Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dorothy Starr: In Memory of The Twentieth Anniversary of Her Death

January 31 marks the 20th anniversary of the passing of Dorothy Starr, the beloved sheet music store proprietor. Dorothy Starr's store, The Music Stand at 381A Hayes Street, was like a secret lair filled with music scores and sheet music of all times and from all places. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Peter Stack called her "the first lady of sheet music." This photograph that accompanied a 1982 feature he wrote about her shows the bookshelves and table tops all covered in stacks of music.

photograph by Peter Breinig, from Peter Stack, "The First Lady of Sheet Music," San Francisco Chronicle (May 18, 1982), p. 40.

Ms. Starr was a charismatic figure owing to her passion about music and the musical repertoire and her in-depth knowledge of the sheet music world. The sheet music trade has changed dramatically in the 20 years since her death. During her life, few people used the internet at all, and the resources available on the internet were very limited. The online databases that existed then were not widely available and were not easy to use. There were also many more "bricks and mortar" sheet music stores than we have today. Sheet music had not yet been digitized. Additionally many library collections were largely uninventoried.

Dorothy Starr's encyclopedic knowledge of printed music and her ability to find just the right piece of music from a stack of music tucked away in some corner always impressed and charmed her loyal customers. Print reference sources and publishers catalogs were essential tools. Finding unusual sheet music during Dorothy Starr's life also required the use of experts (music dealers like herself, librarians, collectors, performers and publishers). This meant knowing who the experts were and how to find them.

Here is an example of sheet music sleuthing in the pre-digital age -- correspondence between Dorothy Starr and the M. Baron Company, March 4, 1969. Note that in addition to requesting a particular score she requests a catalog from the publisher for her future reference. The publisher replied to her query in red handwriting.

Since taking possession of Dorothy Starr's collection the Library has been continuously working to make its contents accessible to the public. We entered the first song, "'A' You're Adorable," into the Dorothy Starr Starr Collection database on July 14, 1993. In the intervening sixteen and a half years library staff and volunteers have entered an additional 33,000 records into the database.

The technological innovations of the last 20 years have made it far easier to know what music is in print, and which library collections own what music. Nevertheless, it can sometimes still be difficult to locate sheet music. The librarians of the Art, Music and Recreation Center want to be your experts for locating rare and obscure sheet music and scores. Visit us or call us at (415-557-4525) if you need any assistance.

Here is a History of the Dorothy Starr Collection which includes a biography of Dorothy Starr and the story of how the Library came to own her collection.

Here is an additional link to a Guide to Searching for Songs at the San Francisco Public Library.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Music for the Beginning Pianist

The San Francisco Public Library has many simplified arrangements of piano music for the beginner. These are suitable both for the piano student and for those who want to play for enjoyment.

The majority of these collections are shelved in the musical score section with piano instruction books (Dewey Decimal call number 786.3). Some are also shelved with children's piano music section (Dewey Decimal call number 786.41). Finally there is also section of simplified music in the call number for electronic organs (Dewey Decimal call number 786.92).

Typically these scores include fingerings. They often include chord symbols for musicians who are adept at playing by ear but wish to work on their reading skills. Some collections are simplified to the point of being "five-finger" collections, meaning that the player's hands stay fixed in a single position above the keys throughout the song. Many of these collection use large noteheads to facilitate reading by children. Some collections include an optional duet part, so that an instructor can play along. The electronic organ arrangement are written for the right hand alone and include instructions for pre-programmed chords and rhythms.

Here are lists of recent collections of simplified piano music.

Popular Music

Beginning Boogie & Rags for Piano (Boston Music Co., 2006).

Boogie and Jazz Piano Styles: Easy Big Note Piano Pieces arranged by Debra Wanless (Professional Music Institute, 2007).

Greatest Hits / Frank Sinatra (Hal Leonard, 2006).

Megahits of 2008: 13 Pop, Rock, Country and Dance Music Chartbusters arranged by Jerry Ray (Alfred Pub. Co., 2008).

Motown's Greatest Hits for Organs, Pianos & Electronic Keyboards. (Hal Leonard, 2006).

Movie Favorites (Hal Leonard, 2006).

Pop Super Hits (Hal Leonard, 2006).

Scott The Piano Guy's Favorite Piano Fake Book (Hal Leonard, 2006).

Simply Joplin: 16 of His Ragtime Classics arranged by Mary Sallee (Alfred Pub. Co., 2008).

Classical Music

Beginning Beethoven for Piano (Boston Music Co., 2006).

Beginning Chopin for Piano (Boston Music Co., 2006).

Beginning Mozart for Piano (Boston Music Co., 2006).

Beginning Romantics for Piano (Boston Music Co., 2007).

Big Book of Beginner's Piano Classics: 83 Favorite Pieces in Easy Piano Arrangements (Dover Publications, 2008).

My First Book of Bach edited by David Dutkanicz (Dover Publications, 2007).

My First Book of Beethoven edited by David Dutkanicz (Dover Publications, 2006).

World's Greatest Orchestral, Opera & Ballet Themes for Piano: 57 Best-loved Compositions by the Finest Composers (Alfred Pub. Co., 2006).

Other Music

Beginning World Music for Piano (Boston Music Co., 2006).

The Big-Note Hymn Book (Hal Leonard, 2008).
Children's TV Favorites: Themes From 8 Hit Shows (Hal Leonard, 2006).

Contemporary Disney for Organs, Pianos & Electronic Keyboards (Walt Disney Music, 2006).

TV Themes: 9 TV Classics (Hal Leonard, 2006?).

World's Greatest Children's Songs selected and arranged by Dan Fox (Alfred Pub. Co., 2008).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The World of Motion Picture Magazines: From Silent to Noir to Italian Neorealism to La Nouvelle Vague to Third Cinema

CineAction! #75 (2008)

Film magazines have existed from the very early stages of cinema itself. Wherever cinema has announced its presence, magazines, in one form or another, have followed.
Film magazines can lie at the two extremes of academic and journals at one end of the spectrum to popular, fan-oriented magazines and tabloids at the other. A current search of the subject Motion Pictures—Periodicals in the San Francisco Public Library’s catalog currently results in 144 entries. A glance through the results shows the range of what may constitute a film magazine. Some have lived a short life, while others have showed resilience. Some died young but left an everlasting impression. We also subscribe to many in only an electronic form.

Anthony Slide, in International Film, Radio, and Television Journals, has written that “There are basically six categories into which film magazines may fall: fan magazines, in-house journals, national film periodicals, technical journals, trade papers, and popular/academic journals.” The first in-house journal was published 1909. Fan magazines appeared two years later with the publication of The Motion Picture Story Magazine. Serious film criticism began with the publication of Close Up in 1927. With the emergence and staying power of Sight and Sound in 1932 cinema began to be studied as an accepted art form, not only as an entertainment. The 1970s additionally brought a few well-respect academic journals such as Wide Angle and Quarterly Review of Film Studies.

Film Criticism vol. 32/1 (Fall 2007)

Early popular trade magazines paid little attention to cinema. The first weekly solely devoted to films, The Film Index, was established in 1906. New York Variety, though it started as a weekly magazine for vaudeville entertainment, published the first film review in 1907. The 1930s are considered the golden age of the popular trade magazines. Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter began publishing in Los Angeles in the 1930s.

Arguably the most influential film magazine, Cahiers du Cinema, was founded in 1951 by André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Joseph-Marie Lo Duca. The pioneers of the French New Wave such as Jacques Rivette, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and François Truffaut wrote for it.

Classic Images #405 (March 2009)

You can explore our magazine collection online through our catalog and through databases like JStor and Art Full-Text. See also earlier entries on our blog for A Film Research Guide and Printed Indexes for Film Reviews.

Asian Cinema vol. 19/2 (Fall/Winter 2008)

Please come view the display: The World of Motion Picture Magazines: From Silent to Noir to Italian Neorealism to La Nouvelle Vague to Third Cinema. This display is located opposite the 4th floor page desk, adjacent to the staircase.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

iVisual: The Art Dawgs Resource Guide for Design Media Professionals in Northern California 2009/2010

Looking for a vintage 1952 jukebox, a 1974 Ted Nugent pinball machine, or a 1984 Ms. Pacman video game to use in your band’s next music video? Need a forensic technical advisor? Or an authentic autopsy/morgue for a scene in your horror film? Wondering how to actualize your wedding day dream of a 1,000-count white dove release? Need bubbles, butterflies, snow, fog, laser-lights, fireworks and/or controlled fire? For whatever reason.

iVisual can help. iVisual, subtitled The Art Dawgs Resource Guide for Design Media Professionals in Northern California 2009/2010, is the The Reel Directory's Bay Area-focused prop supplement. As a 'prop' and services directory for locally produced film and media projects it a valuable addition to The Reel Directory: Northern California's Production Directory, and an alternative to the more LA/NY-centric guides such as The Blu-Book Production Directory and LA 411.

At a slim 144 pages, this first volume was compiled 'by art department professionals for art department professionals' and lists reliable companies familiar with the high pressure atmosphere and tight-deadlines of the media industry. Its introduction acknowledges that this is a fledgling work with the intention of growing over the coming years. To meet that end, its writers call for additional contacts and offer an incentive to companies that provide them. Additionally, to supplement the directory's listings, iVisual has published a prop support telephone line. (415-531-9758).

The directory has the following organization:

Located in the front is a Main Category Index linking broad categories to corresponding page numbers. Examples of these Main Categories are, 'Aircraft', 'Decoratives & Mouldings,' 'Ice Sculptures & Dry Ice,' 'Plants, Silks & Artificial Greenery,' 'Wardrobe,' and 'Wigs, Hair & Hats.' Following is the Subcategory Index which links narrower headings to the broader Main Category headings. For example, if you need caution tape, look under 'Street & Alley Dressings'.

After these two indices are the actual listings, including the company name, address, phone number, related company web site and an overview of each company's services.

The final pages of the directory include the Quick Call Index listing company names and their phone numbers in alphabetical order, as well as an alphabetical list of the personal names and phone numbers of the Bay Area Art Dawgs themselves--Production Designers, Art Directors, Propmasters, Set Decorators and Stylists, all working in the Bay Area.

Note that iVisual is supplement to the Reel Directory and does not have its own bibliographic record in our online catalog. We keep the latest edition at our reference desk under the call number: 791.4 R257 2009/10 SUPPL.