This section provides a historical background and general information on various National Library of Scotland materials that are of interest to the music reader.
- Books on music: Most books on music are part of the printed book collections (British books, rare books, and foreign books) of the National Library of Scotland.
- Early printed music: Much of pre-1800 material has been acquired as part of the special collections (Glen, Inglis, Balfour, Henderson, Hopkinson and other named collections based outside music), but antiquarian purchase has taken place since the early 20th century to complement the special collections.
- Manuscript music: Music manuscripts, ranging from the early 16th-century Carver choirbook to 20th-century composers such as Robin Orr and Ronald Stevenson, are administered by Manuscript Collections.
- Modern printed music: Modern music collections held at the National Library of Scotland include most, if not all, modern publications published in the British Isles. They contain music of every genre from classical to folk and pop. Educational publications are also represented. Music published abroad including scholarly and collected editions are purchased selectively.
- Other media (CD-ROM, etc.): The music collections include a small number of CD-ROMs and floppy discs. Most of these accompany periodicals and magazines.
- Sound recordings: There are about 23,500 published sound recordings (78s, reel-to-reel tapes, cassette tapes, LPs, CDs, as well as videos), mainly of Scottish content.
- Special collections (Scottish and early
- Glen Collection: Collected by John Glen, and presented to the Library by Dorothea Ruggles-Brise in 1927. View selected Glen Collection items online
- Inglis Collection: Collected by Alexander Wood Inglis, and bequeathed by him to the Library in 1929. View selected Inglis Collection items online
- Murdoch Henderson Collection: Collected by John Murdoch Henderson and bequeathed by him to the Library in 1973. The bequest included a fund to allow further additions to be made to the collection.
- Balfour Handel Collection: Early editions of Handel, gathered by Julian Marshall and purchased by the Library from the estate of its late owner, the Earl of Balfour, in 1937.
- Hopkinson Berlioz Collection: Contemporary and later editions of the works of Berlioz, collected by the music bibliographer Cecil Hopkinson, and presented by him to the Library in 1952.
- Hopkinson Verdi Collection: Contemporary and later editions of the works of Verdi, collected by the music bibliographer Cecil Hopkinson, and purchased by the Library in 1970.
- Special collections (sound):
- Dean-Myatt Collection: This collection contains about 5,000 sound recordings, mainly shellac records, cassette tapes and a small number of wax cylinders. The majority of the shellac records are mass-produced commercial copies. but the collection also includes a number of test prints. The collection includes Scottish music of various genres, from Gaelic songs, music of the Scottish music hall, Border songs, fiddle and bagpipe music to dialect sketches. Artists represented in this collection include Jimmy Shand, Jim Cameron, Harry Gordon, Harry Lauder, Archie Grant, Bob Smith, William Ross, Henry Forsyth.