March 2020

BANQ Digital Resources for Music Research

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec offers a valuable selection of digital music resources that might be easily overlooked. It’s materials are not part of larger aggregates like the Internet Archive or Gallica. The catalog offers both materials that are part of the public domain and documents that can be accessed with an annual fee. At present the collection of free digital scores totals about 2,050 tiles, with a focus on French vocal sheet music and French opera vocal scores. The collection of digital audio files offers about 1,400 works, again with a focus on French vocal music. Public domain offerings also include a modest selection of opera librettos and several musical revues. Collectively these resource enable an interesting research perspective of opera and its related popular vocal music in Québec in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

RetroNews available for free during Covid-19 crisis

RetroNews is not normally included in MusRef because it is a “pay for” resource. In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, it is temporarily available for free during a two-week period. For those who are not familiar with RetroNews, it is a site developed by the Bibliothèque nationale de France that offers full text searching for about 600 historical newspapers dating from 1631 to 1950. “In addition to the resources available on Gallica, RetroNews is a digital archive consultation space, a research tool, and a magazine for all those interested in discovering history through press archives. The press archives come either from collections available in Gallica or from collections digitized by BnF-Partners. In all cases, the newspapers are indexed in Gallica: if a result is returned by the Gallica search engine, the complete fascicle can be viewed free of charge on RetroNews. RetroNews also offers advanced search tools specific to press collections and additional editorial content (articles, long formats, video, audio, etc.) for discovering the story through the press: access to these additional services is [normally] by subscription.”

Swiss Music Journals at

A growing number of historic and current music journals can be found at large aggregate sites devoted to publishing journals online. Some of these sites are nationally oriented and cover a wide variety of disciplines. Others may be sponsored by an institution, including universities and conservatories. Some of these aggregates which I monitor and use to identify electronic journals for MusRef include,, iremus.cnrs, and

This post will draw attention to e-periodica, a Swiss effort to make a wide variety of publications available for free online. The music offerings include publications dating from the early 20th century to the recent past. Some of these publications are useful as historic primary sources, while others offer relatively recent musicological research. The e-periodica site is careful to document the history and evolution of periodical titles over time. For example, the information page for the Schweizer Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft outlines the history of the periodical dating back to the Mitteilungen that first appeared in 1934. The information page also provides a link to the current sponsoring organization for the journal.

The music journals currently offered in and indexed in MusRef can be found at this link. As a side note, the journal for modern music Dissonance is currently available at a separate website, but the current site indicates back issues of Dissonance will soon be accessible at