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…  😉

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