internet music publishing
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Incalcando Contemporary Music Publishing - www.incalcando.com
(Sebastian Lexer and John Lely)
Incalcando Contemporary Music Publishing, or ICMP, is the brainchild of Sebastian Lexer, a Masters student at Goldsmiths College, London. He founded the site around two years ago, with the aim of setting up an independent and very specialised publishing company for experimental contemporary music. This coincided with the release of Sibelius for Windows, and the site uses the Sibelius 'Scorch' browser plugin, allowing prospective clients to read the scores before choosing a purchase. The scores are also available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format for users of other operating systems (including Linux). As interest in the site continued to grow, he then teamed up with John Lely, also a Masters student at Goldsmiths, and together they manage the creation and preparation of scores and their incorporation into the site. John describes the purposes which unite the site and its participating composers:
The site was supported from its beginnings by the composer Dave Smith, whose roots lie in the UK experimental music tradition. Dave is a close friend of John Tilbury, and a visiting lecturer at Goldsmiths College, where he met Sebastian and John. Indeed part of the feeling of community behind the site is due to the fact that most of the works published are by young composers currently based at Goldsmiths, a college renowned for artists working in experimental media. The name Incalcando means "warming up the voice", a musical term which Sebastian found in the Oxford Music Dictionary and felt was apt in conveying the interests of the site.
John Lely describes the advantages of releasing music in an electronic medium, which allow Incalcando to bypass the commercial restrictions of the larger publishing houses, where experimental music would normally be seen as unviable:
Sebastian discusses further the limited returns to a composer signed to a larger publishing house, where restrictions may be made on outside collaboration as well as upon style. His aim is to keep overheads low through using internet media, enabling a much greater return to the composer:
The emphasis of the site is on quality rather than quantity of music, and in contrast to the many sites such as mp3.com which allow any internet user to upload music, Incalcando concentrates on selectivity in order to maintain its aims to produce contemporary music of international quality. The next stage of development for ICMP will include the establishment of a selection panel, featuring amongst others the experimental musician and composer Dave Smith, one of the original supporters of the site, as well as composer Roger Redgate and pianist and contemporary music specialist John Tilbury. The panel will function to decide on the inclusion of submitted scores, in order to continue the site's emphasis on quality, as well as freeing Sebastian and John to concentrate on maintaining the website and approaching new composers. While many of the works could be classified as falling into the category of "new complexity", they maintain that there is no stylistic restriction upon the composers who participate, beyond that of promoting the development of experimental contemporary music. At present the selection of works is left to the participating composers, in the knowledge that they will want to put forward their best music for public release.
The database at the heart of the Incalcando site is fully searchable by any category, including composer, name of work, its instrumentation and duration. Sebastian Lexer describes the process which led him to be hand-coding the dynamic pages of the database in PHP, run from a UNIX server:
His ISP reccomended that he use PHP with MySQL, and although this took him around 3 months to learn how to hand-code the pages, it has resulted in a database which is "incredibly fast" to load and enables a client to search by any category that may be required in programming a concert.
The Scorch plugin allows a user to view the entire document before purchase. The permissions on the plugin are locked so that it may only be downloaded once the score has been paid for. Sebastian describes the experience as being similiar to being in a music shop, "you can flick through the score, decide you like it and then buy".
The site has attracted a lot of interest nationally, and to a certain extent internationally, as Sebastian is originally from Germany; with most of the interest so far coming from other composers. Sebastian and John have further plans for Incalcando, with the possibility of setting up associated sites to promote their current work in programming MAX patches, as well as John Lely's Cardew resource page. Later in February Mstation will be talking again to Sebastian and John as they present their work in MAX at the Goldsmiths College EMS Research Conference "Composing Sound: Issues in Sound Art and Electroacoustic Music".
The Choral Public Domain Library (Rafael Ornes) - www.cpdl.org
Rafael Ornes established the Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL) in December 1998 with the idea that open source concepts used in software could work in much the same way for modern editions of public domain works.He is a big fan of Linux and is a system administrator in addition to being a choral director. In contrast to the specialisation of Incalcando, the emphasis of his site is upon openness, and upon making choral music readily available to the public in a form which may then be immediately downloaded and used for performance. His focus is primarily upon choral music:
While being very fond of Linux, Rafael maintains the importance of working with a vareity of systems and software packages in order to make his work more widely accessible:
The open source - like principles of the project mean that the music of the Choral Public Domain Library has made its music accessible to many users for whom the cost of purchasing sufficient copies of conventionally published sheet music would be forbidding. Indeed, costs become extremely high when involving large choral ensembles, and here again, the fact that the music may be downloaded on an individual basis rather than printed on paper and distributed has allowed its performance to become affordable. He speaks about the positive feedback which the site, a member of the Free Sheet Music webring, receives on a daily basis:
Yet indeed these principles provide a fascinating insight into the establishment of a musical community where making music openly available is facilitating performances of new works and allowing the enjoyment of choral music to reach a wider audience.
Musica Viva (Frank Norberg) - www.musicaviva.com
Musica Viva is another website which offers free downloads of sheet music, although maintaining a commercial interest alongside the free network in order to support its composers and editors. Frank Norberg writes about the origins of the site and its purposes: