MERLOT Conference presentation

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MERLOT Conference presentation

Postby pml » Wed Sep 02, 2009 11:41 pm

Congratulations Feldmahler on a job well done - a pity we didn't get to see some more of the really special stuff that is not easily found elsewhere, and thus uniquely IMSLP...

(I'd also suggest having some water to hand the next time you give this talk, it sounded as though your voice was getting quite tired towards the end.)

Rather than the discursive trip into the public domain and copyright I would have liked one particular point teased out for the educators, and that is the dramatic lowering of the cost of entry for study purposes. Say a senior music history class is making a study of one of the Beethoven symphonies; it's rare to find a school or uni library with say a class set (25 copies) of the Pastoral symphony, no. 6. Probably there would be about 5 or 10 copies being shared one between four or five. Not so with IMSLP; everyone can download a copy to their laptop or home PC, though paper copies are still somewhat indispensable in terms of convenience and portability.

I did especially like your comment about "attacking the public domain" being equivalent to stealing books from kids - good to hear some of the positive audience reaction here and elsewhere!

The economics of music publishing of the traditional paper kind make certain types of musical score relatively expensive, full scores especially - which is why you see numerous music textbooks which comprise a whole volume or two just of sources alone, e.g. the Norton scores, which after rushing through most of the common era (prior to 1700!) includes in the remainder of volume 1 major snippets of Vivaldi, Handel, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, before handling a mixed bag of the 19th and 20th centuries in volume 2.

The same thing goes for performance parts of ensemble works - these are sometimes quite expensive as the logistics usually involves small-ish print runs of numerous fiddly items, so the investment required to purchase a full set is probably doubtful for a range of schools with small musical resources; the IMSLP parts project will no doubt allow a number of ensembles to be more adventurous in their repertoire choices, because the risk of spending a lot of money on something that doesn't turn out to be usable is much reduced.

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Re: MERLOT Conference presentation

Postby steltz » Thu Sep 03, 2009 5:17 am

Another aspect which I suspect comes up far more rarely, but here's my two cents:

Annually, I run a chamber music course for talented high school students, and for the past 19 years, we have relied on my university library. I'm the person who has to divide the kids into groups and get repertoire for them. The dividing part is not difficult, my colleagues can help me with who is at which level, but one of the hard things is that there is always what I have to refer to as the "leftovers". They aren't left over in terms of quality, but in terms of instrumentation. It's like you've divided it up as best you can, and you can't avoid having one group consisting of 3 flutes, 1 trumpet, 1 cello, and a zither. I might be able to find repertoire for this, but by this time it's too late to order it for the library and get it there in time.

This year we made extensive use of IMSLP, and what a difference! Instantly, we have hundreds if not thousands more pieces to choose from.

I've also asked the coaches to trawl IMSLP and put things they might use on flash disks. It's like taking a whole library with you! (The course is out of town, so we are no where near a library once we get there.) We don't print a piece unless we actually use it, but it's there in case, and there have been times when we choose pieces that are either too easy or too hard, and it's nice to be able to whip something else out instantly. A flash disk, a laptop and a printer, and we have a portable library that we take with us. Marvelous!!!
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