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What’s a duplicate?

March 15, 2011 2 comments

As we are going through the boxes, we are identifying duplicates, the idea being that we do not need two identical copies of the same item. But what is ‘the same’? It may seem obvious at first – if it is the same piece of music it is a duplicate. But what if it is a different edition, where some changes (may) have been done to the music? Well, then it is not an identical copy and thus not a duplicate. But what if the music is the same but the cover differs?

We have taken the view here that if the cover is different, the items are not duplicates, even if the music would sound identical irrespective of what copy you play it from. The reasoning behind this is that these items are not only music scores. The actual physical copies are interesting, and variations there can very well be of interest to someone researching the genre or period.

The differences between two versions of a score can be quite obvious, like the Valentine Galop pictured here.Different covers for Valentine Galop The covers look different – one has an illustration while the other uses different fonts in a decorative way – which may make it less obvious that this is actually the same music. It is the same composer (although called M Relle on one cover and Moritz Relle on the other), but the title is slightly different (St Valentine’s Galop vs Valentine Galop). It is only by looking at the actual music notation that we will know if it is the same piece. In this case it is easy to motivate scanning both copies, since there is so much to look at and compare for someone researching the area.

In other cases, duplicates may be less obvious. It may be that the cover looks very similar, but a closer inspection reveals small differences, for example that the advertisements on the back are different or that the list of titles in the series contains different number of items. If these were to be considered duplicates, which one should be scanned? Who should decide that one set of adverts is more important or interesting than another? We have refrained from making that decision and are instead scanning both copies in cases like these. This will allow different kinds of research on the material. The actual number of near-duplicate scores is fairly low, so seen in the grand scheme of things scanning the near-duplicates it is a small extra. Having them does however also allow a further interesting use, namely for quality assurance. Having the same title described twice will allow us to make comparisons between the different descriptions and see in what way they differ (if at all). That will help us understand how much variation we should expect in the descriptions that we are getting. There are other ways this quality assurance can be performed, and we will be using various methods to get material that is truly useful for those who wish to make use of it.

FIRE!

Some of the boxes containing our scores

Some of the boxes containing our scores

As we were working away on our boxes (I had just finished counting no 39 of 64), we heard the fire alarm. After a short while it became obvious that this was not a test or brief error but the bell was chiming steadily and we had no option but to leave the building. I hated doing that – leaving all our boxes behind. What if it really WAS a fire? What would happen to my galops and waltzes and beautiful covers? I had to fight an urge to carry them all with me – I didn’t even take the Wedding Valse. What shall I now do if I come back and discover it is all in cinder? At least I have some photographs to remind me of what the boxes looked like…

On a more serious note, although this incidence turned out not to be a real fire, it highlights how important digitisation really is. By digitising material we will be able to use it and rejoice in what it has to offer even if we cannot access the original physical copies.

Categories: project progress Tags: ,

Galops

While going through the boxes of scores I’ve seen a lot of ‘gallops’ and ‘galops’. Wikipedia says: “the galop, named after the fastest running gait of a horse … is a lively country dance, introduced in the late 1820s to Parisian society by the Duchesse de Berry and popular in Vienna, Berlin and London.”

Cover from one galop piece

One of many galops

Our music is considerably younger than 1820, so it seem the dance remained in vogue. Or perhaps only became popular and played in the home later on?

Some examples of the galop dance can be found online (for example on YouTube). Even if the music is not from our collection (as far as we know yet, anyway), I think these films really help us imagine what it would have been like when people were dancing galops.

Galops were not only dance music or ‘simple’ music but many well-known composers have written galops, including Johann Strauss II, Dmitri Shostakovich and Franz Liszt. Listen to his Grand Galop chromatique played by Valentina Lisitsa (YouTube).

The Devil’s Galop may be familiar to many of us, as it was used in many TV series, including Dad’s Army, The Goodies, the Goon Show, Monty Python and more recently in Mitchell and Webb’s The Surprising Adventures of Sir Digby Chicken-Caesar sketches. This 30 second sample, featuring the The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, may serve as a reminder or introduction.

Categories: related topics Tags: ,

Covers

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

This is the first time I get a really good look at the material. What strikes me at once is the covers. Many of the pamphlets have colourful cover illustrations, usually something that relates to the title of the piece of music.
Cover for scores 'Fancy Ball'
Some depict people in ‘exotic’ dress, or involved in some special pursuit, such as a fancy ball.

Cover for Bird's Nest Polka

Bird's Nest Polka

Scenes from nature are also frequent – either scenic views or some particular element, like a bird’s nest.

Cover for Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Some covers give a good idea of the fashion of the time – pictures of women in dresses and men with exquisite neck ties and perhaps a little moustache. Or men in uniform – there’s quite a few of those.

What I really like about all these covers is that not only are they pretty and interesting but they are REAL – they are not reproductions made to look like something from a different time. These are just like they would have looked when someone in the late 19th bought the score and took it home. Was it because of the cover that a particular piece  was chosen? We’ll never know, but we can enjoy looking at them all the same.

Categories: sample scores Tags: , ,

Counting boxes

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m really excited – we’ve started working on the actual material that will be included in the pilot phase.

64 boxes with piano music. The scores are arranged in the boxes in alphabetical order by composer and each box has the information ‘Piano scores Macmillan – Mozart’ or similar. Other than that we do not know what is hiding in the collection. For example, how many difference pieces are there?

Project manager labelling boxes and counting scores.

Counting boxes

Our first job is to prepare the material to be scanned. The boxes are retrieved from their storage and we open them and count the number of items. Fragile items are placed in plastic sleeves and we keep a tally of how many there are. We also look for duplicates and note which one is to be scanned (the project resources are better used for other purposes than scanning identical items twice). All this is recorded so that both we and the people doing the actual scanning know what we are working with.

Once all the scores have been counted and recorded, the boxes will be taken away for the content to be scanned.

Categories: project progress Tags: ,
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