The Hymn Tune Index. (Digital Media Reviews)

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Date: Mar. 2003
From: Notes(Vol. 59, Issue 3)
Publisher: Music Library Association, Inc.
Document Type: Audiovisual review; Sound recording review
Length: 1,932 words

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The Hymn Tune Index. By Nicholas Temperley. Charles G. Manns, associate editor. Database and interface design by Joseph Herl and David Zeiders. http://hymntune.music.uiuc.edu. [Requires standard Web browser. Free.]

Hymntune Index and Related Hymn Materials. By D. DeWitt Wasson. Michael Fry, technical advisor. (Studies in Liturgical Musicology, no. 6.) Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2001. [CD-ROM. Requires standard Web browser with full Javascript support. ISBN 0-8108-4144-4. $350.]

The two indexes reviewed here seem destined to be compared to one another. Both are monumental sacred music reference tools, each was published in print in 1998 (Nicholas Temperley, The Hymn Tune Index: A Census Of English-Language Hymn Tunes in Printed Sources from 1535 to 1820 [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998]; D. DeWitt Wasson, Hymntune Index and Related Hymn Materials [Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1998]), their titles are nearly identical, and now both are available in electronic formats. Yet significant differences exist between the two, and they are complimentary rather than competing resources. They differ in the periods covered: their intended audiences diverge; and their scopes vary. Now the formats chosen for their new versions differ, as do their costs. The present review will summarize the purpose, goals, strengths, and weaknesses of the print tools, and then compare and contrast the Web and CD-ROM versions.

If scholars of sacred music and church musicians were happy with the appearance of these two indexes in 1998, they should now be thrilled with the access provided by these new versions. Because both print indexes were compiled from databases, the publication of the data in digital format not only makes electronic access possible, but the end result is easier to use than the paper counterpart. In the case of the Temperley Web site, users are able to search the database directly. While the Wasson electronic book does not allow the reader to search the database, the HTML version is easier to use than the bound volumes. Because of the enormous amounts of data in each, both print tools are complicated and somewhat convoluted. I greatly prefer the electronic versions to their print counterparts.

Both electronic publications are easy to use and have minimal system requirements. They both work well with any platform and with standard Web browsers. The Wasson CD-ROM does not require software to be installed, but does require Javascript support for its "Jump to..."and "Go!" buttons to work properly. The electronic book has been tested for compatibility with HTML 4, but uses "only the older and most common HTML elements" according to Michael Fry's accompanying notes. The home page of the Temperley site includes four search options ("Tune Search," "Text Search," "Source Search," and "Composer Search") as well as search examples and a number of links, including a tutorial and information about the index. After starting the Wasson CD-ROM, a user agreement is displayed that must be accepted before proceeding. The next screen includes the "Table of Contents" and ten search...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A98248511