Look What They've Done To My Song Data

Which opera contains the aria "Ah, che la morta ognora," and who was the composer? Who wrote the theme song to "The Addams Family" television show, and what other theme song came from his pen? What songs did Charles Ives write and which of these are currently available on CD? Using various Web resources, you can answer these and a suite of additional questions about songs of all genres.

The Web sites for the major U.S. music-licensing agencies (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) feature extensive searchable databases of song titles, songwriters and publishing companies. Anyone interested in using a published song for any purpose (e.g., broadcast, film soundtrack, inclusion on Web site) must obtain prior permission from song owners. You can search these databases to identify a song's authorship, or to display an instantaneous list of an individual songwriter's compositions. The databases of BMI (http://www.bmi.com/repertoire/database.html) and SESAC (http://www.system-x.com/sesac/) are searchable by title, author and publisher; ASCAP's database (http://www.ascap.com/ace/ACE.html) also is searchable by performer.

For locating folk, early blues and other traditional song genres, the Digital Tradition (http://www.mudcat.org/folksearch.html) is a reliable source. Its database of more than 6,000 titles includes lyrics, sources and, in many instances, downloadable sound files of both copyrighted and public-domain songs. You may search by full text of lyrical content (including title words), or from a list of keywords, such as "labor," "bawdy" and "sailor."

The UTK Song Index (http://toltec.lib.utk.edu/~music/music-songlist-home.html), from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, is a database of about 50,000 songs that are published in more than 1,400 song anthologies. These cover art songs; arias from operas and oratorios; show music; popular, rock and jazz songs, and folk songs of many countries and cultures. This index is valuable for identifying composers and text authors, locating the provenance of traditional songs and determining whether a particular song derives from a larger work, such as an opera, stage musical, etc.

Commercial sites can help you to find out whether songs are available for purchase in printed or recorded forms. The Web site for the Pepper Music Network (http://www.jwpepper.com) has a superb catalog of 400,000 items of printed music (including out-of-print titles) with multiple searchable fields. Also, CDNow (http://www.cdnow.com) is one of the largest online compact disc dealers, with a database searchable by song title, album title, composer, artist or genre of music. Many of the items in this database include descriptions of artists or music styles, and sound files for downloading and sampling.

Whether your vocal abilities are destined for the recital hall or the shower stall, you may find that many song resources on the Net are worth shouting about.

For assistance in connecting to the World Wide Web, contact the ASCIT Help Desk at 645-3542.

­Deborah Husted Koshinsky and Rick McRae, University Libraries

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