I have a simple (yet sophisticated ) topic for discussion - should there be a series of structural changes in the website to accommodate and welcome a wider range of submissions other than classical, and if so, what would be the best way to approach this?
I am well aware that, technically, it is already possible to upload, for example, folk songs. However, I think that the current solutions are peripheral at best: to have a "composer" whose "name" is "Folk Songs, Chinese" and listed alphabetically under "0" might not seem awkward to someone who is used to IMSLP's workings, but it is undeniably a bit of a stretch for a newcomer, and has all the signs of a patched-up solution rather than a thought-out way of accommodating this music.
Looking up music by Genre gives a list so wide that it is difficult to navigate, for example if trying to distinguish folk music from other music amongst the plethora of genres thrown at the viewer. The other option of looking up music through "Time Period" produces a confusing mix of stylistic (baroque, romantic, etc) and temporal definitions (ancient, early 20th century, modern, etc) — with no clear place for folk music.
Would it be worthwhile to consider how one could create a new dimension within the already existing structure of scores on IMSLP to accommodate folk music? the characteristics of it being that:
— it may have been written any time in the last thousand years or more (there is folk music being written today, yet it is quite different in both character, notation, and style to contemporary classical music)
— it may have been written anywhere in the world, and there should be a way of categorising it geographically / culturally (with a lot of thinking for all the complications this will naturally entail, for rarely there are clear borders as one music influences another)
— a variation of the same tune may belong to many cultures, with no clear origin, and may bear "tags" (categories) of many countries
— folk music often belongs to an instrument (e.g. hardanger fiddle, penny whistle, etc)
— its notation may differ massively to western notation (e.g. shakuhachi, guzheng)
— it is music which differs to classical music in that it is often notated after the act, not before: it is more descriptive than prescriptive, and thus there is flexibility in interpretation (i.e. there can be many different arrangements of the same tune, none of which is the "original" one, and therefore sometimes there can *only* be arrangements of tunes as people have come to learn them, play them, and notate them from separate sources)
— that it is often key-less, meaning though it may be within a scale/mode, the specific key is transposable depending on who is playing it on what instrument and what range the singer can sing it at
— the author (especially in older music) is often unknown (e.g. mourning songs from Karelia), but some times it may be known (
I feel that, given the incredible momentum and reach that IMSLP has, it would be an incredible development to widen its reach to musics less conforming to a a system of archiving which is optimised for classical music — this wouldn't take anything away from the wealth of music which already exists on the collection, but will encourage and support people who want to share and contribute music which they might otherwise feel doesn't belong here. Again, I am aware that some folk music has been uploaded on the website, but I feel a structural change which is immediately visible and clear to visitors will engage a wider/new audience, and encourage people to not only contribute such material, but come here to seek it.
But IMSLP is not a one-man project, and so I'm curious to hear whether other members here have thought about this, and what these thoughts are
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