US RISM Music Incipt Searching Available Online

On 7 November 2008, the AMS/MLA Joint RISM Committee voted unanimously to allow the Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities at Stanford University to use the data belonging to the US RISM Project at Harvard University for the purpose of developing and making freely accessible a website at which the US RISM data would be searchable with Themefinder, a web-based interface capable of searching music incipits that has been developed at the CCARH since 1996 under the direction of Professor Eleanor Selfridge-Field.RISM websites in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Italy currently permit searches on their respective music data.

More information about these RISM sites can be found on my Delicious feed: The AMS/MLA Joint RISM Committee members are pleased that this is now possible with the US RISM data in the United States, some 55,491 listings.At the website,, the US data can be searched by any of several dozen text fields, and the musical search boxes allow for fuzzy searching of music incipits. Fuzzy searching is useful for finding concordances in which key, details of meter or rhythm, and placement of rests may prevent identification in literal searches. Five levels of detail are supported.

Visual of search engine for US RISM catalogue
US RISM Theme Finder

For further information about the collaboration and website, or for suggestions or comments regarding the website, please contact Sarah Adams, Director, US RISM Project, Harvard University, at, and Eleanor Selfridge-Field, Director, Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities (CCARH), Stanford University,


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