All posts by feldmahler

IMSLP for the Public Domain: Golan Brief Submitted

I’m happy to report that the amicus brief announced a few weeks ago, where IMSLP asks the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the restoration of certain copyrights including that of Shostakovich, has been submitted to the Supreme Court.  The entire brief is available for public viewing along with the other amicus briefs submitted, all of which can be found in the Supreme Court case file.

Currently only briefs supporting Golan have been submitted. The Government’s brief in opposition, and amicus briefs supporting the Government or neither party, will be available later in August.  The Supreme Court has set the date for oral argument to be Wednesday, October 5th, 2011.

This excellent amicus brief is the result of the hard work of a very bright group of Harvard Law School students supervised by Professor Charles Nesson.  I want to thank them on behalf of all IMSLP contributors and users for their dedication and energy, especially in the face of a very tight deadline.  Here is a list of students who participated in writing the brief:

Phillip Hill (HLS ’13) (Project Leader)
Matt Becker (HLS ’13)
Ruchi Desai (HLS ’13)
Tim Grayson (HLS ’13)
Jeff Habenicht (HLS ’13)
Laura Hill (HLS ’13)
Shira Hoffman (HLS ’13)
Wes Lewis (HLS ’13)
Nathan Lovejoy (HLS ’13)
Joey Seiler (HLS ’12)
Ellen Shapiro (HLS ’13)
David Simon (HLS LL.M. ’11)
George Tsivin (HLS ’13)
Huaou Yan (HLS ’13)

Golan v. Holder: Should Shostakovich be Public Domain?

I am happy to announce that IMSLP will be submitting an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Golan v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of copyright restoration under Section 514 of the URAA.  A group of Harvard Law School students led by Phillip Hill (HLS ’13) and supervised by Professor Charles Nesson will be representing IMSLP.

IMSLP will be supporting the petitioners, which includes a group of orchestra conductors, educators, performers, film archivists, and motion picture distributors.  If we prevail and URAA § 514 is struck down as unconstitutional, all of Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Stravinsky (among others) will be public domain in the U.S., and potentially available on IMSLP.

In fact, the music of these three composers was public domain before URAA § 514 restored copyright in 1995.  This restoration is very dangerous precedent: Congress believes it has the power to usurp the public domain for the benefit of a few copyright holders, despite the Constitution limiting copyright to “limited Times”.  This limitation would seem meaningless if Congress could restore copyright whenever it wants.  If we allow URAA § 514 to stand, we would be one big step closer to perpetual copyright.

Furthermore, URAA § 514 also tramples on the right to freedom of speech of all artists who relied on these works before the copyright was restored, by forcing them to retract and make unavailable derivative works that were created legally.

IMSLP greatly welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision to take up such an important case, and hope to see an affirmation of the strength and vitality of the public domain.

Introducing an IMSLP Intern

It is my pleasure to introduce Cory Myers, who will be interning for IMSLP this summer.  Cory is currently a student at Deep Springs College, and his internship will focus on several major site redesign projects.  Specifically, the projects include a new tabbing system to alleviate overcrowding on work pages, an embedded audio/video streaming system, and possibly other smaller improvements around the site.

Please welcome Cory to the IMSLP community!  If you have any comments or suggestions, please post them below.

A New Genre Search

I would like to notify IMSLP users about the otherwise unannounced new genre search function, which can be found at the top of the genre page.  With this new feature you can search all of the genre/instrumentation categories for certain keywords.

For example, searching “voice clarinet” would find all the different available instrumentations that include at least one voice and one clarinet.  This also works for genres: searching “symphonies” would find all work types that contain the word “symphonies”.  Note that all work types are plural; searching “symphony” will not work.

The “Depth” column simply shows the level (depth) at which the category is found in the genre tree; normal users can safely ignore it.

While this feature might not be ground breaking, it may prove a useful tool.  All comments and suggestions welcome.

Introducing IMSLP Music Search

IMSLP is happy to announce the launch of IMSLP Music Search, the perfect way to find where that melody stuck in your head came from (among other more mundane things like actually doing music research).  You can access IMSLP Music Search via this page.

IMSLP Music Search was programmed by mathematician-musician Vladimir Viro, and is based on his Music NGram algorithm.  Vladimir will also be writing a more detailed blog post about the Music Search in the upcoming days, so stay tuned!

IMSLP’s 5 Year Anniversary

Five years ago today, there was a tiny blip in the cosmos of the Internet as an awkwardly-named website made its first appearance.  It had no logo, and a main page befitting its humble birth.

This website is now five years old, and hosts one of the largest collections of music scores in the world.  It has more than 85,000 scores written by 4,800 composers, and a fledgling recording collection consisting of more than 1,700 recordings.  All this was made possible by the countless hours of contributions by musicians and music enthusiasts.

As a musician myself, I would like to thank these contributors.

I will not dwell at length here.  Most of the recent updates on the status of the project can be found in my New Years post.  I would, however, like to mention a few recent developments:

  • I first want to congratulate the MuseScore team on the successful recent release of MuseScore 1.0, possibly the best open source music typesetting software ever written.  IMSLP may add support for MuseScore files in the near future.

  • I also want to announce the availability of IMSLP anniversary merchandise from the Puffin Point store.  Currently there is only the mug, but the store can certainly add products if there is interest.

  • And last but not least, a shout-out to IMSLP contributor Philidor and his friend for creating the beautiful anniversary banner you see at the top of this page.

Happy birthday, IMSLP!

Edward W. Guo
Project Leader, IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library

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!

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…  😉

A Greeting and Request for Comments

Hi everyone!  I’m Edward Guo, otherwise known as Feldmahler on the library wiki.  Since I’m the project leader and lead programmer for IMSLP, I will be blogging here about new IMSLP features and other project-related news.  I love comments of all sorts, so please feel free to praise and/or complain about IMSLP in the comments section of my posts!

But before I start blogging about IMSLP features, I’d like to extend an invitation to all of you to tell us any ideas you have about improving IMSLP.  I am perennially open to suggestions of all sorts, so fire away any time!  You can either post in the comments section of this blog post, or open a new thread in the “Feature Requests” section of the forums.  Particularly, IMSLP is looking for the following:

  • New features or feature improvements on any aspect of the wiki
  • Design ideas/mockups to account for new features and improve the overall feel of the site, especially for the more prominent pages (e.g. the main page), or the templates used on the work pages (e.g. for the file entries themselves).  The focus here I think is twofold: simplicity and intuitiveness.  Mediawiki-style is markup preferred but not necessary.
  • A new (and simpler) logo!

But even if your idea does not fall into one of these categories please do feel free to post it!  These categories are just intended as starting points for thinking about improving IMSLP.

And as some contributors already know, I adopt a “try it out” stance to pretty much any idea that a contributor comes up with, unless there is a clear reason otherwise (in which case one of the IMSLP administrators will tell you).  You are encouraged to tell us about your ideas, and also greatly encouraged to try the idea out yourself.  There are only two exceptions to this rule: (1) if you are very new to IMSLP, and (2) if the change is a hard to reverse or very big change, in which case you should discuss the change with us on the forums before going ahead with it.

Remember: IMSLP is not a website; it is a community of music lovers.  IMSLP needs you to make it a wonderful and lasting resource!