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Databases

The organ database system was developed between 1995 and 2000 as a part of the 6-year GOArt research project ”Changing Processes in North European Organ Art 1600-1970.” The main goal was to create a database structure in which it is possible to store both technical and historical information on organs. In addition to storing information on organs, it was important to be able to store information on archive documents and persons related to the instruments. The purpose of the database has been to serve as a documentation tool for results from research as well as a tool for analysis and evaluation. The database is also a source of information for future research projects.

During ”Changing Processes in North European Organ Art 1600-1970” the data collected by Einar Erici and updated by Axel Unnerbäck in his 1988 Orgelinventarium, was entered in the database. There are at present more than 200 historical Swedish organs, 870 archive documents and 1900 person records in the database.

In addition, two independent databases have been developed: one for recordings (primarily early organ recordings) and another for the GOArt library. Further development by GOArt made it possible to adapt the organ database to function as the main database used by Uppsala’s Library to organize the Düben Collection of music manuscripts.

The database system can contain:

Technical information on organs like specification, type of construction, pipe measurements etc.

Historical information on organs. Very often when an organ was built, parts of the previous instrument were reused by enlarging and restoring the organ, for instance, or replacing certain stops. Also, organs or parts of organs were sold from one church to another. It is important to store these changes to an instrument in order to document the development of a specific organ.

Archive information consisting of (1) written documents containing letters, contracts, descriptions, documentations, etc. and (2) picture documents containing photos, paintings, drawings, etc. Proposals, contracts, descriptions, letters from various authorities, the parish, the organ builder, the organist or the organ expert are an important background to the decisions made when building, restoring or repairing an organ.

Person information. Information on organ builders, organists, companies etc. that in one way or another has been connected with the organ. This information is important since it helps us to get a picture of the social life and context of the organ art.

The historical dimension in the organ part is implemented by first defining the organ as it existed at specific periods in time. One version of the organ then exists for each historical layer of the instrument, and then these versions are connected to each other in chronological order. It is also possible to connect two different organs in this way, if parts of an organ were sold and reused in another instrument. This makes it possible to trace historical material backwards or forwards along the timeline of the life of the instrument.

The archive section makes it possible to connect written documents and picture documents to each other; one letter is often an answer to another letter, a written proposal is often associated with drawings.

In the person section it is possible to link persons, institutions or companies to each other, helping to illuminate family relations or connections through organ building.

Finally, it is possible to connect organs to written documents and picture documents (for example a documentation, a contract or a painting connected to a specific organ), organs to persons (for example an organ builder, an organist or a composer connected to an organ) and persons to written documents and picture documents (for example the originator of a letter).

This structure makes it possible to select a certain point of time in history and to trace the historical process, in the database stored as a network between organs, documents, and persons. The user can navigate backwards or forwards in time and will always be informed about connections between organs, documents, and persons in every point in this historical network.

The database system is based on usage of the Internet infrastructure. Information can be added, edited and retrieved using a standard web browser. The web solution makes public access to the database possibile and also creates the ability to cooperate over a broader research network where researchers can search for information in the database independent of their geographical locations.

the ability to Implement direct links between an organ and the corresponding building in the historic building register (bebyggelseregistret) is built into our database. This connection has successfully been tested in both directions in co-operation with the Swedish National Heritage Board.

Page Manager: Erik Bernskiöld|Last update: 5/25/2011
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