Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection A report for LIS-435 ...


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Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection A report for LIS-435 ...

  1. 1. Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection A report for LIS-435, Music Librarianship, at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science Spring 2006 by Scott Salvaggio
  2. 2. Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection Objective To enhance an existing digital music library by creating sound files to accompany the sheet music files, and synchronizing these two file formats so that they can be simultaneously viewed and listened to in a single computer window. The Digital Library The Inventions of Note Sheet Music Collection is a digital library of “approximately 50 pieces of sheet music owned by the Lewis Music Library” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (“Description”, par. 2). Established in 1997, the collection presents “popular songs and piano compositions that portray technologies… as revealed through song texts and/or cover art,” published in the U.S. between approximately 1890 and 1920 (“Description”, par. 1). With the exception of 4 sound files, the collection consists exclusively of scanned images in PDF format of the original sheet music. The 4 sound files are in mp3 format and were taken from a live recording of a concert presented by MIT Music and Theater Arts Faculty. The web site contains an index that lists the song titles in alphabetical order (see Fig. 2), with links to individual records that contain a thumbnail image of the cover art, some brief metadata, and a link to the sheet music in PDF format. Each of the 4 records with sound files also contains a link to the sound recording in mp3 format (see Fig. 3). Scott Salvaggio 2
  3. 3. Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection Fig. 1. Home page of the Inventions of Note Sheet Music Collection web site. Scott Salvaggio 3
  4. 4. Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection Fig. 2. Title Index of the Inventions of Note Sheet Music Collection web site. Scott Salvaggio 4
  5. 5. Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection Fig. 3. Individual record from the Inventions of Note Sheet Music Collection web site. Scott Salvaggio 5
  6. 6. Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection Users of the Collection Not much is known about the users of the Inventions of Note Sheet Music Collection. For instance, although it is thought that the collection is used more by the general public than by researchers, there is no data to prove this (Munstedt). It is also unknown whether or not the majority of users of this collection can read music. Current Functionality The Inventions of Note Sheet Music Collection and its web site provide an important glimpse into the reactions of American society to the inventions of the time, which range from “excitement and delight to anxiety and scorn” (“Description”, par. 1). th This, in turn, sheds light on the music and culture of America in the early 20 century. By means of the music, lyrics and/or cover art, each song makes some statement about the technology of the time. However, in its present state, the digital library does present a limitation to the general user of the collection. For instance, for users who cannot read music, a vital aspect of the collection – the sound of the music itself – is inaccessible. Such users are limited to the cover art and lyrics (where lyrics are present). Even for users of the collection that can read music, it is difficult to aurally perceive the full effect of the music without the direct experience of listening to a performance. This limitation is underscored when comparing the songs with sounds recordings (of which there are four in the collection) to the songs without sound recordings. The user will find a notably richer, more informative and enjoyable experience when able to both view the sheet music and listen to a performance of the piece. Enhancing the Functionality The first goal of the author was to create sound files to accompany the sheet music files. However, the simple addition of sound files to the collection does not completely address this particular limitation. For the four pieces that presently contain both sound and sheet music files, the user must open each file separately in order to listen and view the music simultaneously. This poses two problems for the user. One is that the user has to toggle back and forth between two windows, which is cumbersome. The other problem is that the user is forced to scroll through the sheet music file and manually turn its pages, which detracts from the experience of listening and viewing music. Equipped with a single window that synchronizes the sheet music with the performance, the user is allowed “freer concentration on music cognition” (Dunn, Davidson, Holloway, and Bernbom 5). Thus, a system for simultaneously viewing the sheet music and listening to the performance must be developed for users to take full advantage of the two musical formats found on the Inventions of Note Sheet Music Collection web site. Creating and implementing such a system was the second goal of the author. Such a sound-score synchronization application has already been created by Indiana University’s Variation2 Digital Library Project1. This truly innovative and 1 Variations2: The Indiana University Digital Music Library. <http://www.dml.indiana.edu/> Scott Salvaggio 6
  7. 7. Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection inspiring project has developed, among many other components, a tool that not only plays and displays the music in a single computer window, automatically turning the pages of the score to follow the performance, but also provides random access – the ability to “turn to a specific page in the score or enter a specific measure number and have the sound recording move to that same point” (Dunn, Davidson, Holloway, and Bernbom 9). Unfortunately, the sound-score synchronization tool of Variations2 required resources beyond the scope of this project: custom application development and deployment within the existing digital library system. As a result, widely used software applications were explored, in the hopes that one or a combination of these programs could provide similar capabilities. Implementation Such a combination of software applications was indeed identified, and a workflow was developed to provide a somewhat similar, although considerably more limited, sound-score synchronization tool. The workflow and software applications are described in Table 1 below. Table 1. Workflow and Software List for Sound-Score Synchronization General Function Software Program(s) Used Convert multi-page PDF file to a Scansoft PDF Converter (to convert PDF file to series of page images in JPEG Word document), format (1 page = 1 image) to be Microsoft Word (to arrange the resulting images in imported into slideshow one folder – done by selecting the “Save As Web Page” feature) Synchronize the sound file with the Microsoft PowerPoint (to create slides for each slides of sheet music page of music and record timings for slide changes that are synchronized with the imported sound file) This workflow requires, of course, that the sheet music and sound files have already been created. The existing web site of the Inventions of Note Sheet Music Collection already contained all of the sheet music files in PDF format. However, as mentioned before, only four of the songs in the collection contained sound files. Therefore, it was necessary to create sound files for the rest of the collection. Due to the scope of the project, sound files for only five pieces from the collection could be created. Finale, a widely-used commercial music notation software, was used to 2 create the sound files . Finale was chosen due primarily to the fact that it is owned by the author, and because there were no resources available to purchase any other notation program. If such resources were available, the author might have chosen the Sibelius commercial notation software, due to its Scorch web plug-in, which allows users to “view, play, customize and print Sibelius scores on the Internet” (“Scorch”). 2 Finale. <http://www.finalemusic.com/> Scott Salvaggio 7
  8. 8. Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection Notation software was chosen due to the ease and speed in which music can be entered using the computer’s keyboard. The resulting notation file can then be exported as an audio file. One might wonder how manual input into a notation program could be more efficient than simply recording a musical performance. A recording requires finding appropriate musicians to perform the music and giving them adequate time to prepare for the recording. Needless to say, such resources and time were not available for this project. Also, certain notation files, such as those created in Finale or Sibelius, provide both a graphical and audio representation of the music. Although there is no widely accepted standard notation file format, in the future perhaps the Scorch web plug- in will achieve widespread use, and thus encourage the practice of posting notation files on the Internet. It is certainly promising that the renowned Grove Music Online has adopted the Scorch web plug-in as its tool for interactive musical examples (“Product Demonstration” 15). Results Using the workflow and software applications described above, 5 instrumental piano pieces were entered into notation files (in Finale’s .mus file format) and then exported as audio files (in mp3 format). The 5 resulting sound files were then imported into PowerPoint and synchronized with the slide images. The resulting 5 PowerPoint slideshows were then saved in the PowerPoint Show file format (.pps), which can be 3 viewed (but not altered) with the free PowerPoint Viewer . Synchronized slideshows were then created for the 4 existing sound files. The results are summarized in Table 2. 3 PowerPoint Viewer 2003. <http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/ details.aspx?FamilyID=428d5727-43ab-4f24-90b7-a94784af71a4&DisplayLang=en> Scott Salvaggio 8
  9. 9. Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection Table 2. Resulting Project Files. Source Material Resulting Files 5 solo piano pieces in PDF 5 audio files in MPEG-1 layer III format: (.mp3) format (1) Auto Race (2) The Bell Telephone Girl (3) Live Wires Rag (4) Musical Souvenir of the Cyclists National Grand March (5) The Speed Kings 5 synchronized slideshows in PowerPoint Show (.pps) format 4 songs (piano and voice with lyrics) in PDF and mp3 4 synchronized slideshows in formats: PowerPoint Show (.pps) format (1) Come Take a Trip in My Airship (2) Keep Away from the Fellow Who Owns an Automobile (3) Kissing Papa through the Telephone (4) Take Your Girlie to the Movies 5 audio files (.mp3) Total: 9 synchronized slideshows (.pps) Scott Salvaggio 9
  10. 10. Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection Conclusion The results were presented to Peter Munstedt, Librarian of the Lewis Music Library, and Nicole Hennig, Web Manager and Usability Specialist, on April 27, 2006. Peter and Nicole approved of the resulting project files and are interested in pursuing the possibility of implementing this work into the Inventions of Note Sheet Music Collection web site. Nicole suggested using a video file format, such as QuickTime (.mov), instead of the PowerPoint Show format (.pps), because the QuickTime file format is more widely used on the Internet (Munstedt and Hennig). This would solve two problems with the current PowerPoint Show format: (1) for the audio portion of the slideshow to work, the user needs to download the corresponding audio file to the same folder as the PowerPoint Show file, (2) playback of the PowerPoint Show file on certain computers can be slightly out of sync with the audio. Also, the video file format could enable random access; markers could be embedded into the video file to provide seamless navigation to particular points in the score and sound file (for example, the beginning of a specific page or measure). This project has been demanding in terms of time and persistence. Manual input into notation software, although perhaps more efficient and practical than finding appropriate musicians to perform and engineers to record the music, is time consuming and requires specialized skills. Still, this type of manual work can be educational and even enjoyable, if not done in excessive amounts. More importantly, this project has been very rewarding in the sense that several limitations of digital music libraries have been identified and a solution suggested. The workflow and combination of software suggested, although by no means perfect, may be feasible for libraries to undertake, provided they have the staff, software and other resources necessary. Scott Salvaggio 10
  11. 11. Enhancing a Digital Sheet Music Collection Works Cited “Description of the Collection.” Inventions of Note Sheet Music Collection. 4 Oct. 2004. MIT Libraries. Lewis Music Library. 1 May 2006 <http://libraries.mit.edu/music/sheetmusic/infomusic.html> Dunn, Jon W., Mary Wallace Davidson, Jan R. Holloway, and Gerald Bernbom. “The Variations and Variations2 Digital Music Library Projects at Indiana University.” Jon W. Dunn: Professional Home Page. 5 March 2003. Indiana University Digital Library Program. 19 Apr. 2006 <http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/~jwd/varchapter.pdf> Munstedt, Peter. Personal Interview. 31 Mar. 2006. Munstedt, Peter, and Nicole Hennig. Personal Interview. 27 Apr. 2006. “Product Demonstration.” Grove Music Online. 1 May 2006 <http://www.grovemusic.com/grove-owned/music/walk_through.pdf> “Scorch.” Sibelius. 2006. 1 May 2006 <http://www.sibelius.com/products/ scorch/index.html Scott Salvaggio 11