Friday, March 23, 2012

Anyone for Ukulele?

A cover sheet for "Minnie the Moocher (The Ho De Ho Song)." The illustration shows a dancing couple in front of a nighttime cityscape, silhouetted dancers, and a yellow backdrop.A stringed instrument shaped like a very small guitar with only four strings, the ukulele became extremely popular in the United States in the early part of the twentieth century.  It continued to be a favorite until its gradual decline in the 1970s, though a more recent upswing in popularity has brought the uke back into the public eye.  Part of the ukulele's popularity was its relatively low cost and ease of transport, which made it very popular among amateur musicians.  Music publishers quickly realized that they could cash in on this phenomenon and began selling sheet music to popular songs with special ukelele chord tablature or fingerings.

A cover page for sheet music to Singing' in the Rain, featuring photographs of the film's stars in red.A page of sheet music for "Sextet from Lucia."
Rauner Library has an extensive sheet music collection and over a thousand of these pieces contain ukulele chord diagrams.  These range from classic opera such as a sextet from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor to Cab Calloway's Minnie the Moocher to the title track from Singin' in the Rain.

To see all of the ukulele sheet music pieces, search the library catalog and ask for your favorite.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


A page of printed text.Palatino--you know the "font" on your computer, but do you know its source? The typeface was developed by Herman Zapf in 1948, but Zapf's inspiration goes back to Renaissance Italy. In 1550, master calligrapher Giovanbattista Palatino wrote the second great treatise on handwriting. Our 1578 edition titled Compendio del gran volumede l'art del ben et leggiadramente scrivere tutte le sorti di lettere et caratteri (Venice: Appresso gli Heredi di Marchio Sessa, 1587) is part of our Ray Nash Calligraphy collection.

Palatino is a serif font with the characteristic small details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up the individual letters. Used primarily for printed materials, Palatino and other serif fonts have fallen out of favor in online media as sans-serif fonts such as Arial are thought to be easier to read on screen.

An open book of printed text.
Interestingly, Nash, who ran Dartmouth's Graphic Arts Workshop and inspired a generation of typographers, brought Zapf to Dartmouth several times, though we don't think we can make any claim that Nash's book collection inspired Palatino, the typeface.

To learn to write beautifully, ask for Callig Z43.A3P3.