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Contemporary American Composer Database Project

What is the Contemporary American Composer Database Project?

The Contemporary American Composer Database Project is a curated, searchable library database tool that researchers and scholars will be able use to discover the music scores of self-published American composers from historically marginalized groups.

In alignment with the library’s strategic plan, the project will actively seek out and incorporate works from underrepresented groups to grow an inclusive array of voices in the library’s music collections, and to foster a more equitable and representative platform for teaching, learning and research.

Background

As is the case with libraries around the world, the UC Davis Library has traditionally acquired music scores, both new and old, through conventional publishers. However, traditional publishing has often overlooked composers from underrepresented backgrounds, leaving their works absent from library collections and perpetuating a skewed narrative.

An increasing number of composers have chosen to self-publish their music, often via personal websites, but discoverability remains a challenge. While today’s social media environment provides a plethora of options for self publishers to share recordings, similar options for sharing (and finding) written scores remain limited.

Why Participate?

The Contemporary American Composer Database tool will make digital self-published scores more accessible and discoverable to professional musicians and music scholars. The searchable tool creates a new range of opportunities for audiences to discover composers and their scores, both deliberately and fortuitously.

Next Steps

From the Project Coordinator:

As an intern with the Collection Strategies Department, I am currently in the process of identifying self-published American composers to participate in this project.

Over the next several months, I will be drawing upon my own connections from the professional music world both within and outside academia to advertise the library’s interest in acquiring self-published composers’ work.

I know certain composers who may be interested in selling or contributing their own scores to the library, and others affiliated with academic music programs who may generate interest in the library’s project among their colleagues and students.

Once we have established a basic collection of scores, I will be adding information about it to the library’s research guide for music. I ultimately intend to network with fellow academic librarians who may be interested in similar collection development at their own institutions, and I hope to be able to provide a model for doing so.