Krissa Hendricks and Don Cook, School of Music
Great performers often rely on the wisdom of other great performers to inform their musical interpretations. Understanding historical context and expert interpretations can not only make a performance more historically accurate but also more engaging. Because most of the music that performers play originates from deceased composers, performers rely heavily on secondary sources to give extramusical information about the pieces they play.
Dr. Douglas Bush shared his love of music throughout his 35 years as a faculty member in BYU’s School of Music before his death in October 2013. A Bach enthusiast and organist extraordinaire, he took myriad notes about scores, performances and styles throughout his prolific career. Upon his passing,
Dr. Bush left behind a plethora of valuable notes and performance scores that could help students draw from his knowledge even after his death. However, those notes sat in large filing cabinets that were difficult for students to access. As a former student of Dr. Bush and an organ performance major, I understood what value these notes could provide organists if they could use them. This project increased the accessibility of Dr. Bush’s notes by cataloging them so that students, faculty and the public can easily view the information online. Four-hundred pages of Dr. Bush’s musicological notes are now available on the BYU Organ Department website, www.organ.byu.edu. Having this information readily available to musicians empowers them to increase their knowledge and improve the authenticity and quality of their performances.
Completing this project first required locating the electronic copies of a set of Dr. Bush’s notes that graduate student Shawn Mikkelson had previously scanned. Organ faculty member Don Cook had assigned these notes as highest priority for organizing and publishing because they discuss frequently-played pieces and styles. My goal was to sort and classify the notes for easy navigation and publishing. Preparing the electronic files required deleting corrupt files, rotating pages, reorganizing pages within documents for coherence, splicing and joining documents, and categorizing files by composer and era. Dr. Cook and I discussed the best way to organize and publish the files for accessibility. We determined to create an outline-style directory to make the files easily navigable and to publish the notes on the organ department’s website. The directory has hyperlinks to the notes that open to specific pages within files.
After thorough testing, we uploaded the files to the BYU Organ Department website, organ.byu.edu. I also created a “splash page” that introduces the library to users. Find the directory at http://organ.byu.edu/Bush_Library/Directory.htm.
This project successfully resulted in an online database of many of the valuable notes and annotated scores of Dr. Bush. The collection’s simple design makes it easy to expand. Having the resource online means that musicians can freely access the library as well as easily search for key terms to find relevant information. Students enrolled in BYU organ classes now learn about the library resource at the start of their class as organ instructors explain ways to research their music.
Since organ music represents a somewhat obscure category, searching for helpful information about specific composers, pieces, or styles can pose a challenge that often yields sparse results. Although simple in design, this collection of notes and scores expands the resources available to musicians everywhere. It could be improved in the future by making it more aesthetically pleasing and by creating a contents page that has collapsible/expandable viewing options (as opposed to the current page that shows all contents at once). This project contains only the highest-priority notes from Dr. Bush’s files and is formatted for easy addition of other files in the future.
The Douglas Bush Library, as an online resource, preserves and publishes the knowledge of Dr. Douglas Bush. It allows musicians everywhere to glean from his lifetime of musical expertise and studies. Upon his unexpected passing, his myriad notes and annotated scores filled hard-to-access filing cabinets. Now musicians can read notes from his collections from the comfort of their homes and practice rooms. This resource empowers musicians with historical information like Olivier Messiaen’s chart of Mode de Valeurs et D’intensités (mode of durations and intensities) and interpretations of Bach preludes. With more information and perspectives, musicians can perform with greater historical accuracy and with compelling style. The Douglas Bush Library propagates the knowledge of a lifetime for future generations.