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American Today

New at the Library

A World of Music is Open to AU Through the Library at Katzen

By Sally Acharya

In the mood for the cool jazz of Miles Davis? It’s right there, on your AU computer, along with Beethoven’s symphonies, Afghan folk singers, and African pygmies who sing in bird-like warbles as they carry leaves and hunt honey.

The latter recordings were made almost 50 years ago in the Ituri rainforest by famed anthropologist Colin Turnbull. As for Beethoven—or for that matter, Mozart or Brahms or scores of other classical composers—there are dozens of recordings, all available to be streamed to the computer of any member of the AU community, whether on campus or at home.

It’s all part of the online presence of AU’s Music Library, whose rich offerings have long been known to music and theatre students, but now are finding a wider audience among Web-savvy students.

The library itself is tucked into a corner of a back hallway of the Katzen Arts Center. It’s only two small rooms. One room is filled mainly with moveable metal shelves crammed with bound musical scores, some 5,000 CDs, and stacks of boxes filled with fragile, yellowed sheet music that once sat on Victorian pianofortes.

The other holds computers for accessing music by CD or online, and a single example of a vintage curiosity that few students own themselves: a record turntable.

The bound scores of classical music circulate heavily among music students. Broadway musicals are in constant demand by music theatre students, who listen to CDs and peruse the scores. Students taking general education courses in music are constantly checking out required CDs.

But it’s the library’s online database that has the widest reach.

“Many students now want to use online reference resources rather than paper, so I try to accommodate,” says music librarian Nobue Matsuoka-Motley.

That is where the Music Library really shows itself to be a hidden treasure.

Students from the School of International Service stream music from around the world, and the variety of offerings—jazz, classical, folk—can be used and enjoyed by anyone in the community.

Like any library, it takes a bit of poking around to unearth the treasures. The basic path, though, is simple. On the Music Library page (which can be found under “about the library” on the library home page), look for a link called “music indexes and databases.” It whisks the visitor to a long list of resources, all of them useful to students and scholars, but two of which open a door to a world of music: “Naxos Jazz” and “Naxos Music Library.”

Between them, the sites contain, in essence, much of the repertoire of Western classical music, along with a huge sampling of music from around the world—pop and jazz, classical, and folk. There’s a vast array of the planet’s musical traditions, from Latvian bagpipes to Bali’s gamelan music to an epic song from Iceland.

There’s even a section for educational fun and games. Who wrote the music for the Harry Potter films? If you answered “John Williams,” you might do well in the interactive games in the Junior Section, which is full of classical music materials for kids.

Provided, of course, that you also know there are four operas in Wagner’s Ring Cycle and that “serialism” is another word for a 12-tone composition. But if you spend enough time in AU’s Music Library, those questions should be a breeze.