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Fall Reflections from the NLS Music Section’s Librarian-in-Residence

We are excited to post this blog from our first-ever Librarian-in-Residence, Brian McNeilly. His contributions to the Music Section are tremendously appreciated.

As our long summer days begin to shorten and the weather cools, autumn often provides a time to reflect on personal changes as the year begins to draw to a close. The autumnal equinox this year, September 22nd, happens to fall almost exactly at the midway point for my time as a Librarian-in-Residence at the NLS Music Section. This has given me a large opportunity to look back on what I’ve already done and the work I’m still going to do in my all-too-brief time at the Library of Congress.

In many ways, changes are a particularly apt way of thinking about my time at the Music section. As a Librarian-in-Residence, I came to the Music Section with a deep background in digital accessibility and with some experience cataloging books. However, my music education was limited to playing the bagpipes and my knowledge skewed more towards Johnny Cash than Erik Satie.

One of the major projects I have been tackling has been with editing large batches (hundreds potentially to up to thousands) of records at once. Using regular expressions, I have created a set of rules to have computers search through each record and search for a specific pattern. Depending on what the pattern finds, the record content can be automatically updated or replaced. The edited records should more clearly define the instruments used in a given score, or the type of braille music used, making searching for content easier and more efficient for users. Through this project, I’ve begun to scratch the surface of working with braille music, as well as been exposed to wider music theory concepts. For the remainder of my time at NLS, I hope to engage more with digital braille files and am able to get a deeper understanding of braille music notation and how to improve our records for users.

Just as I have been using this fall to reflect on the work I’ve done, and what the future will hold, many composers have written pieces dedicated to the transition of summer into autumn. Here are a few of my favorite pieces of fall music from the NLS Music Section:

Braille

Kosma, Joseph. Autumn Leaves (BRM08233)

Strauss, Richard. September. For high voice and piano in line by line and bar over bar formats. (BRM17826)

Popular Music Lead Sheets No. 15. Included in this piece is September Song. (BRM28356)

MacDowell, Edward. In Autumn (BRM12826)

Wayne, Jeff. Forever Autumn (BRM25315)

Dutton, Theodora. Dance of the Autumn Leaves (BRM10775)

Rebikov, Vladimir. Autumn Thoughts (BRM32539)

Audio

Whorf, Mike. And the Days Grow Short as You Reach September (DBM00932)

Brown, Bill. October. Bill Brown teaches October from Tchaikovsky’s “The Seasons” without the use of music notation. (DBM03946)

Brown, Bill. Great Pumpkin Waltz. Bill Brown teaches how to play Vince Guaraldi’s “Great Pumpkin Waltz” on the piano without the use of music notation. (DBM03905)

Weill, Kurt. “September Song” from Popular Music Lead Sheets no. 15. Includes five songs with lyrics, vocal part, partial acc. (right hand), and chord symbols dictated. The music is not performed. (DBM01287)

Large Print

MacDowell, Edward. Woodland Sketches. Included in this piece is In Autumn, referenced previously. (LPM00089)

September and Nostalgic Songs. Included in this piece is September Song, referenced previously. (LPM00343)

If you wish to borrow any of the items listed in this post, feel free to download them from BARD directly to your smart device. To borrow hard copies of braille music or talking books on digital cartridge, give us a call us at 1-800-424-8567 extension 2, or e-mail us at [email protected] If you need any assistance with BARD, you can call or email us, or consult the following links: Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) and BARD Access.

New BARD Additions: August 2021

This month, the NLS Music Section has added many new materials to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download), including songs by Adele, Johnny Cash, and Broadway’s Robert Lopez! There are also new piano lessons from Bill Brown and new transcriptions of the Tradition of Excellence concert band method. Read on to learn more about our latest digital offerings!

American Music from A to Z in the NLS Music Collection: C–Cash, Canada, and CELA

Explore all the new Johnny Cash braille music scores in our collection and learn about how the NLS Music Section acquired them from Canada’s Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA), thanks to the Marrakesh Treaty!