First and last – recognising the ISMN

full band cartoon

Cartoon by Andy Pitchforth

 Around 20 years ago I invested in the International Standard Music Numbers or ISMN (for full details please see ). The ISMN is similar to an ISBN for a books but specifically designed for notated music publications. According to the news section on the site the ISMNs are still not universally recognised, Amazon had no idea about them and from my own experience iBooks only asks for an ISBN.

Why did I choose to use them for my publications? It was a recognised way of cataloguing the music that I had published and it meant I had to get my output in order rather than forgetting or mislaying certain titles and editions. By the mid 1990s I had published over 150 pieces, collections, suites, adaptations and arrangements and they needed putting in order.

The first collection in the catalogue is 979 -0 -57007-001-5 (57007 being my unique publisher number) Graded Grooves Volume 1. The first in a series of six volumes of ensemble music for use with GCSE, BTEC and A level students.

The books can be easily adapted to various instrumental combinations, examples are ten keyboards or small band of flute, clarinet, tuba and rhythm section with concert pitch and transposed parts included in every set. Each of the Graded Grooves volumes has parts for three ‘front line’ instruments with part books in C for violin, flute, guitar, oboe, keyboard, tuned percussion or trombone, in Bb for flugel, trumpet, cornet, clarinet, soprano sax, baritone, euphonium or tenor sax. and in Eb for alto sax, tenor horn, baritone sax or Eb bass.

The rhythm section parts are two guitars (single line but not TAB) and and chord part, piano, synthesiser, bass, drum kit and hand percussion. (some vocal cues and ideas are included). Each volume has a section for composition and/or improvisation with given chord symbols and notes on types of improvisation and some arranging techniques.

Volume 1 contains ten original compositions for elementary standard ensemble entitled;- First March, Modal Rock, More & More, Blue, Country Waltz, Cha Cha 1, Drone (Film music), Boss Bass, Rock Blues, Hit Rap with 2 extra chord sheets for improvisation ideas including explanatory notes;- Sequence 1 and Sequence 2.

All compositions were written by myself and the series was edited by Richard Ingham who I found out today is featured in the Fife Jazz Festival on February 7th this year as well as presenting a concert featuring eight new pieces for saxophone to celebrate the bicentenary of Adolphe Sax. The new works are an eclectic mix of contemporary classical, traditional and jazz music and will take place on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 @ 7:30 in The Cardy Net House, Lower Largo, KY8 6BJ.


The most recent ISMN in my catalogue of original music is 979 -0 -57007-236-1 French Omelette for brass quintet which was performed by the Aylesbury Grammar School brass quintet at their Christmas concert. The piece was so well received the group got a booking to play it again at an 80th birthday party this year. Details of this and other brass music is on the home page at

The composer or arranger feels good when the music that has been carefully put together is appreciated by an audience and they as for an encore. Long may it continue.

© P.R.Birkby 2015


About derangeddrums

Composer, percussionist, musical director, teacher and educator. My music has been written for audiences in palaces and in the street. Music is my vocation and my passion and I hope you enjoy it too.
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