International Bibliography of Discographies:
A Worldwide Collaborative Project

Bibliography: the literature of a subject
Discography: a systematic catalogue of published sound recordings focused on a given performer, composer, record label, musical genre or country


Efforts to compile bibliographies which focus specifically on published discographies can be traced back to an article by Carl Bruun and John Gray from the Journal of the British Institute of Recorded Sound in 1962. During the next 20 years several other significant print bibliographies appeared, culminating in the publication of the Bibliography of Discographies series from 1977-1983 (vol. 1: Classical Music, 1925-1975 by Michael Gray and Gerald D. Gibson; vol. 2: Jazz by Daniel Allen; and vol. 3: Popular Music by Michael Gray). Michael Gray later provided an update of classical music discographies for the years 1976-1988, and Tim Brooks has included new discographies in the “Current Bibliography” section of the ARSC Journal for many years.

At the 2015 meeting of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives in Paris, the newly re-formed IASA Discography Committee first discussed the idea of continuing this work and creating an online International Bibliography of Discographies (IBD).

Our Project:

Collaboration is key in building the Bibliography, and from the beginning we have sought to create a network of partners who share our goals for such a resource. These include representatives from peer associations, memory institutions, and individual collectors and discographers. Institutions and private collectors are both passionate about their collections, and we saw connecting these two groups as one of the essential first steps. In doing so we could gather the expertise of a range of individuals who have studied and worked closely with the recorded output of specific labels, genres, artists, regions or countries.

For the first year and a half we focused on reaching out to colleagues and making new connections at conferences. The idea of an online, universal discography came up often in our discussions, but we argued for starting with a bibliography first. We hoped the IBD would represent the first truly international survey of discographic work done to date, and we saw it as a necessary precursor to any kind of aggregated discography of sound recordings. A work like this will never truly be complete, but our goal is to collect information about all current and out-of-print discographies published worldwide in print and electronic formats, including unpublished work in progress.

Another goal of the project has been to create a related, stored archive of full digital (pdf) versions of discographies, including those which have thus far only been available in print. That archive exists as a sub-collection at the Internet Archive known as the Digital Discography Collection. Entries in the Bibliography will include links to full digital versions in this collection, when the are available.

In 2017 we published the first iteration of the IBD on the IASA website. It was compiled by Peter Laurence, Filip Sir, and a team of two students on behalf of the IASA Discography Committee. Since then many contributions have been made by individual collectors and discographers, as well as colleagues from peer associations and memory institutions. Work was supported by International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives, Harvard University and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic (DKRVO 2018/47, National Museum, 00023272).