UVA Arts, University of Virginia

Vol 08 Summer 18 Library
Resounding the Archives at UVA

Resounding the Archives in the Music Library

Students, staff, and faculty in the McIntire Department of Music and the Music Library at the University of Virginia are currently part of a cross-disciplinary effort that spans leading research institutions across the Commonwealth focused on reinvigorating the music of World War I in order to make it easier to be studied, researched, and played. ReSounding the Archives is a program spearheaded by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, which received a 4-VA Research Grant to fund the digital project. The project brings together digital humanities, history, and music, and its partners also include GMU’s College for the Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) and the History and English Departments, School of Performing Arts, and Special Collections at Virginia Tech. Students at all three institutions are working together to select, research, and record music as a way to explore history from new vantage points. The project website will offer digitized sheet music, historical context, and usable recordings of each song. This spring, students in Dr. Elizabeth Ozment’s ReSounding the Archives course at UVA worked with librarians Abigail Flanigan and Winston Barham to select and research WWI-era sheet music from the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Meanwhile students in the English and History departments at Virginia Tech also selected and researched sheet music, while music students at VT and GMU worked with student sound engineers to create studio recordings of each piece. In April, UVA hosted a concert and symposium for partners at all three institutions to showcase student work and to create and record live musical performances that will be available on the website. “This project gives many students their first opportunity to engage with archival materials,” Flanigan said. “They get hands-on experience finding musical material in the archive and researching how it relates to the historical moment in which it was produced, which in this case is World War I. Popular music can provide a window into the social and political trends of its time. Students researchers in Professor Ozment’s course used the sheet music they found in the archive to investigate public opinion about the war and illuminate societal attitudes regarding race, gender, and nationality.” The unique cross-institutional partnership will create resources that will benefit students and teachers for years to come, Flanigan said. “There aren’t recordings available of many of the songs from this era. By teaming up with performers from other institutions, who learned and performed the sheet music selected by student researchers at the culminating symposium, we will make high-quality recordings available for teachers to use in the classroom and for students to listen to as they are studying this era.” 

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