As Frédéric Döhl recently noted in his article „Potential und Risiken des Archival Turns in den Digital Humanities für die Musikwissenschaft“ (in: „Archiv für Musikwissenschaft“ 75,4 , pp. 301–320), the hierarchy of accessibility among sources shifts perceptibly during digitalization, and musicology and archives ultimately become something like a dual form of music historiography. This paper tries to argue that the limited accessibility of private archives can be regarded as a parallel phenomenon to the digital multiplication of already known sources, while non-digitized sources increasingly disappear from focus. To avoid unintended consequences that hinder research attempting to open up new sources, it is necessary to find feasible paths to a fruitful handling of such archives at the intersection of the public and private interest. The limitations of temporary research projects in particular complicate the options for exploitation, as the grey area of private archives offers the services of public archives only to a very limited extent. Here, the researcher is often not a user but a supplicant. Considering some of the main problems regarding persisting inaccessibility, reduced opening hours and dealing with archive catalogues (when they exist), this article attempts to determine the potential for a restricted, though fruitful, use of undiscovered sources during ongoing research in which the exploitation of a private archive with an abundance of material is just part of a research project and not its main focus. The discussion is enriched with personal experiences, with two examples from Venice and Florence. These empirical insights were obtained during research on the production mechanisms of Italian opera in the first half of the 18th Century, but could be extended to other interdisciplinary projects that tackle an extensive corpus of heterogeneous sources.
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