscripts, and archives. Of particular note is the Getty's collection of open access images, more than 100,000 images that can be freely used by anyone.


Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev - A wide variety of materials related to impressario Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes drawn from various collections in the Music Division of the Library of Congress. Photographs, scrapbooks, writings, costume and set designs, choreographic notes, scores, diaries, and programs are included.

Bronislava Nijinska Collection - "The collection of notable dancer, choreographer and teacher Bronislava Nijinska (1891-1972) contains a diverse variety of materials documenting dance and the arts in the twentieth century. Available here are over 200 collection items, including manuscripts, books, diaries, choreographic notebooks, correspondence, moving image materials, music scores, photographs, posters, programs, set and costume designs, and scrapbooks."

Selections from the Martha Graham Collection (Library of Congress) - Focusing on Graham's work between 1918 and 1949, this collection offers concert programs, press announcements, reviews, libretti, scripts, and photographs.