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The Performing Arts in Colonial American Newspapers, 1690–1783
Text Database and Index
compiled by Mary Jane Corry, Kate Van Winkle Keller, and Robert M. Keller
New York: University Music Editions, 1997
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Windows XP and earlier compatible (not Vista or Windows 7, however). This database is also available On-Line at the Colonial Music Institute, plus an on-line User's Guide.
54,411 full-text citations, (99 MB)
235,676 index records, words (50 MB)
50,719 bibliographic records (40 MB)
12,061 lyrics (5 MB)
37 unique woodcuts
The variety and scope of information is astonishing. Pieces about stolen costumes, lost flutes, African-American fiddle-makers, Native-American dancers, and stories about local actors have been carefully copied into the computer data base. Advertisements have been collected for theatrical performances, lost choreographies, and violin parts; for piano makers, puppet shows, and all kinds of stock including music paper, reed cases, Welsh harps, scores, plays, and ballads. Woodcuts depicting instruments have been scanned into the database for on-screen viewing.
From Moscow to Tahiti
Reports came from everywhere: from Canada to Peru; from the Mississippi to the Volga; from Moscow to Tahiti. Descriptions of foreign music-making, stage shows, and dancing were eagerly read by colonial Americans. Their hunger for news of the latest plays, ceremonials surrounding important announcements and celebrations, and gossip about the dances and music at foreign courts and concert halls was matched by their interest in enjoying the same arts and latest compositions themselves.
Musicians for Hire
The data shows that musicians were available for hire in nearly every town, ready to play for official ceremonies, student theatricals, funerals, militia exercises, and church services. Carillons rang tunes and changes for all to hear. Singing and dancing were enjoyed by all levels of society. Churches rang with hymns, psalms, and anthems sung by congregations and choirs, many with organ or instrumental accompaniment.