I don't know what to do with everything I find in my job as an archivist. A few days ago, working thru a large pile of miscellaneous parts from the Tony Martin collection, I found a little strip of paper, not even a quarter of a full page, just enough for a single line of music. On it, someone had written — hastily, in blue ink — two measures of notes. Not even distinctive measures, just a simple cadential formulation, one that could fit comfortably with pretty much any piece in that key. Short of using handwriting analysis to track down the original copyist (assuming they're still alive and remember this one, completely unremarkable copying job), there is quite literally no way to figure out which arrangement this fragment originally went with.
Realistically, this is probably not an important piece of paper to hold onto. It strains credulity to claim that anyone will ever need the notes written on it, that literally any future task would be rendered impossible by its absence. I'm the only person who's laid eyes on it since it was tossed into that box however many years ago, and given the state of everything around it, I doubt the previous filer kept a careful record of everything there. If it weren't for this post, there would be no record of its existence; it would quite literally be impossible for anyone else to know that anything had disappeared if I threw it away.
But I didn't. I filed it, put it in with the other orphaned parts (most actual parts, full pages with titles and instrument indications, but a few that were fragmentary and unidentifiable), and made a little note in the database that the second Tony Martin road case has a stash of miscellaneous parts that don't correspond to any of the arrangements we have on record.Read More