LS-598 #1: intro

This is my final semester at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama.

For my final credits, I'll be researching the digital encoding of symbolic music representation (SMR), i.e. "sheet music", its background, and the benefits it offers over simply thinking of SMR as an image – all within the context of libraries, including avenues of web-based delivery, preservation and metadata, and search and retrieval technologies. My research will be directed by Dr. Steven MacCall.

In addition to a paper addressing these issues, I'm required to deliver what is essentially a "demo" of a MusicXML web-based delivery system that could serve to demonstrate to librarians the possibilities that arise with the usage of XML-encoded musical information.

I'll be blogging along this semester as part of a modular approach to constructing the paper. Currently, I'm plugging away at the demo which utilizes open-source server-side music applications.

The first idea behind the demo is that one could "drop" MusicXML documents on their server and – via automation – PDF, audio, and preliminary Dublin Core metadata are generated. So far, I've got all that covered but I need to polish the output and I really need to comment-up my PHP code as I'm even forgetting at times what I've done and why. I'll be sharing the code as well as the XSL transformations that are used to generate the Dublin Core metadata from the MusicXML documents.

As time allows, I'll try and add some cool features. For example, this week I implemented libmusicxml so that the user can generate a PDF of a musical score in a different key than the original. I'm guessing this is the same way that the Wikifonia site offers this transposition option. I'll have to ask them to make sure.

The second idea behind the demo is to implement a search/retrieval mechanism using XQuery. This will prove the biggest challenge as I don't know XQuery well, but I have some excellent sources on querying MusicXML documents from which I can learn. Implementing XQuery on the site has – for the most part – already been dealt with in terms of scripting. In other words, the hard, hard work is done in terms of the demo, but I'm not quite there yet …

ps: Unfortunately, the server-side software required to run the demo can't be added to a free server like the one I use for this blog. But while I can't host the demo, I will at the end of the semester offer it as a download-able package so that one can run it on their personal computer as server.


This blog post is part of a semester-long investigation into digital encoding of symbolic music representation (SMR), its context in libraries, web-based delivery, preservation and metadata, and search and retrieval technologies.

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