Discography | The Canadian Encyclopedia



IntroductionA discography is a list, in descriptive detail, of sound recordings; also the research and systems employed in compiling such a list. The term has come to cover the listing of cylinder, compact disc, and tape recordings and other sound-retaining devices as well as vinyl discs.


A discography is a list, in descriptive detail, of sound recordings; also the research and systems employed in compiling such a list. The term has come to cover the listing of cylinder, compact disc, and tape recordings and other sound-retaining devices as well as vinyl discs. The detail and format of a discography tend to differ according to the musical genre being treated.

In jazz discography, perhaps the most detailed in its approach, lists usually are ordered by performer (ie, leader), then subdivided by recording session (whether studio, concert, or radio broadcast). The list would include, wherever possible and for each recorded performance (including unreleased or lost material): complete personnel divided by instrumentation and with soloists identified; city and exact date of recording; titles of works recorded and perhaps, but not ordinarily, composers; matrix numbers (the designation given by a company to a recorded performance for the purpose of in-house identification); and the label and label number of commercial release and, as applicable, of reissues. The discographies of dance bands follow similar principles.

In discographies of classical (ie, concert or operatic) music, lists usually are ordered according to composer or performer: if the former, subdivisions follow by composition and performer; if the latter, by composer and composition. The detail of such lists may include, as applicable: principal personnel (eg, name of ensemble or performing company, soloists, accompanists, conductors); date and place of recording; and date, label, and label number of commercial release or reissue.

Ultimately, however, the guidelines for each discography are set according to the subject's scope and to the limits of available information. Discographies for other genres of music (eg, folk or pop) may adopt either the jazz or the classical format, but more often list only performer, record title, label, and label number.

Canadian Recordings

By definition, any annotated list of records is a discography, regardless of the limits of the annotation or the basic principle or theme underlying the list's compilation. For the purpose of this article, however, lists of Canadian recordings published in catalogues (eg, for commercial purposes), as directories to collections, as a reader service (eg, the lists of new records found in periodicals), or as charts ordered according to momentary popularity (eg, those in RPM, Radio activité, and The Record) will be considered, but only as source material for the preparation of the detailed discography whose purpose is historical documentation.


Canadians also have made valuable contributions to the field of discography internationally. James Creighton's monumental Discopaedia of the Violin 1889-1971 (Toronto 1974) is the most impressive. A second edition of this work is planned but as of 1991 had not been published. Others include Jean-Marie Gaboury's Mozart sur le disque (Montreal 1949), René Girard's Oeuvres et disques de Beethoven (Montreal 1952), Fernand Ouellette's Edgard Varèse (Paris 1966), Barry Tepperman and Vladimir Simosko'sEric Dolphy, A Bio-Discography (Washington 1974), and Bruce Surtees' discographies for Paul Robinson's books about the conductors Karajan, Stokowski, and Solti. Harvey Sachs included a discography in his Toscanini (London 1978). Paul Roussel'sVotre Discothèque and Jacques Thériault's Une Discothèque de base (both Montreal 1973) are general reference books devised to assist in the building of a private record library. Both deal with classical records, but Thériault has included jazz and pop sections by Gilles Archambault and Pyer Gingras respectively. Gerald Parker has compiled a discography of non-commercial recordings of Saverio Mercadante's operas and other vocal works for the Ottawa publication Spectrum (Vol 2, September-October 1979). Dean and Nancy Tudor's Popular Music (Littleton, Colo 1983), an annotated guide to recordings, is a single volume successor to their Jazz, Black Music, Grass Roots Music, Contemporary Popular Music discographies (all 1979). Vladimir Simosko's Serge Chaloff: An Appreciation and Discography was published by the Montreal Vintage Music Society in 1989. He has also completed Artie Shaw: A Musical Biography & Discography but in 1991 it had not yet been published. Jack Mirtle compiled Thank You Music Lovers (New York 1986) a bio-discography of Spike Jones and His City Slickers, 1941 to 1965. Jack Litchfield's 'This is Jazz' (Montreal 1985) is a discography of the radio program of the same name. Gilles Bédard's Au coeur de la musique Nouvel Âge (Montreal 1991) is an annotated guide to Quebec and international recordings of New Age music. Near discographies include Steven C. Barr's The (almost) Complete 78 RPM Dating Guide (Toronto 1979, 2nd ed 1980) and Frank Greene's Composers on Record (Metuchen, NJ 1985), an index to some 200 biographical and 64 discographical sources. Canadian discographers have also contributed to the ARSC Journal.

Source Materials

The earliest regular listings of Canadian and other new records issued in Canada probably were those in the Canadian Music Trades Journal, published monthly from at least 1912 to February 1930 (with a gap April 1927 - December 1928). The lists were arranged by label. The magazine's publisher also issued the Phonograph Journal of Canada from 1919 until sometime in the 1920s; since no issues have been located its significance cannot be measured. The Montreal periodical La Lyre (1922-31) included occasional record lists.

Important for the study of this early period - the Canadian recording industry goes back only to about 1900 - are company files and ledgers. Such files give recording dates and other information about recordings of the day and have been exploited for discographies by Alex Robertson of Montreal (assisted by George Humble), who compiled The Apex 8000 Numerical (Pointe-Claire, Que, 1971, rev 1974) and Canadian Gennett and Starr-Gennett 9000 Numerical (ibid 1972). Robertson also published Canadian Compo Numericals (ibid 1978). Edward B. Moogk, in Roll Back the Years, includes over 4000 entries by manufacturer's number for the Berliner, (RCA) Victor, HMV, Columbia, Compo, Starr, Apex, Ajax, Opraphone, and Canadian Vitaphone labels and their series. David Whatmough's 50 Year Directory of Canadian 45 RPM and 78 RPM Records 1940 to 1990 and his 40 Year Directory of Canadian LP's 1950-1990 (in preparation in 1991) is a numeric listing, by company, giving label, release number, song or album title, and artist for all releases in Canada in that time span. While in themselves authoritative discographies, these are invaluable sources, as well, for other discographers.

Also useful are company advertisements, catalogues, and leaflets, of the kinds issued by Victor, Sparton, Quality, etc. Imported and domestic items, however, usually are indistinguishable in such listings. The CBC began issuing catalogues of its transcription series (RCI) in 1949, culminating in the 1970s in a loose-leaf binder - one page per record - with an index issued periodically. The RCI transcription series, and the related Anthology of Canadian Music, ceased in 1990. Though the complete CBC recording output (ie, the RCI, SM, and LM series) has not been documented in one location or publication, several issues of The Canadian Collection, a catalogue of recordings drawn from these series and for sale to the public, were published in Toronto. In 1990 CBC Records, with commercial distribution through Denon Canada, took over the responsibilty for CBC recordings and periodic issuing catalogues. From time to time, companies such as Fanfare, SNE, and others publish catalogues of their recordings as do the international companies operating in Canada. (See Recorded sound production for recording companies operating in Canada.) The Canadian Music Centre Distribution Service/Service de distribution issues a catalogue that lists Centrediscs recordings and others featuring Canadian composers. Festival Records (Vancouver) and the CSMT Mail Order Service issue catalogues of contemporary and traditional folk song recordings. The Music Industry Database (Toronto) gathers information on the music, broadcasting, and communication industries in Canada and abroad. It contains discographic, bibliographic, and statistical data of use to reseachers and industry personnel. The sound recording component notes product, album title, format, song title, artist, publisher, distributor, contacts' addresses, fax, and phone numbers. Information comes from the record labels, trade publications, magazines, trade associations, and record stores. As of August 1991 the database contained information on 5000 product items and 20,000 songs. In 1991 G.N. Hunter of Calgary started to organize a database of independent and privately produced classical ('concert') recordings in Canada. The National Library of Canada collects release information and catalogues from Canadian and other record labels. The papers of the Compo company are deposited at the NL of C. Canadiana, a NL of C publication first issued in 1950 and devoted to a monthly listing of 'publications of Canadian interest received by the National Library,' began in 1970 to include records with a release date of 1969 and later. The order of listing follows the Dewey Decimal system of classification, but the indexes allow access by composer, performer, some other personal and corporate names, title of music, subject headings, and album title. Coverage includes LPs, CDs, cassette reel-to-reel, and cartridge tapes, and a few 45-rpm discs. By 1991 Canadiana provided detail for some 20,000 LPs, 4500 CDs, 2300 cartridges, and 8400 cassettes. The Library of Congress Catalog - Music and Phonorecords (Washington 1953- ; title changed in 1973 to Music, Books on Music, and Sound Recordings) gives similar information for holdings at the Library of Congress in Washington, which often includes recordings of Canadian interest. Other international compilations and record review indexes containing data are the Eastman School of Music's Sibley Library Catalogue (Boston 1977), Kurtz Myers' Record Ratings (New York 1956) and Index to Record Reviews (Boston 1978, 1985, 1989), and CD Review Digest Annual (Voorheesville, NY 1988- ), the first volume covering 1983-7. Two Canadian librarians, Andrew Armitage and Dean Tudor, prepared the Annual Index to Popular Music Record Reviews (Metuchen, NJ 1972-5). The Dictionary Catalogue of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound (Boston 1981) contains many Canadian recordings as does the Rigler-Deutsch Index, a listing available on microform of the 78-rpm recordings by composer, performer, title, label issue number, label matrix number, held by five collections in the USA. (A similar microform index of the 45- and 78-rpm collections at the NL of C has also been prepared). The US company OCLC prepared a CD-ROM of the sound recordings in its database in 1990, with annual updates planned. In 1990 the BBC Gramophone Library was also preparing a CD-ROM of its collection.

Recorded sound collections are the primary source for discographical research. Institutions with significant collections in Canada include the BN du Q, Brock University (Brock University Popular Music Archive), CBC libraries in Toronto and Montreal, Grant MacEwan Community College (Sunwapta Record Collection), Laval University, McGill University, McMaster University, Mount Allison University, the NL of C, University of Calgary, University of Toronto (Sniderman Recording Archive), UQAM, University of Western Ontario, University of Victoria, and York University (Anne and Robert Levine Collection of Recorded Jazz). Other universities, colleges, and conservatories also have valuable collections as do many public libraries though their collections are often more transient. (See Libraries for details of these and other collections.) Access to some of the cataloguing records for some of these collections can be obtained through such databases as DOBIS, UTLAS, and OCLC. Two published catalogues of the Mount Allison University library holdings are of discographical interest: Canadian Music Scores and Records (Sackville, NB 1976) by Gwendolyn Creelman, Esther Cooke, and Geraldine King and the Catalogue of Canadian Folk Music in the Mary Mellish Archibald Library and Other Special Collections (Sackville, NB 1974) by Eleanor Magee and Margaret Fancy. The Jean-Jacques Schira collection at the Centre d'archives de l'Estrie (ANQ) contains 234 cylinders and some 3400 discs of Quebec song from 1900 to 1950 and is discussed in Gilles Durand's 'La collection Jean-Jacques Schira' in La Chanson en Questions (Montreal 1985). Richard Perreault's 'La collection Rieault' is in the same book. A Phonotèque québécoise has been proposed but as of 1991 plans for it had not been finalized (see Daniel Rolland 'La Phonothèque québécoise: souvenir du patrimoine sonore,' Le Milieu, February 1991).

It is private collectors and their collections that form the backbone of original discographical research in Canada, and many collectors are themselves discographers. An informal network of collectors and discographers exists on an international scale, with knowledgeable Canadians assisting in the preparation of many works of international scope and helping in each other's projects. Organized record collector clubs have been formed in Canada devoted to the study of the history of recorded sound through the collection and preservation of recordings and sound-reproducing equipment, the research of performers' careers, and often the compilation of discographies. These clubs include the Montreal Vintage Music Society, formed in 1966 by Jim Kidd, Dick Bourcier, Hank Fleischman, and Jack Litchfield and the West Mississauga Jazz Muddies formed in 1971 in the Toronto area by Eugene Miller. Since 1972 these groups have sponsored the Canadian Congress of Collectors, an annual convention to exchange of information and recordings, hear guest speakers, and honour musical figures

Other clubs have included 78s Revisited, developed in 1968 from a CBC Vancouver radio show 'The Record Collector,' and the Canadian Antique Phonograph Society, founded in 1969 by John Stephen of Oshawa, Ont, and centred in Toronto. The Vancouver Record Collectors Association organized The History of Vancouver Rock and Roll LP series documenting Vancouver's rock scene in the 1950s and 1960s. Similar groups are active throughout the country, meeting regularly in libraries or private homes to listen to and discuss recordings of mutual interest. The 1989 ARSC (Association for Recorded Sound Collections) Membership Directory listed 38 individuals and institutions as Canadian members and also noted their specialities.

There are other publications useful for research purposes. RPM (Toronto 1965- ) The Record (Toronto 1981-), and Radio activité (Montréal 1982- ) are trade magazines that prepare charts of popular songs and albums (see Charts). The Record's charts are also available on-line through Information Network Canada. The short-lived Record Week published similar charts 1975-7. A Chartology of Canadian Popular Music: January 1965 to December 1976 (Toronto 1978), compiled for RPM by Brendan J. Lyttle, includes, by date, title, and artist, every Canadian single and LP listed on the RPM charts. This was updated in RPM 2 Jul 1988. Ted Kennedy's Canadian Chart Research has utilized RPM, The Record, and the US publication Billboard in the preparation of Charts Canada, Canada Top 40, Country Canada, (Oh) Canada Cuts, and Maple Music (all Kelowna 1989). Useful information can also be found in the summaries of the US charts prepared by Joel Whitburn (using Billboard ) and George Albert and Frank Hoffman (using Cashbox). One issue only was published of the Canadian LP & Tape Catalogue (Ann Arbor, Mich, and Ottawa, Summer 1975), designed by M.J. MacArthur Wrightman along the lines of Schwann and Gramophone. Also in the same vein is Audio Key (Winnipeg, five editions 1985-7). Both suffer from lack of completeness. Hot Wacks (Kitchener ca 1975-85) listed and rated Canadian and international 'bootleg' recordings. The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of Recorded Music (New York 1936, 1942, 1948) and F.F. Clough and C.J. Cummings' World's Encyclopedia of Recorded Music (London 1952, supplements 1953, 1957) list some early recordings by Canadians from the era of the 78-rpm disc. Schwann (Boston 1949-90, continued by Spectrum for pop and Opus for classical music, and the monthly InMusic), Gramophone (Harrow 1953-), Music Master (Hastings 1974- ), Diapason's Catalogue général classique (Paris no date), and Bielefelder (Bielefeld 1970- ) include records by Canadians if released in the respective countries of their publication. The Schwann Artist Issue (classical) is also of research value as is the Phonolog (Los Angeles 1977- ) a looseleaf service which lists items by artist, song title (with composer), album title (with contents) for popular, classical, and a few specialized areas of music. The Billboard/Phonolog Music Reference Library is a CD-ROM which details the over 80,000 recordings, covering every genre of music available in the USA, started in 1991. The papers for Disc-o-logue (La Tuque, Que), a similar publication to Phonolog, which listed French Canadian and French releases in Canada from ca 1965 to 1980 are deposited at the NL of C and are an excellent source of discographical information.

Several articles, general and specific, have been written about Canadian recordings. These include John Beckwith's chapter 'Recordings' in Music in Canada (Toronto 1955), which looks at the history of recording in Canada, and his survey 'Canadian recordings, a discography' (in the Canadian Library Association's Bulletin Apr 1956). Musicanada, presented a three-part series by Michael S. Grobin (September 1969, March 1970, final issue 1970) which discussed over 25 composers, with reference to recordings of their works. The series continued in Performing Arts in Canada (Summer 1971 to Spring 1973, followed by 'The Canadian collection,' Summer 1973). It was updated by Barry Edwards in 'A critical discography of Canadian music' in Musicanada (June, December 1981). Edwards' 'Canadian orchestras: concealing our identity - a discography' (Musicanada, June 1984) discusses some of the history of Canadian orchestral recordings. Françoise Davoine's 'L'aventure du disque de musique québécoise' examines classical recordings released in Quebec between 1980 and 1990. In the August 1972 issue of Coda John Norris examines the jazz recordings of RCI. Detailed discographical information in these articles, however, is minimal.


Various guides or reference works, though limited in the range of information they provide, may be considered discographies. These include Edith Fowke's 'A guide to Canadian folk song records,' published in Canadian Forum (September 1957) and her later Reference List on Canadian Folk Music (Toronto 1966, revised in 1973, 1978, and 1983 for the Canadian Folk Music Journal), compiled with Barbara Cass-Beggs. The 1983 revision lists 68 records by traditional performers (cited by title or performer, collector, label, and number; performers are not always named) and 98 by non-traditional performers (cited by performer, record title, label, and number). The CBC radio program 'Choral Concert' issued the 1979 Canadian Choral Records List (Vancouver 1979), compiled by Jon Washburn, the host of the series. It lists 113 choral recordings by performing group, location, titles, label, and number. The Great Canadian Jazz Discography (11 editions, Winnipeg 1976-9), compiled by the CBC's 'Jazz Radio-Canada,' lists records (under performer, title, label, and number) according to current availability; 'Contemporary Canadian Jazz Recordings - a Selected Discography,' compiled by Lois Moody and published in Jazz Ottawa (no. 19, 1978), offers similar information. Musicanada devoted an entire issue (subtitled 'Canada on Record,' January-February 1970) to 'some recordings of works by Canadian composers' - 233 works by 99 composers on 74 LPs' a supplement (October 1972) adds 182 compositions on 72 LPs. Citations include record title, performer(s), composers and works, timings, record label, and number. For Aspects de la musique au Canada (Montreal 1970), Gilles Potvin completed a 'Selection discographique de musique canadienne,' covering 64 composers and more than 130 works by title, performers, record label, and number. Wayne Gilpin's Directory of Musical Canadiana (Edmonton 1978) includes similar listings for 127 composers. Counterpoint's Basic Classical Record Library (Toronto 1978) includes an essay by Barry Edwards titled 'Canadian music: an introductory survey'. Neil Rosenberg compiled 'Canadian bluegrass albums: a preliminary list' for Bluegrass Canada Magazine (January-February and March-April 1990). Cécile Tremblay-Matte's 'Les chansonnières au Québec' (Les cahiers de l'ARMuQ, April 1990) examines the songs and recordings of Monique Brunet, Christine Charbonneau, Clémence Desrochers, Louise Forestier, Gervaise(Desbiens-Roy), Suzanne Jacob, Marie Lavigueur, Jacqueline Lemay, Monique Miville-Deschênes, Priscilla (Lapointe), and Marie Savard.

Several Canadian discographies have concentrated on specific areas of research. One of the most ambitious, Edward B. Moogk's pioneering Roll Back the Years (Ottawa 1975), covers the period of recorded-sound history in Canada from its beginnings to 1930 and provides a firm foundation for all Canadian discographical work to follow. It lists some 7700 recordings ordered alphabetically by performer - the performers all either born or at some time in their careers resident in Canada - as well as some 860 recordings arranged alphabetically by composer or lyricist (some 75 in the two categories) and numerical series for several labels. A continuation, leading to the end of the 78 era, remained a fragment at his death. His wife, Edith K. Moogk, with Gerald Parker and David Emmerson, compiled a Title Index to Canadian Works Listed in Edward B. Moogk's Roll Back the Years (Ottawa 1988). Martin F. Bryan has compiled Additions and Corrections to Edward B. Moogk's Roll Back the Years (self published, St. Johnsbury, Vt 1986).

Michael Taft's scholarly A Regional Discography of Newfoundland and Labrador (St John's 1975) is divided into two sections: 'Newfoundlanders on record' and 'Newfoundland songs recorded by non-Newfoundlanders'. There are indexes by composer, song title, and accompanist, and the book is prefaced by a short history of recorded music in the province.

Gabriel Labbé's Les Pionniers du disque folklorique québécois 1920-1950 (Montreal 1977) includes bio-discographies for 24 performers and history-discographies for the Alouette Vocal Quartet and La Bonne Chanson.

The Canadian Jazz Discography 1916 -1980 (Toronto 1982) by Jack Litchfield is a major work on Canadian jazz with access by performer with a tune title and a musicians index.

Neil Bowers' Index to Canadian Children's Records (Bridgewater 1984) has a song title and a subject index for 47 children's records.

L'Association des Cinémas Parallèles du Québec and Les Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québecois prepared the Discographie du Cinéma Québécois (Montréal 1990) with indexes by film title and composer.

André Gibeault's Canadian Records (Montreal 1987), a discography and price guide of Canadian 45s and LPs from 1955 to 1975, is one of the few publications to list Canadian, including French Canadian, rock music. It gives artist, song title, album title record label and number, date, and value information for over 4000 singles and albums. Biographical information is included for a few of the artists.

The Dictionnaire de la musique populaire québécoise (1955-1990) by Robert Thérien and Isabelle D'Amour is planned for publication in Quebec in 1992 by the Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture. It is the first in a projected series of bio-discographies of Quebec music.

Biographies or other works devoted to individual musicians or groups may include discographies of varying styles and quality. (See Biographies for a list of biographies of Canadian musicians). Edwin Harkin's Maynard Ferguson: A Discography (self published, San Diego 1976), Don Cleary's discography of Wilf Carter (self published, Fort Lauderdale, Fla 1982), Ross Brethour's 'The West, A Nest, and You', a bio-discography of Mart Kenney and his Western Gentlemen (Aurora, Ont 1988) and his A Max Boag Discography (Aurora, Ont 1981) are among the few discographical publications devoted exclusively to individual Canadian musicians.Three issues of the British publication the Record Collector have been devoted to Canadian singers: Pauline Donalda (November 1956, by Arthur E. Knight), Emma Albani (February-March 1959, by W.R. Moran), and Florence Easton (January 1974, by John Stratton). An extensive discography of Paul Bley, compiled by Ib Skovgaard Petersen and Laurent Goddet for Jazz Hot, was reprinted in Coda (March-April 1979). Discographies for Canadian performers have appeared from time to time in record collector magazines such as Goldmine. Some 20 magazines devoted to aspects of discography are indexed in 'Current Bibliography' in the ARSC Journal (Albuquerque, NM and elsewhere 1967/8- )

Chansons d'aujourd'hui (Montreal 1977- ) has published several detailed discographies of Quebec performers including Marjo (July-August 1987), Pierre Flynn (October 1987), Claude Dubois (December 1987), Richard Séguin (March 1988), Félix Leclerc (September 1988), Robert Charlebois (February 1988), Clémence Desrochers (April 1989), Marie-Denise Pelletier (April 1990), Jean-Pierre Ferland (November-December 1984), Pauline Julien (April 1985), Michel Rivard (August 1985), Sylvain Lelièvre (April 1986), Jim Corcoran (June 1986), Marie-Claire Séguin (October 1986), Louise Forestier (December 1986), Plume Latraverse (June 1990), Gerry Boulet (September 1990), Richard Desjardins (November 1990), and Genevieve Paris (March 1991). Yé-yé (Quebec City 1983-9) has also published discographies of Quebec artists from the 1950s and 1960s. The December 1989 issue contains an index of the artists covered.

International discographies with material on Canadians include Jorgen Jepsen Grunnet's Jazz Records 1942-6 (9 vols, Holte, Denmark, 1962-8); J.B. Steane's The Grand Tradition (New York 1974), 'Seventy years of singing on record 1900-1970'; Jack Raymond's Show Music On Record, from the 1890s to the 1980s (New York 1982); Brian Rust's The American Dance Band Discography 1917-1942 (New Rochelle, NY 1975) and his London Musical Shows on Record 1897-1976 (London 1977); Charles H. Parson's Opera Discography,part of The Mellen Opera Reference Index (Lampter, Dyfed, Wales 1986); Jane Frasier's Women Composers, A Discography (Detroit 1983); Richard Chigley Lynch's Broadway on Record, a directory of New York Cast Recordings of Musical Shows 1931-1986 (New York 1987); and Walter Bruyninckx's ongoing series of jazz discographies (Mechelen, Belgium 1980- ). A valuable guide to discographies is the Bibliography of Discographies series, including vol 1 Classical Music, 1925-1975 (New York 1977); vol 2 Jazz (New York 1977); vol 3 Popular Music (New York 1983); and vol 4 Classical Music, 1976-1988 (New York 1989). This series complements the continuing 'Current Bibliography' in issues of the ARSC Journal.

Selected or complete discographies have been appended to many articles in EMC, employing different formats for classical music, jazz, and pop (see p xx for explanation and guidance).

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