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Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 1 March 1955



Before I arrive at discussing the fundamentals of music bibliography I think we should take a very close look at the word ‘bibliography’ and make sure that we know what it really means. In countless books and dictionaries I have looked up the definition, and the general consensus of opinion is that it may have two meanings. Firstly, a list of books relating to a given subject or author and, secondly, the careful and accurate description of certain books, either by an author or on a specific subject, with literal transcriptions of the title‐pages, sufficient information for identification between one edition or issue and another, size, gatherings, pages, measurements, and so forth. This is a fact of which I need not remind a company of librarians, but I want to make a clear distinction between the two forms that a bibliography may have. Personally, I do not care for the first meaning at all and can never stretch my imagination so far as to flatter a mere list of books by calling it a bibliography. It is not a bibliography at all, it is a checklist, a simple list of books for guidance to the reader wanting to refer to other books on the same subject or, alternatively, by the same author. In Mr. Arundell Esdaile's A student's manual of bibliography (Allen & Unwin, 1931) all such are called ‘List of Books’, and this, I maintain, is the correct heading. A bibliography is something far larger, more involved, intricate, and detailed. The new Grove uses the word ‘bibliography’ for a list of books about a composer, and a list of works composed by the composer is designated ‘Catalogue of Works’.


HOPKINSON, C. (1955), "THE FUNDAMENTALS OF MUSIC BIBLIOGRAPHY", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 119-129.




Copyright © 1955, MCB UP Limited

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