Monthly Archives: January 2011

IMSLP-EU ~ Report


IMSLP-EU is an autonomous initiative undertaken in Europe to allow European users to access scores that are public domain in Europe but not in the U.S. or Canada. This is possible because IMSLP-EU servers are physically located in Europe (currently, in The Netherlands), so scores that are in the public domain in such territory can be freely used by anybody. This would be beneficial for all users located in Europe and in other countries where similar copyright regulations apply.

IMSLP-EU is not affiliated with IMSLP, being a completely independent and autonomous initiative. Complete separation between IMSLP and IMSLP-EU is intended to avoid confusion between the respective roles, areas of competence, and applicable regulations: IMSLP follows U.S. and Canada regulations only, while IMSLP-EU follows EU regulations only (with reference to their specific application in The Netherlands).

The IMSLP-EU score catalogue is integrated within the Petrucci Music Library: there is no difference when searching IMSLP-EU scores with respect to IMSLP scores, as both sets are indexed in the catalogue of the library.

However, when a score at IMSLP-EU is going to be downloaded by a user, a special page is presented so as to inform and warn the user that he/she is leaving the IMSLP context and entering the IMSLP-EU context, where different regulations apply. The same special page provides a PayPal link for donations to IMSLP-EU: being completely autonomous with respect to IMSLP, IMSLP-EU needs independent funds to cover its operational expenses.

The start of operations of IMSLP-EU was announced on July 10, 2010. Here are some figures after 6 months:

  • Total uptime: 99.94%
  • Number of files downloaded: more than 820,000
  • Number of files present on the server: about 1,300
  • Average number of downloads per file: about 630
  • Largest number of downloads for a single file: more than 31,000 (the full score of “Pini di Roma” by Ottorino Respighi).

IMSLP Does Video

I suppose the title says it all.  In addition to pure audio recordings, which were introduced a few months ago, IMSLP now officially supports video recordings!  This idea was, in fact, of rather recent conception: the very nice video performances of pianist Marco Alejandro Gil Esteva recently submitted to IMSLP convinced me that the time is ripe for officially supporting video recordings.

So how does one submit video recordings?  The same thing one does to submit a normal audio file.  Simply upload the file using the “add audio/video file” links.  The video file formats currently permitted are AVI, MKV and MP4.

Happy recording!

“Steve’s Bedroom Band” – A Justification

By Matesic aka Steve Jones

I’m conscious of having contributed a disproportionate number of recordings to IMSLP lately (disproportionate to my musical ability, that is). Definitely not “performances”, because there’s only one player involved and the “cello” is a really a viola in digital drag, these are intended to be realizations in sound of just a few of the previously unrecorded scores that proliferate daily on this amazing site.

The printed notes are one thing, but how many of us are really able to “hear” scores in our head? To make matters worse, the majority of string chamber pieces are preserved not as scores (if a score was ever published) but as individual parts, calling for stupendous feats of simultaneous reading or memory. A sound picture is surely worth a thousand blobs on the page. Having got my head round the basics of the Audacity program and learnt how to play the viola in a variety of clefs (just the one for the violin), I couldn’t resist the temptation to “realize” some of the pieces that seemed to have little or no chance of performance, let alone recording, by professional musicians.

It’s a time-consuming business (Wilm’s nonet was something of an epic), but what astonishes me is how few of the pieces I’ve tried have ultimately struck me as not worth the effort. My top recommendations have to be the string quartets by Maximilian Steinberg (classmate of Stravinsky) and Alexis de Castillon. Amongst my countrymen I feel I should give a special plug to Henry Rowley Bishop, John Lodge Ellerton and George Alexander Macfarren, but the man who stimulates the most affection is the even more obscure Percy Hilder Miles, whose composing career seems to have stuttered and slowly died after he failed to win the hand of his pupil, Rebecca Clarke.  If only he’d managed to complete his cello concerto in time for the 1908 Proms…

Encouraged by certain of your editorial brethren (Eric, please stand up), my target for 2011 is to record and upload a “new” piece every week. For goodness sake don’t expect immaculate performances – just something that will give interested parties an impression of what the piece sounds like, hopefully without too many wrong notes and “train-crash” noises. There must be others out there who could do a similar thing for different sectors of the repertoire. Go on!

Server Upgrades

Just a quick note that I am currently in the process of upgrading one of IMSLP’s servers after the hard drive crash last November wiped out half a day of work on the wiki.  As a result, IMSLP users may experience slowness or even downtime in the next few days.  I will try to finish this upgrade in a week or two at the most.

This upgrade will only affect the wiki.  IMSLP users should carry on with normal activities on the wiki, as long as the wiki is accessible of course.

Update: The upgrade has finished, and everything should have returned to normal.  Please report any abnormalities to the forums.  Thank you.

Happy New Years, and a Reminiscence

Happy New Year, and a thank you to all IMSLP contributors and supporters for a wonderful 2010!

IMSLP has seen many changes in the past year, but unfortunately my busyness and laziness (not necessarily in that order) meant that many of those changes were introduced silently, unnoticed by many.  But I love records, especially of good things.  And so I’m taking this opportunity to make people read my ramblings, reminiscences, and rambling reminiscences.  (There is also the possibility that I just wanted to escape Perlnerd’s continued pesterings on the topic, but that’s all rumour.  Really.)

What is not rumour, however, is the fact that IMSLP now has more than 81,000 scores, of more than 33,000 works, by more than 4,700 composers.  So what happened along the way?

  • Last year started with a bang: after long hours playing who-blinks-first with my computer, the new Genre system was introduced.  This was a system designed to take over the world revolutionize how musicians search for music.  Gone were the days of rigid and inflexible cataloguing systems, replaced instead by a dynamic and necessity-driven system.  One can now realistically search 33,000+ musical works for all pieces played at funerals involving tubas (why this particular search is useful or even desirable is, however, an open question).  But this new system, unlike the previous one, required a significant commitment from IMSLP contributors: not only did the 20,000+ works on IMSLP at the time need to be re-categorized, but every newly created work also had to be manually categorized by a contributor in the know.  Fortunately, Davydov stepped up to head this categorization project, quickly followed by several other e-librarians.  Kudos!
  • Fast forward three months to the end of May.  The 61,000 scores on IMSLP at the time got lonely, so recordings were introduced to keep them company.  This seemed like a win/win proposition: the recordings made the scores more useful and the scores made sure people noticed the stray tuba line hidden away in some loud passage in a random symphony.  Ok, maybe that’s not the best example.  In any case, the 1,500+ recordings currently on IMSLP seem to agree having recordings is a good idea.
  • Several major performance improvements, notably in February, May and October/November. Nothing fancy on the surface, but all the tweaking helped IMSLP run (mostly) smoothly in the face of increasing traffic. Also kept my mailbox lean.  These improvements included moving the forums to a much stabler server administered by Choralia after several extended outages.
  • Several local IMSLP servers were introduced.  The IMSLP-EU server run by Choralia was introduced in July, and the IMSLP-US server run by Jdeperi was introduced in December.  These independent local servers help people from around the world access more of the musical public domain than ever before since IMSLP’s reorganization in 2008.  A big thank you to the two server administrators that made it happen!
  • This journal itself was launched by Philidor in October.  While still a newborn, I’m sure the journal will become a major source of news about IMSLP, and hopeful the music world in general, in this new year.
  • A major collaboration with the publishing firm Performer’s Edition was initiated in November.  Performer’s Edition provides high quality bound reprints of most IMSLP scores at very low prices to US-based users, a nice alternative to traditional reprints. Simply click the “Performer’s Edition” link in the corresponding file entry to check it out!
  • Last but not least, there were many small improvements and fixes to IMSLP that made IMSLP easier to use.  Take the popular files list (bet you didn’t know that one!) or the RSS/Atom feeds on the wiki Main Page for example.  (Note for the unwary: Debussy’s Clair de Lune for voice and piano currently #1 on the popular files list is not, in fact, related to his much more famous Clair de Lune for piano solo, hidden away in the Suite bergamasque.  Not that I’m complaining; I would find it awesome if the older Clair de Lune becomes the more famous one instead as a result of IMSLP.)

So what now?

Of course, I will be improving on current IMSLP features.  For example, today I tweaked the Genre browsing system to allow better browsing access to more obscure subgenres (simply click the [subgenres] link for the applicable genre).  Other changes to the IMSLP interface are also planned.

And like in 2010, we can expect a healthy growing library, and new collaborations and projects.  I can’t wait.

Edward (Feldmahler)

P.S.  Apologies to tubists…  😉