A Visit to the NUS Music Library

Yesterday, The Girlfriend and I visit the NUS Music Library to find music scores.

The Music Library is simply amazing. They’ve got shelves and shelves of interesting stuff.

One thing, in particular, that caught our eyes was this:

img_3772Oversized scores and maniature scores? What’s that?

Let me show you the difference by putting a miniature score next to an oversized one:

img_3773They certainly weren’t kidding with the label: “oversized”.

The miniature scores are about the size of my hand. That’s how small they are! In fact, they’re so small, the scores themselves (in the booklets) are really tiny!

img_3774I’ve placed a 10-cent coin there (about 1cm in diameter) to give you a sense of just how small the miniature scores are. It’s THAT small!!! I have no idea how people read it while performing.

These are the oversized books. Again, I’ve placed a 10-cent coin there just to give you a sense of how HUGE these books are.

img_3775Why are they soooooooo huge?

Here’s why:

img_3776I’m guessing these books are meant for the conductor. Each page contains the musical staves for every instrument in the orchestra.

What I like about the Music Library is that they have reprints of really old books as well. One book in particular preserves the original hand-written score by some composer in the 17th century.

Here’s how the music notes are written:

img_3777I’m not an expert in this, but I think this was the period when the classical music notation (the one we’re familiar with) was still evolving out of the Gregorian chant notation. The notes look a lot like the neumes (notes) in a Gregorian chant score (little diamonds and squares). But now, they’ve added stems to the thing.

The other interesting point about this photo is this – take a look at the top two starves. Notice how there’s a cursive letter “G” written on the left? That’s the precursor of the modern-day treble cleft. The treble cleft is known as the G-cleft. Why? Because a long time ago, they would write the letter G on a specific line of a musical stave to tell you where the G note was. Over time, the cursive “G” evolved into the treble cleft that we know today! Cool, isn’t it?

Anyway, there’s a lot of interesting finds in the Music Library. For example, they’ve got, “Pascal Programming for Music Research”!

img_3771And if that’s not all, they’ve even got a futuristic-sounding Buddhist-sutra piece of classical music!

img_3770If you are experiencing cognitive dissonance, don’t worry. I think it’s normal. I experienced that too reading the title. Seriously… “Vortex” and “Sutra” are not words that go hand in hand in my mind, unless the Buddha was some kind of space-time travelling guy who travels through wormholes.

You’ve got to love the Music Library. There’s so many interesting books hiding in the shelves.