all coded out

Here in Glasgow we’ve had a visit from Andrew Hankinson of the SIMSSA project at McGill University in Montréal. He’s been helping us implement search functionality and MEI into our web resource, which will live at So Luca and he were coding away behind me for days here in the bass culture office. In fact, it was difficult to get them to stop. On Friday night while we ate dinner, Andrew’s computer was running a script to convert to MEI nearly 2000 Sibelius files of tune incipits that had been carefully transcribed by Karens Marshalsay & McAulay, and this was the scene even outside the pub on Saturday night …

L-R: David McGuinness, Luca Guariento, Andrew Hankinson

L-R: David McGuinness, Luca Guariento, Andrew Hankinson

Here is a sneak preview of our website’s logo, as designed by Ewan MacPherson.

Sitting on the Fence: Where Musicologist Meets Music Librarian

We’ve reached the stage where we’re thinking about encoding our database.  From a happy place (spiritually speaking) where eighteenth century London-based publishers churned out English collections of Scottish tunes in St Paul’s Church Yard, casually pirating one another’s work as only a newly-copyright-conscious culture could do, Karen now finds herself reading online manuals about MEI, FRBR and RDA.

Karen Finds Her Inner Geek

As it happens, she has already encountered the general principles, if not the practice, of FRBR and RDA, so she decided to start by diving into the Music Encoding Initiative.  All was going well, making a reasonable amount of sense and generating some handwritten note-taking, when she decided to investigate printing out the MEI Guidelines so that she could use highlighter pen and generally make them her own.  At 745 pages, generously illustrated with chunks of XML coding, this now seems a bit excessive.  A marked-up pdf in Dropbox will be greener!  Musicologist met Music Librarian – and both were delighted – when it became apparent that Chapter 22 is devoted to encoding paratext. Paratext (prefaces, dedications, indices etc) aren’t music, so it’s recommended to use the MEI FRBR module which accomodates text (in the strict term) as opposed to music.

And there are still the joys of FRBR (Functional Requirements of Bibliographic Records) and RDA (Resource Description and Access) ahead of us!  Dear Fiddlers, these databases don’t just happen by magic, you know.  We’re so lucky to have Zoltan guiding us through the technicalities!

How far will we be delving into this enticing tome?!

 (Karen the musicologist can’t help but wonder what the publishers Wright, Walsh and Thompson would have made of all this ….)