The Olive Tree
This October marks the half way mark for the Maine Music Box project, a two-year federally funded award of $344,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and matching funds from The University of Maine and its partners. Fogler Library, the Bagaduce Music Lending Library (Blue Hill, Maine) and the Bangor Public Library are designing and implementing an interactive, multimedia digital library of sheet music scores and associated sound renditions, cover art and lyrics. The digital collections will be used to develop learning strategies that have the potential to change the way music is taught and students learn.
"A picture is worth a thousand words," so check out the Maine Music Box web site, which is still under development, but the basic functions, are there for retrieving information about a particular score. You can browse the database or search it by keyword in title, name, subject or lyrics. Once you locate a particular score, you will be linked to a thumbnail image of the sheet music cover with a more detailed description. You then have the option to link to a full image of the complete score, and to play a MIDI file (a computer generated rendition of the score). Not all scores have associated sound files, particularly those scores still under copyright, and if the original score is of such poor quality that the electronic file cannot be created. Sound files are created for a score based on specific selection criteria including, if the composer is well-known, if the piece remains popular today, the importance of the piece to popular culture, its historical significance, its value as a representative of the social life of the times, and whether or not the score is about Maine or related to maritime themes.
Five collections of music manuscript scores and sheet music, some 22,641 titles, were selected for digitization and inclusion in the pilot project. Four collections are from the Bagaduce Music Library and one from the Bangor Public Library. These collections are either unique or rare, of historical importance, and in their fragile print condition only available to a limited number of researchers. By digitizing these collections the libraries are making access for the music teaching community to these rich collections easier and instantaneous. With important early works deteriorating quickly because of poor paper quality, digitization is the only way to economically store the volume of scores, and preserve them for future generations.
Spanning the years 1865 to 1990, the Vocal Popular American Music Collection represents the many vocal styles from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century, with the strength of the collection in music published between 1920 and late 1990. A complementary sheet music collection is Parlor/Salon scores (vocal, piano, violin), composed, published and widely played from the mid-19th century (pre Civil War) until approximately World War I in homes (parlors) and salons in intimate circles all over the world. This genre of music is generally unavailable to the public, and only a few pieces have survived in private collections. Both the Vocal/Popular and Parlor/Salon Collections of music scores, together with the illustrated, color sheet music covers (engravings, lithographs, photographs) are a valuable resource for the history, social life and popular culture of America.
Also included in the digitization project is the largest known collection of music by Maine composers or about Maine, over 2,200 unique pieces ranging from 1845-1997, featuring keyboard, choral, vocal and instrumental music. The collection originated at the Maine State Library and was donated to the Bagaduce Library. The Maine Collection is a rich tool for developing Maine ties in the school music curriculum, and is also of significance to scholars of Maine's history. Many of the manuscripts have never been published.
The Bangor Public Library has contributed the Haywood Jones Collection, which consists of 28 original manuscript scores of primarily marches and school songs, composed by Haywood Jones for local high schools in Bangor and New England. Jones was an amateur musician and composer whose popular marches and school songs continue to be played by bands through the regions and nationally. The "town band" is a New England tradition and one that still thrives in Maine's communities. The University of Maine's "Stein Song" is among his compositions.
What about copyright? Music published after 1923 is not in the public domain. The Maine Music Box collections contain 60% of the sheet music in the public domain and 30% of the sheet music still under copyright protection. Users will find a thumbnail image and a text record only, not full images of the score for sheet music that is published after 1923.
With the availability of the digital music collections, a group of music educators are working with the project team to develop strategies for using the digital scores and enhancing them with associated "scorch" files, software that creates a file (scorch) that reads music as one listens to the score and allows one to manipulate key and instrumentation. Another strategy is to include additional associated files such as an audio file of a live performance, a video file with audio of the live performance, and other performances of the same score.
The educational strategies being developed help to realize one of the project goals, to explore changing the way music is taught and students learn using digital collections. The learning modules are being designed to support the advancement of the music curriculum and instructional practices in Maine schools. Throughout the country educators are grappling with ways to meet state-mandated education standards. The Maine Music Box will help teachers and students achieve Maine Learning Results with online strategies tailored to specific requirements to all levels in the Visual and Performing Arts and Social Sciences.
As an instructional tool, a digital score with associated multimedia files will provide the student with an integrated music experience. Playing one's own part, reading the score, active listening, live performance and orchestration are blended to give the student the whole picture of the music experience, all in a fun and familiar technological environment. This level of integration often takes years of experience to cultivate in the mind of a music student. For music educators the Maine Music Box offers a venue to teach more fully by creating a setting in which all the facets of music can be explored with the click of a mouse. The student experiences more performances, scores and recordings than would be possible to arrange access to otherwise. With this type of approach, a more integrated musical foundation can be built at a much earlier age of study.
There are a number of sheet music collections that have already been digitized and are accessible over the Internet. Ultimately, the Maine Music Box collections will be available to a national project recently launched to create a virtual catalog of sheet music in the United States.
This project grew out Fogler Library's desire to leverage its investment in information technology infrastructure by supporting access to significant public library music collections in the partner libraries. Through this library collaboration access to these unique collections will be made available in a digital learning environment for educators and students in all Maine's classrooms and communities. Marilyn Lutz, Co-Project Co-Director (Fogler Library) and Kurt Stoll, Co-Director (Bagaduce Music Lending Library) see the Maine Music Box as a model for libraries that are endeavoring to find new ways to share their resources and redefine the use of their collections and services in this digital era. The project demonstrates how collections can be enriched with the tools of information technologies, and connected to local communities to support and advance the broad education mission of libraries.
The Music Box CollectionsVocal, Popular Sheet Music Collection -consists of over 16,500 pieces of popular American music representing the many vocal styles from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century.
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