Make music with Natasha from the Music Library

With Make Music Day fast approaching, Natasha from the Music Library reflects on how the department is still very much available to music lovers whilst the building remains closed.

I’ve worked in the Music Library for nearly two and a half years now and ever since my first day I’ve continued to discover a whole new world. When you step into the department, you’re greeted by a huge selection of CDs, DVDs, sheet music, and books – not to mention the vast amount of stock in the annexes! I’ve found it’s so very easy to get lost amongst such spoils, so easy to find the piece of music I need to practise for my choir rehearsals, so easy to browse the CDs for something new, so easy to chat to customers and my colleagues and hear what they recommend. Whilst we’re all unable to visit the building, you could be forgiven for thinking that all of those lovely things about the library stop too. That’s certainly not the case: much can be found, enjoyed and shared through the online resources Edinburgh Libraries offer. I already knew of the wonder of using these platforms and now, through lockdown, I’ve come to appreciate them even more.

Listen – Naxos Classical and Jazz catalogues
The Naxos streaming service gives users access to over 150,000 recordings through the Naxos Classical Music Library and almost 20,000 recordings in the Naxos Jazz Library. This means there is easily something for everyone, with new recordings being added constantly to each. The Naxos catalogues are completely free to use, no adverts interrupt playback and tracks can be downloaded to be listened to offline for 30 days.

At work, the Music Library often has music streaming from Naxos, in particular the classical catalogue. Staff either scour the new releases tab and have a listen to something unfamiliar and intriguing, or perhaps a new recording of a famous work. Often, if we’ve been discussing a particular composer or performer, we’ll find examples of their work to play. It’s a real treasure trove. If classical and jazz music are things you struggle to find a way into, there’s plenty that could appeal. For example, I recently found myself down a rabbit hole of Led Zeppelin covers and arrangements, varying from contemporary jazz to chamber music interpretations. There’s also a huge range of film music and a growing section of a genre I am very taken by, video game music. One album I find I come back to time and time again is Symphonic Fantasies, a live album of orchestral arrangements of music from a selection of Square Enix games – some of which are my absolute favourite games to play, with their music often being a huge factor in my enjoyment.

There’s something so pleasing about being able to switch so easily between Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an ExhibitionThe Lego Movie Soundtrack, classical guitar arrangements of The Beatles’ hits, traditional music from across the globe, and back again. In the absence of communal listenings in the Music Library, this variety is most welcome.

Watch –
A newly acquired service currently being piloted is which has a vast collection of concert and performance videos, documentaries and master classes to be enjoyed. As with Naxos, this service costs nothing to use and is free from adverts during playback.

If you’re like me and are unable to partake in the normal music-making you do, watching some of the masterclasses is a really informative way to learn more about your musical practice and it has certainly helped me feel less ‘out of the loop’; even though I’m nowhere near the mantle of opera singer, I’ve found Joyce DiDonato’s master classes illuminating when it comes to technique and performance.

Master Class with Joyce DiDonato at Carnegie Hall, available to watch on

The range of performances available to view is rather impressive and I am hoping will serve as a gateway for me to understand a little more about opera, a genre that I must admit I am less familiar with. Armed with some recommendations from my uncle – whose car is constantly filled with arias, overtures and symphonies – I also turn my focus to the selections from my colleague Douglas, with whom I naturally talk about music most of the time when in the library:

“There is such a lot to recommend from that it is difficult to know where to stop. I have, so far, had time to watch a few operas and dip into the concerts, recitals and documentaries.

The opera productions seem to fall into two categories: as the composer intended them and the just plain weird. There is nothing wrong with either of these categories, though there is at least one production from the first category that should come with a warning about prevailing attitudes to race, gender and ethnicity which makes it uncomfortable to watch.

One production which would fall into my second category is Puccini’s Turandot, performed by Teatro Regio’s: a stunning, stylised, watchable production with sublime singing, notably from In-Sung Sim as Timor, the deposed King. Puccini died leaving this opera unfinished so it was completed by Franco Alfano. This production stops the action approximately where Puccini laid down his pen and, although he had sketched out an ending which Alfano more or less worked to, the Teatro Regio’s ending seems to make more sense of the work.

Puccini’s Turandot, a production by Teatro Regio Torino, available to view on

On my ‘list to watch’ is Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain and Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer. The list grows by the week as I discover more I would like to sample.”

Read – RBdigital and PressReader
In a time where information is instantly available at our fingertips thanks to the internet, it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures that come from reading publications. Our digital publications platforms, RBdigital and PressReader, have access to hundreds of specialist magazines, including the music-specific BBC MusicMojoQRolling Stone, and Billboard amongst many others. An advantage these apps give over print magazines is that you’re able to change font size, background colour and can enable text to speech, making them much more accessible to some readers.

One thing I have enjoyed about lockdown is the ability to revisit things I had overlooked before or felt I hadn’t the time to do before. This has taken the form of finishing knitting projects I’ve left abandoned, drawings I’ve not had the energy to do. The same can be said for music magazines.

I’ve looked back at my RB Digital profile; January 2019’s copy of Mojo has been downloaded, waiting to be read, the front cover emblazoned with a striking image of one of my favourite artists, Kate Bush. Other names that caught my interest are on the cover: Peter Gabriel; Jimi Hendrix; Christine and the Queens; Kamasi Washington. I’d downloaded the issue so I could read through it at my own leisure but, until recently, it had remained untouched. With slightly more time on my hands than usual, I’ve been able to come back and see what I’d missed. Looking through the Best Albums of 2018 List, seeing which of them I’d already borrowed from the Music Library, including the wonderful second albums Fenfo by Fatoumata Diawara and Chris by the aforementioned Christine and the Queens, the latter of which often finds itself played in the Music Library when Rehana and I are on duty together. Finding more albums that I’ve overlooked and making notes that I should definitely borrow them when I can be in the department once again, filling the void of feedback we get from borrowers; libraries are brilliantly communal places that allow a wealth of shared knowledge and experiences. I also finally read the piece on Kate Bush, dotted with images of her in bold costumes and bright knitted jumpers. I found a BBC Music issue I had downloaded that I have no recollection as to why I chose to keep it. It’ll be quite exciting to remember what made it catch my eye, alongside trying to find recommended recordings on Naxos.

There are aspects to music and library life that cannot fully be replaced during this very odd time of lockdown. It has, however, opened my eyes to parts that I perhaps overlooked a little before. Make Music Day takes place on Sunday 21 June and, in honour of that, I shall spend this week in particular celebrating all of the Music Library’s facets.

If you have queries or need help with any of the online services Natasha recommends, please contact

Make Music Day 2020

This time last year, the Music Library team were busy planning and preparing to take part in their first Make Music Day of all-day live music sessions in Central Library. This year things are a bit different. We hand over to Douglas from the Music Library to tell you how Make Music Day will be celebrated later this month.

Douglas with other members of the Music Library team on Make Music Day 2019

Make Music Day is an annual worldwide celebration of live music making, this year will obviously be a bit different, with practically all of the performances being either recorded and broadcast online or live streamed on one of the many social media platforms.

With Make Music Day fast approaching. We thought we would try and highlight some of the ways you could get involved.

There are three main different strands to how you can be involved on the day or in the lead up to Make Music Day on 21 June: Perform, Create, Watch.

The starting point to any of the mentioned strands – Perform, Create, Watch – should be a visit to the Make Music Day website: Once there, depending on how you wish to be involved in the day, there are many guides and pointers on what to do.

If you are a music fan and wish to pack your Sunday 21 June with live streamed performances, Make Music Day’s website has an interactive event map, with a list of all the performances available on the day and links to join them.

If, for the past few months you have been locked down and are looking for new ways to entertain yourself and the folks you may be locked down with, apart from watching, you could take part by joining the virtual choir in a performance of Auld Lang Syne. You can also find instructions for how to make your own various musical instruments courtesy of Bang The Trash!

If you had hoped to perform, either at the library or somewhere else in Edinburgh on the day, there are many ways to do that and again, the Make Music Day website has many useful hints how to achieve that. For those of you like me, not particularly adept with technology, there are many ways to put your performance out there. All the social media platforms have a live element and although that might be something quite daunting it is not to be feared – pressing the LIVE button does not take you LIVE immediately, they all ask a second or even third question to confirm you are ready to go.

The decision on which platform to use, depends on who you wish to reach. Certain platforms may have a different demographic mostly based on age and how people consume their media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have pros and cons and all are fairly simple to use.

If you are in a band or group and wish to practise social distancing, there is a program called Streamyards which allows users to appear on the same screen at the same time  but not in the same room.

Once you have a lot of all this set up you could also look at Make Music Day’s official  Facebook Frames and Twibbons to frame your performance. Don’t forget to include the Make Music Day hashtag (#MakeMusicDayUK) and tag Central Library (@edcentrallib) and Make Music Day (@MakeMusicDayUK) so that we can help promote your event in advance.

If you or your group already have a Facebook page and followers there then that might be the best place for your performance. Facebook allows you to schedule a recorded performance or put on a live performance. The same can be said about Twitter and Instagram. You may wish to think about using either YouTube or one of the meeting platforms like Zoom or Jitsi. YouTube has a ‘Creator Academy’ training area which is a great resource. Zoom might serve your purposes but bear in mind that there is a 40 minute time limit on the free version which may limit what you want to do.

Now that you have sorted how to stream your event and on what platform you are going to appear, you should put some thought to the performance. It goes without saying but I’m going to say it now anyway – be prepared, rehearse well and as often as you can. Think about where you are going to perform and how it is going to sound.

Some top tips for making a video:

  • Use a tripod
  • Frame the subject
  • Consider your lighting.

If you don’t have a tripod, something like a music stand might do. Some phone cases or tablet cases turn into stands, which could also be useful. Don’t stand or sit in front of a window as you might end up backlit.

Tips for ensuring good sound quality:

  • Using a phone, tablet or laptop is quick and easy, but the sound can be variable depending on the surroundings and how many players, singers you have round the device. The microphones on devices tend to be Omni directional, recording everything in a radius around the device. The sound loudest or closest to the device may overpower everything else. A separate directional microphone many be preferred.
  • USB microphones can be fairly inexpensive
  • Use a quiet space
  • If you are unable to get hold of a microphone before the day, a pair of headphones or a small speaker can be used as a microphone but check this first as the quality may be no better than your phone or tablet’s microphone
  • Check how it sounds a few times before the real event. Try a few test recordings.

Tips for promotion of your event:

  • List your event at the Make Music Day website
  • List your event wherever they are still providing local events listings
  • Advertise and schedule posts across your social media channels
  • Tell as many people as you can – word of mouth is still a big part of promotion
  • Design a flyer or poster to put up wherever you can. is a great free website for with loads of useful templates for creating eye-catching posters and flyers.

If the music you are planning to perform is not your own you will have to check out the copyright and/or whether you are covered by Performing Right Society (PRS).  One or two of the social media platforms have blanket PRS licence but check all this out before you start.

You could Make Music for Macmillan. Edinburgh Libraries are hosts to Macmilllan Cancer Support with information and support hubs in four of our libraries. If you register your event with Macmillan, you can then ask any attendees to think about making a donation. All events for Make Music Day should be free as that is one of the mainstays of the day, but it is quite within the spirit of the day to suggest a charity to donate the equivalent of a ticket price to.

Make Music Day session in Central Lending Library, 2019


New classical music streaming service available

Libraries are hoping to introduce for members later in the year, however from  now until early June is your chance to try out the service and let us know what you think?

Photograph of Gustavo Dudamel

Gustavo Dudamel, © Silvia Lelli is the world’s largest collection of classical music, opera and dance videos. It gives free online access to 3500 musical works filmed from the 1940s onwards plus over 2500 videos of concerts, operas, ballets, documentaries and master classes.
It’s easy to access all you need is your library membership number.

Don’t forget you can also listen to the best orchestras and classical performers on Naxos Music Library (NML) the world´s largest online classical music streaming library. With your library membership you can access 1000s of CDs with over a million tracks. Latest releases are added every week. Stream tracks via the website and app or download tracks and playlists via the app to listen offline for up to 30 days.

What libraries mean to me with Douglas Wright

In our latest Q & A session we talk to Douglas Wright, library adviser in the Music and Art and Design team at Central Library.

Douglas Wright from the Music and Art and Design team.

What do libraries (including Edinburgh City Libraries) mean to you as a music lover, musician and reader?
It is a bit of a cliche to say that a library gives you a world of choice or enables you to chose from the world, but it does. You can choose to be with old friends or make new ones. The old friends are the novels and classics that we all return to, to read or listen to, time and again or the new friends like the Sean O’Boyle’s Concerto for Digeridoo found on Naxos.

We use Naxos streaming service at work and I also use it at home. What I have noticed that I have in common with my colleagues in the Music Department is, when we switch on Naxos I the morning we go to the ‘Recently Added’ page and just choose anything from there. Often they are great treats like the Digeradoo Concerto but sometimes we are forced to think again. Like a Beatles /Bach Mash up which didn’t make it to my playlist.

As a music lover I have been part of a team who have been able to promote live music making in the library. We have also had many author talks by musicians or on musical topics, all of which have been a thrill to be part of. The team’s involvement in Make Music Day 2019 was a highlight, I think, for us all. Make Music Day 2019 was also the first time I had played my Ukulele in public and the first time in a long time I had done anything as a musician.

It was nice to dip my toe.

The biggest thing the library has done for me is introduce me to ebooks and I am a huge convert. For the past five years my wife and I have kept a list of our reading for the year. I have always tried to source all my books from my library but I look first to see if we have a copy of the book I wish to read on Overdrive, our ebook service, so I can have it on my phone and effectively have it with me all the time. I have just made myself aware that I have my music, my ebooks and my audiobooks on my phone so I carry the library or a library with me all the time, I think I need to question my own reliance on my phone, but that’s for another day.

What is your earliest library memory?
I was born and lived in Park Road, Kelvinbridge in Glasgow till I was eighteen. Kelvinbridge which is in between St. George’s Cross, Hillhead and Maryhill. On Saturday mornings, we, my Mum, Dad and brother would walk the short distance to St. George’s Cross in Glasgow where we would shop, pay bills, pay some money to my dad’s tailor account and then go to Woodside Library which was beside Jimmy Logan’s Metropole Theatre. My Mum and Dad would leave us in the children’s section and go and choose their selection for the week. I seem to remember that we had three tickets so we would make our small selection which at that time, for me, were books like Paddington, The Wombles and The Famous Five. From then on, I have a sketchy relationship with libraries.

Drifting in and out of love with them, spending years never going near one and then at other times never being out of them.

My relationship with Central Library really started when I had children and started using the Children’s Library. My children are now 26 and 22 so that was a little while ago. Often, if we were all at the library I would sneak downstairs to the Music Library and then as the children got older, we would all sneak downstairs, to chose our music.

Are you struggling to cope without a library? What advice would you give to those who love the library and can no longer go in?
There are many things I am struggling with and without at the moment. I have to say until asked that question, the Library or a library was not one of them. Now thinking about it, I think it is the thing I have been trying not to think about, I have been for the past few weeks distracting myself with things, tasks and ‘shiny objects’. Trying not to think about that bit of my day that’s missing, my ‘normal’. I have gone down a bit of a road there and to try now and get back to the things, tasks and shiny objects.

I have not been reading as much as I did but I have discovered the joy of audiobooks. I installed the BorrowBox and uLIBRARY apps and have listened to a number of books, which allows me to potter about our flat, as Bing Crosby says, “busy doing nothing working the whole day through, trying to find lots of things not to do”. So the advice would be, always listen to Bing, he will know what to do. I try not to throw advice about, there are people worth listening to, and that’s not me. Seriously, Bing, listen to him.

I am not a great fan of the 21st century, despite my increasing reliance on my phone, and it is not great for me – as a Library adviser who is there to look after and ready our physical collection for our membership to borrow – it is not great for me to say that we have a wonderful set of services online with a lot of those services able to answer to your needs 24 hours a day. We do, and for a lot of people, they have never been more important.

Having said all that, one thing that is said to us, the Music and Art and Design team, most often, is how much people, our membership, enjoy dealing with a person, in the library. That is of no solace at this time and if we are struggling without our library, the only real consolation we can have is that this will end, and hopefully for most of us it will end peacefully and will return to something nearer to a kind of normal.

A lot of people are struggling just now – music has the capacity to soothe by reflecting our emotions but also to challenge – what do you recommend as a music lover to those that are struggling?
One person’s soothing balm is another’s annoyance, So recommending something comes with dangers. My go-to favourites might not be to other people’s liking. I might pick Shostakovich who offers beautiful tunes within edgy, prickly, early 20th century Russian angst, but that is not everybody’s taste. I am also quite stuck with classical music, well, classical music from the romantic era. I once heard John Amis, music critic and broadcaster, talking about music and putting forward the thought that, as one ages music lovers gravitate more to Mozart and leave the youthful romantics in their past. I am about to enter my 59th year and I am still waiting to appreciate Mozart.

The great classical/Romantic composer of my choice would be that lovable cranky, cantankerous, angry, curmudgeon Beethoven. All things I aspire to be – cranky, cantankerous, curmudgeonly and angry – I look forward to all of those traits in my unapologetic dotage.

I have also been pushing myself to other genres, I have tried and enjoyed some of the works of Miles Davis, jazz trumpet legend and I have, strangely, for the past few months, been listening to country music. Recently, I watched a major BBC 4 documentary series on country music and I listened to some of the artists featured in that. That could, of course, be a throwback to my father’s record collection, which included country and western, folk and some dodgy sectarian accordion bands.

On Radio 4, there is a segment of a show called ‘Inheritance Tracks’ in which people describe a piece of music which has been handed down to them and which they hand on to someone they love. I am pleased to say that I have already achieved that with a song by Johnny Cash, the great country and western singer/songwriter, called “A Boy Named SUE” which I got from my father. I played this to my son years ago and he loved it and thought it funny, and it is still on one of his play lists.

Whichever way you inherit your music there are pieces of music which are given to you, which you connect with, somebody or something or an event or a time, place when you were happy, sad, anxious. A song which evokes a memory of a loved one or a beloved thing or in my case I song I sang whilst nappy changing.

Music tinged with emotions which perhaps might be too strong to be dealt with at this time. Can I say the best piece of advice I was ever given was, never listen to advice. Although, that was said about child rearing, but apply it to your music choices. Go to our Naxos website and chose the first CD cover that jumps out at you not because you have heard of the composer or artist but because the CD cover is yellow like the sun or it has your favourite word in the title.

I am reluctant to suggest anything except, try anything, and if you don’t like it, try something else and keep trying till you find the things, book, songs, symphonies, opera which will be your new or old friends.

Are you listening to music just now? What are you listening to? What would you recommend as a way through?
This is now going to be a large cop out, I am listening to music at the moment but I realised I haven’t actually chosen anything. I have been listening to BBC Radio 3 or to Classic FM, so, letting others choose for me and it has been wonderful. I have listened to a programme about building your CD library, one which was focused on the wonderful Symphony of Psalms by Stravinsky, a work I had forgotten I had studied years ago for my Higher Music and I was amazed how much I remembered. I listened to a strange production of an Opera by Cherubini. Lunchtime concerts of string music and operas in the afternoon. At this very moment the Bavarian Radio Chorus are singing Alfred Schnittke’s Three Sacred Hymns, which I would never have chosen but are sublime. Morning request programmes with music from classics to Romantics to American Minimalists.

How can we connect as librarians, borrowers, readers and musicians just now when the library is closed? Can social media be a replacement or do we need more? How can music help to overcome this?
There are parts of this question to which I really don’t know the answer, if there is an answer.

I think, we continue to be a part of the things that are already happening, online groups, concerts, being part of doing things collectively but separately.

Music always unifies in some way and will find a way to be part of the healing we will all go through.

It seems, everything which is happening at the moment requires some kind of social media, it concerns me there are people without access to all that is going on, for whatever reason and their isolation may be even greater. For me, social media is only ever a tool, a little bit of all the things we do. I have been trying and failing, to write something about all the things that social media is and isn’t, all the things it does and the things it doesn’t do. I have ranted and railed, agreed and disagreed. Scrubbed out and started again. All I have come up with is, what it doesn’t do, is let me pick up my granddaughter when she falls over in her back yard, me, like millions of other grandparents in the world, but it does allow us to see her and hear her and sing with her. Until we are all together again, it will have to do.

With many thanks to Douglas for sharing his thoughts on what libraries and music mean to him. 

What libraries mean to me with Helen Martin

In today’s library Q & A session, we ask Music library borrower, Helen Martin what libraries mean to her.

Helen Martin

As librarian and singer with the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, my job is to source music for every concert.  As soon as I am told what music is required, my first stop is the Music Library at Central Library. I’ve been librarian for three years now, and am becoming more knowledgeable as I progress, but the Music Library staff have been such a great help, a source of information, and very patient with the mistakes that I have made along the way.  I have to ensure that the edition is correct, and sometimes there are other considerations – the Music Library helps out every time.  They have also been a great help on the rare occasions when they have been unable to source something for me, in pointing me in the right direction.

Edinburgh Royal Choral Union practising

What do libraries mean to you as a music lover and reader?
I have always been a supporter of libraries, and love the easy access to books and music that the libraries provide.  I also enjoy the atmosphere in libraries, the bustle and hum of people reading, looking at books, etc.  I do a number of activities that require access to song books, and again, the Music Library has been a great help and source of what I require.

What is your earliest library memory?
As a child and a teenager, it was always wonderful to have a constant source of books at my disposal.  I was an avid reader, and without libraries, this would have been impossible to do, without access to libraries.  There wasn’t extra money in our household to buy books.

Are you struggling to cope without a library?
I am missing access to the library, but happily over the years have built up a reasonable collection of books, so I have enough reading material to keep me going.  It is also a good opportunity to reread some of the classics, or indeed catch up with some that have passed me by.  People are being inventive at this challenging time – there is a book exchange going on in a street near me, with books being put out in the garden for people to take.  I haven’t used it, but I’m sure it is a help to people struggling.

A lot of people are struggling just now – music has the capacity to sooth ….
Are you listening to music just now?
Edinburgh Royal Choral Union (ERCU) has set up a ERCU Facebook page where as well as posting messages, people are putting links to various concerts, YouTube videos, etc.  The Royal Scottish National Orchestra have been streaming concerts on their Friday Night Club, on YouTube, and I greatly enjoyed, amongst other things, Saint-Saens Symphony No.3 Organ, featuring our Chorus Director, Michael Bawtree playing the organ.  I also enjoyed their Brahms German Requiem, which we sang a few years ago.

We have been watching the nightly streamed opera from The Met, which has been fantastic.

There are lots of opportunities to watch different performances online at the moment, which definitely help during these difficult times.  I’m greatly missing my choir, but social media, and these different events are a comfort.

How can we connect when the Library is closed? Can social media be a replacement?
I don’t think social media can be a replacement for the wonderful work done by libraries, although it can be a help.  Perhaps, like the ERCU Facebook page, there can be recommendations and links put out by the Music Library of things they think their readers might enjoy.  But we miss you, and look forward to seeing you again, when things finally get back to normal.

Many thanks again for all that you do.

With huge thanks to Helen for talking to us about what libraries mean to her.

Celebrating Fernando Sor, the ‘Beethoven of the guitar’ with Stephen Morrison

Central Library is delighted to welcome back Stephen Morrison, who will perform another excellent programme of classical guitar music in the George Washington Browne Room. This programme is dedicated to the music of Fernando Sor, a 19th  century Spanish guitarist and composer. Sor’s work encompassed various forms, including ballets, waltzes, studies and, perhaps his most famous work, Variations on a Theme of Mozart. Sor was dubbed the ‘Beethoven of the guitar’ by François-Joseph Fétis, a highly influential music critic from the time. The compositions that will feature in this recital will be performed on Stephen’s beautifully restored 19th century guitar.

Stephen was born in Ohio, U.S.A, and has been a resident of Scotland since 1989. After extensive study with the eminent guitar teacher Ray Chester, Stephen taught guitar in various settings in the United States – including the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the Johns Hopkins University and the Levin School of Music in Washington D.C. – before teaching in Fife and now in Edinburgh, where he has lived since 2015. Growing up listening to George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra helped to prompt Stephen’s strong resonance with the music of the 19th century.

Celebrating Fernando Sor: the ‘Beethoven of the guitar’ will take place on Tuesday 24 March, 6.30 – 7.30pm in the George Washington Browne Room at Central Library. To book your free ticket, please contact the Music Library or visit Edinburgh Reads on Eventbrite

Jazz Cafe in the Music Library

Starting on Saturday 29 February and running on the last Saturday of every month is the Jazz Café on the Mezzanine at Central Library. Come along, relax, enjoy a cuppa, and listen to jazz.

The Jazz Cafe takes place between 2 and 3pm and is a free drop-in event – no ticket required. We’re kicking off with the jazz quartet After the Rain who play jazz standards and a mixture of Swing, Latin, Funk, Blues and Ballads.

For more information contact the Music Library and if you’d like to play a set yourself one Saturday, we’d love to hear from you.


Desert Island Discs – Eamonn from the Digital Team

The latest library staff member to be banished to our desert island is Eamonn from the Digital Team.

We hand over to Eamonn to explain his choices –

1 Vol.4., Ethio jazz & Musique Instrumentale 1969-1974

I feel that nothing sounds quite like Ethiopian music. I suppose like many people, I became familiar with the country’s music through the fabled 30 volume CD series called Ethiopiques which focuses on a “golden” period of music in Ethiopia’s cultural history.

The series highlights the time between the mid 1950s and 1974 where a huge wave of outstanding big bands and singers had emerged – sparking off a massive musical explosion, resulting in the production of hundreds of recordings. This was all brought to an end in 1974 during a revolution, which left the country in the hands of a military dictatorship that remained in power until 1991. With rigorous censorship and strict curfews, many musicians were imprisoned, forced to stop playing or escaped into exile.

I love the series – the attention to detail, from programming to design, to notes, to mastering – have defined this body of work which has become virtually the sole representation of an essential musical culture.

Many volumes are worthy of a Desert Island Disc or two but perhaps the best entry point is Vol. 4 – showcasing the man who invented ‘Ethio-jazz’, Mulatu Astatke and devoted to his blend of Abyssinian swing.

2 Life on Earth: Music from the 1979 BBC TV series / composed by Edward Williams

Life on Earth was a landmark television natural history series produced by the BBC and Sir David Attenborough which aired in the UK in January 1979. Surprisingly, for such an influential series, its soundtrack was privately pressed – only 100 copies were ever made and distributed by composer Edward Williams to members of his orchestra. Scarce copies languished in thrift shops for three decades before finally being resurrected (with Sir Dave’s blessing) in 2009.

What surprised me further still was how beautiful the music was – a Desert Island Disc session would not be complete without staring into the sea surrounded by the magical, ambient sounds of science, nature and music for jellyfish.

3 Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble

Phil Cohran was my favourite jazz composer – his ensembles contained one of the most idiosyncratic takes on 60s avant jazz this side of Sun Ra (Cohran was once an early member of Ra’s arcane troupe). He wasn’t just a musician but an inventor of musical instruments – from customised violin-ukes to his most famous creation, his Frankiphone – an amplified thumb piano which rattled spookily around his ragged rhythm tracks. I’d hope with time that I would develop the patience and ingenuity to fashion my own desert island instrument – or at the very least I could always find a shell that made an interesting noise when blown into!

Book: Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec

I think this book would keep me occupied on the island – Perec’s output is extremely varied in form and style: sometimes bewilderingly so. From crossword puzzles and poetry to palindromes, autobiography and straight narrative – he did the lot and made a rule to never write the same thing twice. In his novel Void, he systematically avoids the letter ‘e’, for an entire novel! He did balance things out though – writing a short story after Void where the only vowel used was ‘e’ (easy peasy lemon squeezy… ok, so it’s harder than it sounds!).

Life maps the interconnecting lives of the residents of a fictitious apartment block in Paris with an unfolding structure that follows the logic of chess moves.

It was written according to a complicated writing plan (thankfully with ‘e’s included this time) and its 99 chapters can be read in any order. Guided by a 70-page index, a chronology, a checklist of 100 or more main stories, an apartment block elevation plan as a 10×10 grid of the building in which the action takes place and a profound interest in jigsaws. This book is the literary equivalent of a sudoku puzzle – one that you will keep returning to and worthy of being stranded with.

Luxury item: Tin of Vaseline (Aloe Vera) – no sense in having chapped lips in the sun!

100 years of the Edinburgh Competition Festival

A new exhibition opens in Central Library this week celebrating 100 years of the Edinburgh Competition Festival. 

Initially called the Edinburgh (Musical) Competition Festival, the first festival was held in May 1920 and, apart from 1931, has been held annually ever since.

The exhibition displays archives from the Edinburgh Competition Festival’s 100 year history including printed music, programmes, minutes, adjudication sheets, sketches of the redesigned logo and profiles of some of the now internationally acclaimed winners. On special loan from Edinburgh Museums and Galleries are some of the trophies including the Duchess of Atholl’s Shield presented by the Duchess of Atholl (1874-1960) for Open Competition to Junior Choirs and the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union Challenge Trophy for Continuation Class Choirs.

The early festivals featured mainly choral music but, during the 1920s, classes for folk dancing, including Scottish country dancing, elocution, solo singing, piano and string instruments were added.

Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, Granville Bantock and John Masefield were amongst the internationally renowned musicians, actors and poets who have adjudicated during the Festival.

The Festival now has over 100 classes and, in 2020, over 900 entrants. The Festival concludes with the Highlights Concert held this year on Sunday 15 March in the Queen’s Hall featuring exceptional performers from a range of classes, ages and instruments. This concert also provides an opportunity for the four concerto finalists to perform, accompanied by the Friends of the Festival Orchestra.

The exhibitions runs from 29 January to 25 February 2020 in the Mezzanine cabinets next to the Music Library. The Edinburgh Competition Festival of Music runs 3 to 15 March 2020.

Much of the Edinburgh Competition Festival’s archive has been kindly donated to the Music Library where items from the archive can be viewed on request.

Desert Island Discs – Eleonora from Central Lending Library

Eleonora has been with the library for a few years now, working in the busy Lending department. She is also part of the imaginative team who run our Childrens’ Art Club. The thriving art club runs every second Wednesday and program a wide and varied selection of arts activities for their members.

We unfortunately had a to and fro of emails, as we were unable to provide Eleonora’s original choice of Music, so today we have no Metallica, listened to so much the cassettes were destroyed or, Faith No More which reminded Eleonora of studying for her art degree in Bologna.

Desert Island Discs

John Grant  –  Pale Green Ghosts
Eleonora says:

“amazing album I used listened all the time when I moved in Scotland, is perfect for any kind of mood”

Eleonora would like “anything by Ella Fitzgerald” so we suggest Ella Fitzgerald   –  At The Opera House 

and she also asked for anything by Creedance Clearwater Revival, so we offer The Best of Creedence Clearwater Revival

Book(s): The Name of the Rose and American Psycho …as we had a bit of difficulty fulfilling Eleonora’s music choices we have allowed both of her requests…

Eleonora said,

“I would like if I can chose two books, they are very important for me”

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco I just love the book and the movie as well, I got this book in my father’s “personal library” at home, when I started to read, I did not stop for hours. It reminds me my father and my house in south Italy.


American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – it was one of the books for my art degree. This book just drove me nuts, if I can say so. Brilliant book.


Luxury item: One of my father pipes, because sometimes I like to sit and smoke next to the window, look outside and get lost in my thoughts. 

Desert Island Discs – Iain from Edinburgh and Scottish and Reference collections

Iain Duffus is our newest member of staff joining us recently to head up the Reference Libary and Edinburgh and Scottish Collection. Starting a new job can be exhilarating, daunting, exhausting and more, there are many pressures on Iain’s time, but he found a spare moment to give us his Desert Island choices.

Music For Eighteen Musicians by Steve Reich 
The first disc I will take to the island is by Steve Reich. Reich’s works were a real gateway for me into the realisation that orchestral music has a modern and interesting direction. I have chosen Music for Eighteen Musicians as it has so many strands and seems infinite in its detail. Even after repeated listens of this record, each time reveals something different. It is hypnotising, welcoming and at the same time intriguing and bursting with energy. Perfect for losing yourself in and (trying) to forget about space and time.

Brief History: The best of the Penguin Café Orchestra
This music reminds me of doing two things; one is studying late at night trying to cram as much as possible in before a test. I thought the calming music would help, but it often turned out to just be a distraction because it is so beautiful. The other is cooking breakfast on a Sunday morning. Penguin Café was often the soundtrack, the Penguins were consistently good – my recipe attempts were not! This is the best of CD but I would happily just take their first album Music From The Penguin Café also.

Selected Ambient Works Vol II by Aphex Twin
I actually wanted to choose the first volume ‘Selected Ambient Works 85-92’ as that has many of my favourite tracks on there. However, it’s probably just as well I couldn’t find it because I did it to death when I was a teenager. So Volume II is coming to the island with me instead. Aphex’s early material has really stood the test of time. It still feels unique, strange and other worldly whilst not forgetting the conventions of pop and dance music that his later material did.

My luxury item would have to be suntan lotion or a pair of reading glasses.


Desert Island Discs – Jen from the Art and Design Library

The latest library castaway is Jen from the Art and Design Library. As usual, she was asked to choose three songs, one book and a luxury to see her through her isolation on her desert island.

“Only three! I’m terrible with decisions, a chewer and a worrier, so I’m hoping there will be plenty of tropical storms I can listen to under my tent, and tropical birds flitting colourfully about with other-worldly songs on their beak-tips – because I know I’m going to want to change my mind…

But my three songs –
Although I’m a child of the 80s, I’m also late to (and for) most things, sadly, but when I came to Edinburgh to study I was finally introduced to the film Labyrinth – and being a lover of puppets and children’s fantasy, I’d like to choose David Bowie’s Magic Dance. I’ve picked it at parties and tried to dance to it with special people – I still struggle, but it seems to have found its place somehow.

I was thinking too, that I’d like to pick something big and ballady to wallow in. I am a wallower. I also try and do a lot of drawing and painting, and often find myself playing beautiful voices again and again (and if no-one else is listening too, again), so in the last few years a lot of Feist, Cat Power, Ane Brun – but for strength and depth, and sheer deliberate determination to fight and live, I think I’d like some Nina Simone. She might help, stuck out there in the middle of the sea. I’d like something to remind me to pull myself together, but something very wallowy too, so her version of Little Girl Blue.

And a third? Although I’ve long stopped playing, and was always more a bundle of nerves and enthusiastic emotion than in any way tuneful, I did for a large part of my childhood play the violin and cello. I thought about some Bartók – or biggies that have always stuck, Bach’s Double Violin Concerto maybe. Then there are the pieces my young self was immediately drawn to, anything with animals and a lot of visuals in them (not that anything much has changed there) – Carnival of the Animals perhaps and my attempts to glide like a swan… but actually overall, I think I’d like to have Bach’s cello suites.

And then I feel I should mention what I’ve missed in these three choices – apart from everything else, of course… There’s not much of my teenage self and grungy-ness, there’s little wit (something I lack but like to listen to!) and big noise, and it would be nice to have something to dance to hour after hour if I could pull myself out of my bluesiness; some whimsy too, something ghoulish and cartoony (some Cab Calloway serenading Betty Boop?) – and something nostalgic just to remind me that everything really is ok (Django Reinhardt, The Ink Spots? I used to work in a bar where The Ink Spots were really the only thing that was ever played…)

My book
The Moomin books?
All of them? – the first editions with Tove Jansson’s amazing illustrations. I’d be set then for island adventuring. And because I can’t decide, perhaps an anthology of Emily Dickinson too, for a glimpse at the deepest and the best of everything.

For my luxury
I was wondering if we were allowed other creatures… pets? I never used to think I was so soft on dogs, I always imagined myself a bit too aloof, but my partner’s mum has a guide dog (she’s very tiny, and he’s very big and fluffy and aptly called Dave). I’d love to have him with me, but I’d also worry about him getting too hot in all that fur, and Fiona without him bumping into things.

So perhaps instead I’d choose a lot of pencils (a magic never-ending pencil) and a never-ending sketchbook, with the hope that I could idle away a lot of hours and try and enchant myself – and forget about missing absolutely everybody.”

Read other articles in this Desert Island Disc series:
Douglas from the Music Library


Desert Island Discs – Douglas from the Music Library

For a little while now, visitors to the Music Library have been able to enjoy the Desert Island Disc recommendations of invited library castaways. We thought we’d share some of these fantastic personal listening and reading suggestions with you here on the blog. First up, is Douglas Wright, Library Adviser in the Music Department at Central Library who has been in the Library since 2011.

Douglas, Music Library team

Before the Library, Douglas was a teacher, a musician and a box office manager. Before all that, Douglas’s burgeoning career with the Moscow State Ballet was cruelly cut short by a freak electrical accident which, contractually, we aren’t allowed to discuss further.  Douglas lives in Edinburgh with his wife Svetlana, his 6 children, 2 dogs and three cats, one of which is not a cat.

Douglas satisfies his love of the dance by taking up small walk-on extra roles with Scottish Ballet, and cries himself to sleep at night with dreams of what might have been.*

Desert Island Discs

1 John Tavener – The Protecting Veil, this is one of the great Cello works of any century, along side the concerts of Dvorak and Elgar this work demonstrates all of the emotional power of the Cello, and is always on my list of Desert Island Discs.

2 Shostakovich Symphony No 5 , is described by Shostakovich as “a soviet artists reply to just critism”. Stalin had not liked his 4th Symphony and despite his place as an established Soviet artist, Shostakovich realised that he would have to work hard to retain his standing and perhaps his life. For that reason, this is perhaps a more approachable Symphony than his other 14.
I first came across this symphony as a fledging 14 year old horn player playing it in an arrangement for wind band. I had been playing for about a year and my trumpet playing big brother dragged me to various groups, bands and Orchestras, where I got a lot of playing experiences that perhaps a player with my, lack of experience, may not have had.

3 Regina Spektor – Samson, this song from the album ‘Begin to hope’.
I heard this song many years ago and immediately it reminded me of a discussion with a friend which could have been the “story” of this song. I heard someone on the radio describing Samson as a song you only ever chose to listen to – it should never be on shuffle, it should be a choice, I couldn’t agree more.

Book: Diary of a Nobody George and Weedon Grossmith
I can’t remember when I first read this, it is a very enjoyable read. I am not a great fan of “funny books”, invariably they are not that funny. This is a book that always makes me smile and should be reread but not too often to take away your smile.

Luxury item: My Ukulele 
I am absolutely useless at the Ukulele but I would hope that my enforced “holiday” on my desert island would enable me to improve a bit.

*Some, all or none of what you have just read may or may not have some basis in truth, or not.

Library student, Kirsty Morgan, volunteers for the Music Library

Today, we hand the blog over to one of our volunteers, Kirsty Morgan, who tells us how she’s been getting involved in the Music Library:

“For the past six months, I’ve been enjoying volunteering in Central Library’s Music Library. It started as an 11-week student placement, arranged through the Information and Library Studies Masters that I’m currently studying for at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. I want to make my career in music librarianship, so I’ve continued volunteering after the placement finished.

I’m involved in a project to rearrange how the books are ordered on the shelves. Library staff call this work classification. The aim of the project is to bring the Music Library’s collection of printed sheet music and books in correct line with the Library of Congress classification system which is used for arranging adult non-fiction in Edinburgh Libraries.

Kirsty volunteering in the Music Library

Over time the Music Library staff have created their own version of the classification system, but this has meant that they can’t use records created by other libraries and it’s been less easy for our borrowers to find what they need. In 2014, the Music Library started the project of rearranging the sheet music and sticking to the proper version of Library of Congress. What difference does this make to finding items? A big change is that books are no longer arranged by composer, instead grouped by type of music, format, and instrument and then within that composer. Another change is that books about learning to play instruments are separate from collections of music.

Although I was nervous to begin with, having had very little experience working with Library of Congress, my team leader has guided me, provides ongoing support and checks my work. The staff are very friendly and I’m really enjoying the project. Deciphering where a book belongs is like a detective puzzle. I was interested in the implications of using an American classification system in a Scottish library. Library of Congress uses extra numbers for the main instruments but fewer for the more obscure ones – and in an American library, bagpipes are an obscure instrument…

So far, I’ve classified just over 900 books, which is a small dent in the 100,000 resources that the Music Library carries – although that number includes all the recorded music, too. I’ve found the Music Library placement really rewarding, and I think it will help me towards my goal of working as a music librarian. I’m excited to continue the reclassification project with the library for as long as they let me stay. I’m learning a lot each day, I’m happy I can continue to help with the project and I’m gaining even more music library experience!”

Make Music Day 2019

Play it again, Tam

Rolling Hills Chorus

21 June is Make Music Day, a global celebration of music making. Make Music is a free celebration, launched in 1982 in France as the Fête de la Musique and is now held on the same day in more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries.

Completely different from a typical music festival, Make Music is open to anyone who wants to take part. Every kind of musician — young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical persuasion. All of it is free and open to the public, and one of the main themes this year was music in Libraries.

Ceilidh Caleerie

Last Friday, Central Library came alive to the sound of music! Through word of mouth, contacts and some publicity we quickly put together the main part of a programme. We also invited our colleagues in the community libraries to take part and this call was answered by Stockbridge, Craigmillar and Morningside who put together programmes of local music makers.

At Central Library, we had a programme of, on the day, ten groups or individuals, some graduates of classes at the Scots Music Group, some library users and some who had heard of our involvement through the Make Music Day website.

Nigel’s Allstars

Magnus Turpie accompanied by Linda Cambell and Mike Turpie

On the Mezzanine, we were host to three choirs, two Ceilidh bands and a Button Accordionist. The three choirs were the Rolling Hills Chorus, The Gilmerton Singers and Sangstream. Our library visitors also enjoyed sets from the bands Nigel’s Allstars and Ceilidh Caleerie and a lovely slot featuring accordionist Magnus Turpie accompanied by Linda Cambell and Mike Turpie.

Louise Guy



In the Lending Library we had recorder player Louise Guy, Klezmerists, Kleyne Klezmer Trio, night class graduates Clarinite and Scots music group, Play it again, Tam.

The Gilmerton Singers






Kleyne Klezmer Trio


After the crowd in the lending Library had been completely entertained by the Kleyne Klezmer Trio, they were then treated to a surprise rendition of ‘Bring Me Sunshine’, the Morecambe and Wise hit and the anthem of Make Music Day. This was performed by a flash mob made up of Library staff from all departments.

Unfortunately due to a technical hitch this performance was not recorded, so you will just have to take our word for it that it was brilliant and very well received.



The Afternoon was brought to a close in Lending by Clarinite and on the Mezzanine Sangstream sung us home.




The reactions to the day have been very pleasing with many kind and useful comments left in our audience survey boxes and online and on our social media pages.

Asked – What have you enjoyed about Make Music Day in Central Library? – we got these responses:

“Lots of musical buzz”
“It has created a great atmosphere – it has been very uplifting”
“Enjoyed the variety and particularly the venues on both levels, interesting to watch staff and public ‘dancing’ ”
“Something different – brought people together – smiling faces”
“The surprise spontaneity of it”.

So finally, the Music Library Team, Natasha, Michalina, Bronwen and Douglas, would like to thank all those who came to watch, who helped us put the event on and a special thank you to all those who came and performed, who Made Music for us, simply because they could.

Natasha, Michalina, Bronwen and Douglas from the Music Library Team.

Make Music Day!

Come to Central Library on Friday 21 June to celebrate the longest day of the year and be part of a global music festival.

Make Music Day is a free celebration of music around the world taking place every year on 21 June featuring musicians of all ages, genres and abilities. It’s the world’s biggest festival of free music events taking place in venues and public spaces both indoor and outdoor.

This year for the first time Central Library will host an exciting and diverse programme of community music events. Kicking off at 11.45am in Central Lending and 12 noon in the Music Library Mezzanine, library visitors will be entertained with a programme of music running throughout the afternoon until 4.30pm.

The Rolling Hills Chorus – Edinburgh’s premier male a capella chorus – open the programme on the Mezzanine at 12 noon. Described as one of the highest quality and most entertaining in Scotland and UK barbershop this act is sure to set the toes tapping.

Other highlights include the Kleyne Klezmer Trio performing in Central Lending at 2.00pm featuring Andrew Gardiner on clarinet, Simon Carlyle on tuba, and Jan Waterfield on accordion: there is sure to be a lot of noise to rowse the readers from their usually peaceful browsing.

We’re not forgetting Scotland’s fantastic musical traditions either with performers from Sangstream closing our programme on the Mezzanine at 3.45pm. Sangstream is a Scots folk choir singing traditional and modern Scots folk songs unaccompanied.

It’s not just Central Library! Other libraries around the city are joining in with the fun with Stockbridge Library starting the day at 11am with The Professors of Logic, who will be performing an acoustic set of original songs in a variety of genres, including Country, Blues, Cajun and Jazz, the songs tend to have a humorous bent. The band features guitar, fiddle, accordion and sax (maybe) and vocals.

Craigmillar has a fun-filled day planned with a Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby Musical Rhyme Time event starting at 10.30am and then two special ‘Craigmillar’s Got Talent’ shows on in both the morning and afternoon featuring pupils from Castleview and Niddrie Mill primary schools (am) and local musicians (pm).

Morningside is also getting in on the music fun with The Southside Scratchband entertaining the public from 11am to 12 noon.

The aim of our programme is to provide opportunities for all to enjoy a range a music and to bring various community musicians together for the day. All performers are providing their services at no charge and there is no fee to the public to attend.

Expect some surprises throughout the day. Draw up a chair. Relax and enjoy.

You can view both Central Library’s full programme  and Stockbridge Library’s full line-up online. Contact the Music Library for more information by phone (0131 242 8050) or email

Win tickets to see Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius performed by the Edinburgh Singers!

The Edinburgh Singers are celebrating their 65th anniversary season this year with a performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, widely regarded as the composer’s choral masterpiece on Saturday 16 June at 7.30pm in Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh.

Conducted by Alistair Digges, the choir will be joined by soloists, Ben Johnson (Tenor), Catherine Backhouse (Mezzo-Soprano) and James Arthur (Baritone), and an orchestra of players specially assembled for the night.

Founded in 1952, The Edinburgh Singers are one of the City’s finest non-professional auditioned mixed-voice choirs and draw people from all walks of life performing a wide range of choral pieces. They recently won the Scotland Sings Chorus Award 2016 in the Inspirational Year category.

In celebration of their 65th anniversary the Music Library is presenting this June a display of Edinburgh Singers archival material including concert programmes and other materials.

The Edinburgh Singers have kindly donated 4 free tickets to see their performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. First prize will be two free tickets and two second prizes are one free ticket.

To enter the competition to win tickets, email the Music Library stating Edinburgh Singers competition in the subject line and the year that the Edinburgh Singers was founded.

Include in the email your name, telephone number and library borrower number. Please indicate in the email if you would like to be joined to the Edinburgh Singers mailing list.

The closing date to enter is Saturday 9 June.

Do you belong to a local choir or orchestra? The Music Library loans vocal and orchestral sets to local groups for a small charge. Get in touch with the Music Library for more information on our music hire service.

Singing for Spring workshops!

The Music Library is teaming up with community singer facilitator Ellie Logan to deliver two singing workshops for all ages and levels of experience – no sight reading skills required!

Participants will learn songs by ear (words provided) and even experiment with simple harmonies. It will be fun and informal.

There are two sessions running Saturdays 21 and 28 April. You’re welcome to attend either or both sessions as there’ll be different songs at each session.

Ellie Logan is a member of the Natural Voice Network and is an experienced facilitator of community singing.

Previous participants at workshops said:

“Enjoyed Ellie’s encouraging and lively style of teaching, the songs she taught, and singing with a group of like-minded people who enjoy this activity.”

“Came away feeling very happy, will definitely go to any future ones planned if I can”.

Book online via Eventbrite:
Singing for Spring session one – Saturday 21 April, 2 to 3.30pm

Singing for Spring session two – Saturday 28 April, 2 to 3.30pm

If you enjoy community singing, why not join a local choir? There are many which don’t require auditions and are open to all. If you want to advertise or join a choir look on Your Edinburgh, our community information directory.

The Music Library holds a wealth of material available to borrow on singing from sheet music, voice coaching and sight reading to recordings of your favourite singers. We can help you search for songs and provide multiple vocal scores for local groups. Contact or phone 0131 242 8050 for more information.

Practice the piano at the Music Library!

Did you know that the Music Library has a digital piano and a digital keyboard which are both available for anyone to use to practice their keyboard skills?

So, whether it’s Chopin or Chopsticks, all levels of players are welcome to drop-in to the Music Library and ‘borrow’ the piano or the keyboard for sessions of up to 2 hours.

The keyboard has five octaves opposed to the piano’s eight, but it also has a range of voices, sounds and drum machine beats to explore.

Book a slot on the digital keyboard or digital piano via the Music Library in person, by phone (0131 242 8050) or email

Calling concert programmes!

The Music Library has an enviable collection of programmes and ephemera from music festivals, competitions and concerts, providing a snapshot of Edinburgh’s rich concert going and music making, from the early 1800s to the very recent past. Many of our concert programmes are available to view on Capital Collections.

Sir Harry Lauder headlines the Grand Scottish Concert on 23 February 1940.

We collect programmes, handbills and flyers to record as much of Edinburgh’s rich musical life as we can. We are unable to collect our programmes digitally, so we ask you, each time your group performs during the year, to deposit a programme and some handbills with the Music Library for our collection.

Concert programmes can provide a rich source of historical information on musical taste and the wealth of musical participation by both professional and amateur groups. Contribute to our archive and 50 years from now your programmes could be a valuable resource for researchers!

A 2001 programme for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

If you are involved in more than one choir or orchestra, please pass on the word that we wish to find a home for their programmes, and, because we have gaps in our collection, we would love to be offered back copies of your groups’ programmes. Or, if you have a growing archive, which is perhaps growing too large for your premises, we would happily consider housing it within our collection.

For more information on donating material, email, phone 0131 242 8050 or drop into the Music Library.