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John McGann papers, 1977-2012

Identifier: BCA-038

Scope and Contents

The personal papers of multi-instrumentalist, Berklee alumnus, and former Berklee faculty member John McGann (1960-2012). In addition teaching students in both the String Department and the American Roots Music Program at Berklee, McGann was a prolific composer and arranger who ran a successful transcription business: The Original Custom Transcription Service. This collection contains much of McGann’s body of work, teaching materials, and biographical materials covering his performance career. Many of the materials in the collection are undated, and there are not many materials to shed light on McGann's personal life. The bulk of the collection, however, is made up of transcriptions, found in series one and two, and arrangements, found in series three and six which provide a rich overview of McGann's work and professional career.


  • 1977-2012


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research by appointment. Advance notice is required for access because materials are stored offsite. Use of audiovisual materials may require production of listening or viewing copies.

Biographical / Historical

Multi-instrumentalist, Berklee professor, and internationally known performer John McGann was born on September 12, 1959 and raised in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey. McGann earned a degree from Berklee College of Music in 1981. He was invited back to the college in 2004 as an Associate Professor in the String Department. He was later promoted to Professor. In addition to teaching courses at Berklee, McGann oversaw ensembles covering many genres, such as bluegrass, Celtic music, and country, and was a member of the American Roots Music Program advisory committee.

As a performer, McGann was a talented musician, playing several instruments including guitar, mandolin, mandola, and octave mandolin. He was a member of Wayfaring Strangers, Rust Farm, and Classical Tangent. McGann was also named the 1986 US National Mandolin Champion at the Walnut Valley Mandolin Championship.

In addition to teaching and performing, McGann was a skilled arranger, transcriber, and composer. He ran a transcription business, the Original Custom Transcription Service, arranged several pieces for performers all over the world, and arranged for the Boston Pops (under his pen name, Sean O'Loughlin). McGann passed away on April 5, 2012. The materials in this collection were donated to Berklee College of Music by his widow, Sharon McGann.


12 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Arranged in six series:

Series 1: The Original Custom Transcription Service

This series contains several hundred transcriptions done by McGann as part of his business, the Original Custom Transcription Service. The materials in this series make up the bulk of the collection (6 linear feet). The materials are arranged alphabetically by artist/band.

Series 2: Transcriptions

This series contains transcriptions done by McGann, but outside the realm of the Original Custom Transcription Service. Items in this series include a book of McGann’s transcriptions from 1978 and transcriptions done for Margot Leverett and the Mountain Klezmer Boys. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series 3: Arrangements

This series contains arrangements by McGann, covering artists such as Django Reinhardt and Emil Stern as well as arrangements of Irish music. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series 4: Teaching Materials

This series contains materials created and used by McGann while teaching at Berklee. Items of note include “The Guitar Tablature Reader’s Guide to Standard Notation,” written by McGann in 1990, dossiers submitted to Berklee when applying for a promotion within the college, and lesson materials in Celtic music and bluegrass. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series 5: Personal Materials

This series contains materials that provide more insight into McGann’s personal and professional lives. Items of note include book proposals, birthday cards, materials related to gigs with Wayfaring Strangers, and a thesis paper written about McGann by a student at the University of Limerick. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series 6: Orchestral Scores

This series contains scores orchestrated for the Boston Pops by McGann (under the pen name Sean O’Loughlin) and Patrick Hollenbeck. Also included are arrangements by Paul Weston. These are oversized materials. This series is arranged chronologically.

Existence and Location of Copies

Copies of several of the transcriptions found in Series One, The Original Custom Transcription Service, can be found in the American Roots Music Program.


John McGann papers, 1977-2012
Amanda Axel
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Berklee Archives Repository

Berklee College of Music
1140 Boylston St
Boston MA 02215 USA