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Canadian Historical Sound Recordings

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About the Virtual Gramophone Database

General Cataloguing Principles Used in this Database

Description of the Virtual Gramophone Database Fields


The Virtual Gramophone: Canadian Historical Sound Recordings is a multi-media database which, when completed, will provide a detailed picture of the 78-rpm era in Canada. Each record in the database provides detailed information about an original recording, such as its title and performer, relevant dates, and information about the label and disc. Also accompanying selected entries are links to digitally scanned images of the label, to biographies of Canadian artists featured on the recordings, and to digital audio reproductions of recordings with Canadian content.

General Cataloguing Principles Used in this Database

To assist the user to interpret the information provided in the database, an outline of the fields and general principles followed in preparing the cataloguing entries is provided below.

Each side of each sound recording is treated as a separate entry in the database. Multiple copies of the same issue with the same label yield only a single cataloguing record for the group, while copies with the same issue number but different labels have separate entries. Because of the numerous variations on the early discs, an exception has been made for the 7-inch Canadian Berliner series, where each copy has been given a separate entry in the database.

English-language titles have descriptive information entered in English. French-language titles released primarily for the French market in Canada have descriptive information entered in French. Releases intended for both markets have bilingual descriptions. Entries in other languages, such as Italian or German, have title information transcribed in the language that appears on the disc. Descriptive information for these items is entered in English. To assist users, translations of the information found in the "Comments" field appear later in this document.

Unless otherwise indicated in the Comments field, discs are black in colour. For certain series, such as the Berliner 7-inch discs, where the discs were manufactured in a variety of colours, the colour of each disc has been noted.

Information supplied from a source other than the record label is entered in square brackets.

Fields have been left blank when information was unknown, could not be confirmed, or the field not applicable to the recording.

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Description of the Virtual Gramophone Database Fields

Performer

The name(s) of the artist(s) and all additional information about the performer(s) (such as "soprano", "with orchestra", "violin obbligato" etc.) as it appears on the label. E.g., "Henry Burr, tenor with orchestra".

Performer Heading

The authoritative version of the artist's name as found in AMICUS (Library and Archives Canada's main catalogue) or LOCIS (the Library of Congress catalogue). If the name authority for an artist was not found in either catalogue, an authority was created according to the Anglo-American cataloguing rules. Some artists are listed on the label with only "Mr.", "Mrs.", "M.", "Mme" etc., before their surname or given name. In such instances, these titles were used where a first initial or given name was lacking.

Title

Title of a musical selection on a disc, transcribed as it appears on the disc.

Composer / Lyricist

The lyricist and composer of the selection as indicated on the label or in the reference sources: e.g., John Smith, lyrics ; George Grosse, music.

Larger Work

This field is used if a selection is part of a larger work, such as an opera, movie or Broadway show, as identified on the label or in the reference sources.

Album Set Title

The title of an album, transcribed as it appears on the binder or label.

Generic Label

The Generic Label is used to bring all the label names in a particular "family" together. For example, the Generic Label "Berliner" will group together all the terms used on various Berliner records, such as "Concert", "Gramophone", "Imperial", "E. Berliner", etc.

Transcribed Label

The Transcribed Label is the major label name as it appears on the disc. Berliner Concert Grand, E. Berliner's Gramophone, His Master's Voice, Starr, etc. are examples one might find in this field.

Sub Label

The Sub Label is the secondary label name on a disc, e.g., Grand Prize, Improved Gram-o-phone Record, etc.

Issue Number

The Issue Number is the number the record company has assigned to a disc. It is the principal number of the disc as it appears on the disc.

Matrix Number

The Matrix Number is often handwritten or stamped on the run-out area of the disc. It is the number assigned to identify the source of a particular recording.

Take Number

The take number as it appears on the disc, or otherwise found in reference sources. A question mark is used when two or more take numbers are indicated in the reference sources as being issued: e.g., [1 or 2?].

Side Number

The designation as it appears on each side of a disc, e.g., side 1, side 2.

Album Number

An Album Number is the number assigned by the record company to a set of discs, if different from the numbers for the individual discs in the set.

Coupling Number

Where separate issue numbers have been assigned for each side of a disc, the Coupling Number field in the cataloguing entry for Side 1 gives the Issue Number for Side 2 and vice versa. Thus, users can make the link between what might otherwise appear to be separate discs.

Control Number

A Control Number is a false matrix number assigned by a record company to disguise the source of the original recording, often a master recorded by another company.

Miscellaneous Numbers

Miscellaneous numbers that appear on discs or on the run-out area, including stamper numbers for other issues. Note that numbers appearing on the reverse of a single-sided disc are thus indicated. e.g., 22 (on reverse).

Distributor

The company that distributed the disc.

City

The name, if known, of the city where the distributor was based.

Manufacturer

The company that manufactured the disc.

Province/Country

Province and country of manufacture.

Date of recording

Date of recording in the format: dd mm yyyy (e.g., 12 Apr 1905). A question mark indicates a probable date and "ca." indicates an approximate date.

Recording Location

City, province or state, and country, if not Canada or United States, where original recording took place.

Recording Company

The name, if known, of the company that originally recorded the disc.

Release Date

Date of release in the format: dd Mmm yyyy (e.g., [ca 12 Apr 1905]). Canadian recordings rarely have the release date indicated on them. The majority of the release dates given in The Virtual Gramophone were obtained through research in local newspapers published about the time of the recording, in trade publications such as the Canadian Music Trades Journal, or from record company release sheets and catalogues. For purposes of this database, the first newspaper citation of a particular recording has been considered its release date where more precise information is missing.

Release Year

Year of release as indicated in the previous field. This field is included for ease of sorting within the database.

Issue type

Used to differentiate between an original pressing and a different contemporary or later reissue, e.g., release on another label. See Glossary for definitions of the following issue types: primary label, secondary label, contemporary release, reissue.

Alternate Issues

Information pertaining to another release of the same issue.

Comments

Provides descriptive information that is not included in the other fields of the database. The comments field is categorized into the following three sections.

  1. Physical appearance of 7 or 10-inch discs.
    For example, the disc colour or inscribed information on the disc.

  2. Texts on 7 or 10-inch disc paper labels.
    For example, patent or licensing information.

  3. Additional information about 7 or 10-inch discs.
    For example, notes about song titles or alternate issue numbers

To view comments relating to physical appearance and texts appearing on 7-inch disc paper labels, view  Comments: Physical appearance; Texts appearing on paper labels (7 and 10-inch). Please note that many of the descriptive comments relating to texts on 10-inch disc paper labels have been condensed. To see the phrasing found on the 10-inch disc paper labels view  Comments: Texts appearing on paper labels (10-inch).

Authority

The source of information for a cataloguing record: primarily the disc and label, but also published discographies, private collectors, or record company catalogues. The bibliography lists all of the reference sources used throughout the database.

SMD

Sound Material Designation: refers to the physical format of the commercial recording, e.g., cylinder, sound disc, cassette, CD, etc.

Dimensions

Refers to the size of a disc (e.g., 7 inch or 10 inch). Note that "other" is used to indicate an 8-inch disc. This information then appears in the Comments field.

Genre

The general type of music contained on the record. Note that "other" has been used for spoken word / monologue records.

Sub-Genre

A subset of genre giving information about the specific nature of the selection, such as a type of dance step, e.g., waltz, fox trot, etc., or monologue, narration, recitation, spoken word, comic sketch, etc.

Language

Language of performance is indicated in this field. If the language of the recording is not specified on the label or in reference sources, then it has been confirmed by listening.

Siglum

A brief identifier designating where the discs are located, e.g., OONL (Ontario Ottawa National Library). Note that the Siglum is left blank if the physical copy of a disc is with a private collector, or in no known collection.

Shelf Number

Each disc in Library and Archives Canada's collection is given an accession number. This number is used in the Shelf Number field. If information is given for a disc that is not held by Library and Archives Canada, the term "unseen / non vérifié" is used in place of a shelf number.

Please Note

Cataloguing Rules have been applied from the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed., Amendments 1993 (AACR2) and the Descriptive Cataloguing Manual, of the National Library of Canada, unto Update #10, 1998.

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