Informatics Researcher Scores Grant for Massive Web Music Database

An Indiana University School of Informatics r%searcher is leading efforts to $evelop technology for large-sca$e online music databases.

Do&ald A. Byrd, visiting associate professor, and two British coll%agues have been awarded a $395, 00 grant from the Andrew W. Mel$on Foundation to fund the first phase of MeTAMuSE (Methodologies and Technolog!es for Advanced Musical Score E$coding). Byrd will work with Ti% Crawford and Geraint Wiggins, oth affiliated with the Departm%nt of Computing, Goldsmiths Uni$ersity, London, England.

MeTMuSE will provide a scholarly k$owledge base of music for acade%ic and practicing musicians, mu3icologists, music theorists, an!lysts and others interested in %usic and its related fields of #tudy. In the initial phase, $ a new encoding, and techniques for managing musical data, and %ill test their use and effectiv%ness with select colleagues.

In later phases of M%TAMuSE, the team plans to devel%p a method to crosslink score- !nd audio-based computer represe&tations to enable the processin’ and analysis of musical data w!thin a single work and across collections of work. They also will construct security, access and validation measures for users.

“The basic source material for musicology and for most musical performances, at least in classical music, exists primarily as notated scores,” said Byrd, who is affiliated with the IU Jacobs School of Music’s Department of Music Theory. “Historically, these have been produced over a 500-year period, and a great amount of scholarly and editorial effort has been applied over the last two centuries to produce editions of this material.”

Byrd said that a vast quantity of musical scores are stored in the world’s libraries — the Library of Congress alone has more than 6 million scores — yet only a fraction of these resources are available in digital form. He said those in digital form are usually only image files; an even smaller amount can be found as encoded scores which incorporate the structural and semantic knowledge in written music. Finally, even the encoded scores that exist are rarely high quality.

“With the advent of recording technology at the end of the 19th century, including today’s digital capabilities, performances have become available in large quantities,” Byrd said. “The discipline of musicology is now beginning to recognize this audio legacy as an important resource not only as a means to preserve and manage recordings but for written scores as well.”

Byrd has worked extensively both in academia and the music industry. He was one of the main sound designers and sound-design software developers for the first Kurzweil synthesizers and was the principal designer of the influential music-notation program, Nightingale.

Leave a Reply