Multimedia Publication Tools for Musicology

Standardize the original formats of multimedia publications on music

This work aims to experiment with, and in some cases, standardize the original formats of multimedia publications on music. One can argue that any analytic discourse on music contains a potential ‘multimedia’ aspect, as it includes a text (the oral commentary) and indicators for musical information (e.g. citations of musical examples, references to movements or passages in a work, etc.). Even so, it is not until recently that musicologists became interested in the new expressive possibilities of multimedia publication, online and on other physical supports that were limited to educational and cultural CD-ROMs until recently.

Project Description

We have begun a two-step process in order to contribute to this process.

Firstly, the experimentation carried out consists of producing various musicological analyses in a multimedia environment, specifying as we go along the environment chosen according to the steps carried out in the analysis. This experimentation materializes itself via the development of analysis tools developed in collaboration with musicologists (e.g. Charting the Score: A Tool for "Segmented Listening" in collaboration with Jonathan Goldman) and also through the publication of multimedia documents, on DvD-ROM (such as those included in the Inouï, the IRCAM 2005 and 2006 journal) and in online magazines such as DEMeter (Université de Lille-3) or Musimédiane—an audiovisual and multimedia music analysis journal.

Secondly, using a process of comparison and abstraction we will carry out a formalization of the analytic operations brought into play. This enables standardization of publication formats using text, sound, and image—not only for the specific needs of musicologists, but also for disciplines that are close to music publication found within the institutional projects carried out at IRCAM (e.g. the revamping of the Brahms database, the creation of the IRCAM repertoire, software documentation).

The issues are those of documenting: using a well-defined format (to facilitate the processing of the information) but one that is not overly restrictive for others; joining visual and sonorous musical excerpts together; making several types of publication possible (online, a CD-ROM, a DvD-ROM, paper). In order to do this, and given the sheer number of commands involved by these projects, it is unfeasible to depend on a manual layout of the data provided by authors for each publication.  A tool dedicated to these types of publications must be used to integrate the aforementioned constraints. This was the focus of our participation in ECOUTE (Authoring environment for instrumental music listening, sound archive management, and multi-support publication) supported by the RIAM program and the RNTL Scenariplatform project.

The sum of these actions has already made it possible to establish a publication format for musical analysis. This format was first tested in a model of online classes for the European project MusicWeb in 2003 and in a scientific publication on the analysis of a performance in 2005. The format was finally formalized with the production of a series of CD-ROMs associated with the Musique Lab 2 project featuring the variationen op. 27 by Webern and Voi(rex) by Philippe Leroux (2006-2007) as a part of an agreement between IRCAM and the Provence Alpes Côte-d’Azur region. These CD-ROMs offered two different ways to address the work:

  • The first introduces the work by letting the user read the score as they are listening. The score was annotated with a few contextual elements.
  • The second offers several analytic points of view on the work. Each position leads, via a hypermedia link, to key passages in the score annotated by the author via the Musique Lab Annotation software program. The contents were produced entirely by the author using the Scenari-CHAIN authoring tool and the Musique Lab software package.

IRCAM's Team: Analysis of Musical Practices team.

  • logo Ircam