The Maine Music Box
First Monday

The Maine Music Box by by Marilyn Lutz and Laura Gallucci


Abstract
The paper describes the Maine Music Box and examines its potential as a tool for teaching and learning music. Pedagogical concepts are demonstrated using MIDI, Scorch, image and streaming video files.

Contents

Introduction
Project goals
Sheet music collection
Creating a digital library instructional tool
Demonstration of music lessons
Conclusions
Maine Music Box

 


 

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Introduction

NOTE: Success in playing multimedia files noted in this paper is subject to browser variation.

The Maine Music Box is an interactive, multimedia digital music library. Users may view images of sheet music and scores, and playback associated sound renditions, view cover art and lyrics. Enhanced functions using a scorch plug–in enable users to playback audio and manipulate the arrangement of selected pieces by changing the key and instrumentation. A scorch file combines image and sound; the user hears computer generated sound and is able to follow a cursor that moves over an image of the music notation.

The Maine Music Box is built on a history of collaboration and common vision among Maine’s libraries. The impetus for the two–year project is a unique collaborative effort among academic, public and private libraries that demonstrates how the collections of one library can be enriched with the tools of information technologies from another. The resulting digital collection and services support and advance music education and the broad education mission of libraries. The Maine Music Box is funded in part by a grant from the Institute of Museums and Libraries (IMLS) (October 2002), and by matching funds from the partners: Fogler Library, University of Maine (Orono), The Bagaduce Music Lending Library (Blue Hill), and the Bangor Public Library (Bangor).

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Project goals

As a digitization project, one goal was to broaden access to the unique collections of sheet music, scores, and manuscripts. Another goal was to create preservation copies of the disintegrating paper scores. With digital scores in hand, the partners were interested in exploring how to create an online instructional tool with the potential to enrich the experience of music educators and students. The plan was to develop a digital music library tool that would deliver computer generated musical renditions along with images of sheet music or scores, and customizable options for user interaction: the ability to control playback, tempo, instrumentation, and key.

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Sheet music collection

The sheet music collection consists of approximately 22,000 pieces of historical and popular sheet music published and widely played from the mid–nineteenth century until approximately 1990. The strength of the collection is in music published between 1920 and late 1990. Most of the music is written for voice and piano; a significant minority is instrumental, "parlor salon" scores written specifically for piano. Notable in the collection are early pieces by Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern, as well as music by other popular composers such as Victor Herbert, Percy Wenrich, Jean Schwartz, Paul Dresser, Ernest R. Ball, Gussie L. Davis, Charles K. Harris, and George M. Cohan.

The collection documents the attitudes and tastes of American social life, popular culture and history through a variety of music types including blues music, sentimental, sacred and secular choral music songs, patriotic and political songs, songs from vaudeville and musicals, "Tin pan alley" songs, and songs from World War I. Also included are piano versions of marches, variations, opera excerpts, and dance music, such as waltzes, quick steps, mazurkas, polkas, etc. Cover illustrations represent an important, and in some cases almost unique, source of information for popular contemporary ideas on politics, patriotism, race, religion, love, and sentiment.

Collections at a glance

Parlor Salon Collection — over 3,000 scores composed, published and widely played from the mid–nineteenth century (pre–Civil War) until approximately World War I. It was performed in homes (parlors) and salons in intimate circles all over the world.

Maine Collection — over 2,200 pieces ranging from 1845–1997 and includes keyboard, choral, vocal, and instrumental music.

Haywood Jones Collection — 28 original manuscript scores of primarily marches and school songs, composed by Haywood Jones for local high school bands in Bangor and New England.

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Creating a digital library instructional tool

Very early on in the project we realized that changing the way in which educators approach the teaching of music, and affecting the way in which students learn was not going to be realized with a collection of digital sheet music scores. To do so necessitated access to a collection of music from a wide range of musical styles, types, and formats. In order to better understand the potential of the Maine Music Box, we enlisted support from music faculty, created a digital collection of short classical pieces for beginner students, as well as associated files in MIDI, Scorch and video formats (The International Library of Music for Violinists; First steps, with supplement of easy violin solos. Volume 1 The First Book, New York, The University Society, 1925).

An interactive educational channel provides a primitive (based on current instructional design) instruction tool keyed to the digital music library. The interface allows educators to select a list of music and design a lesson around it with specific assignment directions. The module is password–protected and provides access to music that is still under copyright and cannot be displayed in searches from the public interface.

One final project goal is to demonstrate the potential of a digital music library as a teaching and learning tool. Using the multimedia, teachers and students are able to:

  • Evaluate pitch and adjust speed by playing in union with sound
  • Develop sight–reading ability by tracking playback
  • Enhance visualization by transposing key signatures and chord symbols
  • Enlarge the repertoire by transposing music for one instrument to another.

Ultimately, the overarching lesson of the Maine Music Box is its potential to help students understand how changes in tempo and rhythm accent artistry by comparing computer–generated files with live music. Students arrive at a more comprehensive point in their musical training at a younger age.

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Demonstration of music lessons

The student logs in through the instructional channel and accesses the lessons the teacher has created. The subject of the lesson is the Pupilís concerto [Full score] No. V, Op. 22 by Friedrich Seitz. Access to the lessons reinforces what was learned during the in–person lesson, information that is often not retained by the student for more than a few days.

Lesson 1: The Music box assists the student’s learning in the following ways:

  • Listen to the midi file of piece with/without accompaniment
  • Listen to Scorch file of piece with/without accompaniment

Often beginner to Intermediate students do not have access to recordings of simple pieces they play, and often do not hear or ever play this level of piece with piano. The option to slow down tempo and observe dynamics aids in the learning process.

Lesson 2: Learn complex rhythms using Scorch files to "follow the bouncing ball" (Scorch file).

Lesson 3: Learn style and technique by viewing a performance (Quicktime movie).

Lesson 4: Transpose the piece to another instrument, the Viola. (Live demo w/scorch).

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Conclusions

The Maine Music Box has the potential to enhance the music education experience by providing simple interactive tools that students can access and use in between lessons. The ability to integrate visual cues, score manipulation, and playback for pieces of music relevant to their studies exposes the student to a broader view of music earlier in the course of study. Incorporation of these tools into the learning process holds promise for positive reinforcement and possibly even acceleration of overall learning.

The availability of an Instructional channel that combines software tools with scanned music files into one easy interface has implications for the delivery of online music education. The audiences to whom the instruction could be delivered, and the levels of learning for which this type of tool would be most effective, are areas ready for exploration. More research is needed as to how effectively an organized curriculum of instruction could be delivered. End of article

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Maine Music Box

http://mainemusicbox.library.umaine.edu

 

About the authors

Marilyn Lutz is the director for library information systems planning at the University of Maine. She authored and served as co–director for the Maine Music Box project.

Laura Gallucci is the systems manager for the University of Maine System Libraries. She is the Principal violist for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, and served as the pedagogical music advisor to the Maine Music Box project.

 


Editorial history

Paper received 4 April 2005; accepted 6 May 2005.
HTML markup: Susan Bochenski and Edward J. Valauskas; Editor: Edward J. Valauskas.


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Copyright ©2005, First Monday

Copyright ©2005, Marilyn Lutz and Laura Gallucci

The Maine Music Box by by Marilyn Lutz and Laura Gallucci
First Monday, Volume 10, Number 6 - 6 June 2005
http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1251/1171





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