National Heritage Week 2022. Physical to Digital: A Complete Scanning Solution for ITMA

ITMA was delighted to hear in April 2022 that it had been awarded a Community Heritage Grant from the Heritage Council for its project “Physical to Digital: A Complete Scanning Solution for the Irish Traditional Music Archive.” This funding has enabled ITMA to purchase a state-of-the-art specialised large format archival scanning system.

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ITMA's new I2S Copibook A2 Book Scanner

The scanner which was manufactured by I2S a French company who specialise in image capture and processing is A2 in size. This machine enables ITMA to scan a range of large-format materials which we have been unable to do in-house in the past. Materials like large-sized sheet music, posters, LP covers, a wide range of manuscripts, printed books, periodicals and images. This specialised equipment will future-proof the safe in-house digitisation of all this material for many years to come.

This Heritage Week watch the behind-the-scenes video below which documents the installation of this new state-of-the-art scanning system.

Also during Heritage Week 2022 ITMA features a selection of large-format material including sheet music, vinyl LP covers and posters digitised and curated to highlight the impact of this essential equipment purchase.

Items from the ITMA Sheet Music Collection Digitised for Heritage Week 2022

A selection of ITMA Sheet music

The Irish Traditional Music Archive has over 3,800 items of sheet music in its collection.

"Irish popular song and music of many kinds (including national music and traditional music) has been published in sheet-music form in Ireland since the 18th century.
Mainly publication has been in English, but since the early 20th century also in Irish. The lines between Irish popular and traditional song and music are hard to define, and the genres have significant resemblances. Often sheet-music material that is created by known poets and composers for commercial, literary, or other cultural purposes, enters oral tradition and comes to be considered as of anonymous origin.

The Irish Traditional Music Archive accordingly collects Irish popular sheet music as representing a dimension of Irish traditional music. It presents here a selection of these sheets." (Nicholas Carolan, 1 October 2008)

The selection digitised for Heritage Week 2022 here dates from the early 1800s right up to the 1930s. Included are songs in Irish and English as well as some instrumental pieces, with items published in Ireland, England and the United States of America. The selection gives a very good overview of the many different genres of sheet music which are in the collection including parlour songs, nationalist tunes, stage Irish songs, and Irish language songs published in the early 20th century.

A selection of ITMA Sheet music

Items from the ITMA LP Collection Digitised for Heritage Week 2022

The Irish Traditional Music Archive has over 4,100 LPs in its collection.

The 1950s was the first full decade in which the new long-playing vinyl discs (LPs) were on sale. Being easily scratched or warped, the discs were sold in stiff cardboard sleeves, unlike their predecessors, the 78 rpm discs, which normally came in printed paper bags (and sometimes in cardboard ‘albums’ like photograph albums). The cardboard sleeves gave record companies the opportunity to use graphic design to set up favourable associations for the music on the records and thus attract customers. The typical disc was 12 inches in diameter (some were 10) and the sleeves provided a large image surface for artists and photographers. (Nicholas Carolan, 1 October 2011
Selection of LPs from the ITMA Collection

The LPs presented here are all from a collection recently donated to ITMA by the Mac Ionnraic Family. They mostly date from the 1970s and 1980s with one published in 1968 by Gael Linn – Trup, trup, a chapaillín. The collection includes recordings of Irish and English language songs as well as instrumental music. Many of the artists and groups popular at the time are represented in this collection including Clannad, De Dannan, The Black Family, Moving Hearts, etc.

The selection presented here is only the tip of the iceberg, with this new large-format scanner ITMA hopes in time to scan every LP cover in its collection!

Items from the ITMA Poster Collection Digitised for Heritage Week 2022.

The Irish Traditional Music Archive has 1000s of posters in its collection.

The humble poster still catches the attention in spite of the increasing use of electronic advertising media in Irish traditional music, and it brings to public notice festivals, summer and winter schools, concerts, recitals, dances and classes, and a whole variety of publications. The effect of posters has been noticeably enhanced in modern times by increasing local expertise in graphic design and computerised printing, and they are likely to continue to decorate shop windows and pub walls far into the future.
The poster has a secondary, archival value: it serves as a record of events and the places in which they take place, the performers who appear at them, the groups in which they appear, the instruments they play, and a range of other information, from prices to other advertising techniques. Often the poster remains as the only record of a musical event and the people who participated in it. For these reasons, the Irish Traditional Music Archive has always actively collected posters (along with flyers, programmes, and other advertising material). (Nicholas Carolan, 1 April 2010
Selection of ITMA Posters

Presented here are a selection of Irish music posters from three different sources in the ITMA collection. The first is a collection of posters donated to ITMA recently by Paddy Glackin. The posters mainly focus on Dublin based events in the 1970s and 1980s in venues such as Trinity College and Liberty Hall. The second selection of posters is from the Tomás Ó Canainn collection which was donated to ITMA by his family in 2020. These posters date from the 1970s and feature the Cork group Na Filí which Tomás founded in the late 1960s with fiddler Matt Cranitch and whistle player Tom Barry. Finally a selection of poster from ITMA's collection is also featured below.

Other ITMA poster galleries are available here and here.

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