A-R Editions' Online Music Anthology.
A-R Editions' Online Music Anthology is a Web-based compilation of scores edited and presented for the express purpose of providing source texts for courses in music history. (13) It is, by no means, a substitute for purchases of individual scores in the music library, but rather a substitute for anthology purchases and a supplement to monument collections. The database currently contains 425 vocal and instrumental works--over 3,000 pages--including titles from the print versions of A-R's Recent Researches series and some American Institute of Musicology series, as well as additional titles in similar veins. (14) With a recent move to institutional subscriptions, A-R has geared this resource toward a wider audience and given libraries an opportunity to combat problems of textbook affordability and inflexibility for music students.
The Anthology currently contains selected pieces of music from antiquity through the romantic era, with the greatest emphasis on the common practice period. Plans are afoot to acid almost 250 additional [18.sup.th] - and [19.sup.th]-century works in the near future, and A-R has begun discussing the inclusion of [20.sup.th]-century titles as well. Pieces are selected with an eye toward replacing print anthologies traditionally used for music survey courses. Feedback from musicologists indicates that this is a practical strategy thus far; a 2010 review of the Anthology in the Journal of Music History Pedagogy presents Dane Heuchemer's cogent assessment of the benefits and limitations of using the Anthology in teaching music history, and includes a positive assessment of the correlation between the scores currently used in the review author's survey on medieval and Renaissance music and the contents of the Anthology. (15) The collection has grown since this assessment, so one would expect even higher correlation today.
Each piece in the collection is presented as new editions with modern clefs while editorial changes such as transpositions are noted. Many of these pieces have previously appeared in print versions of A-R series, and while information about the series is on the bottom of each score's first page (when relevant), this information is not available when browsing the database, nor is this searchable information. To music librarians and musicologists, the A-R brand is a familiar and trusted one that has depended on known scholars to serve as editors. Others visiting the site might not find the publisher as familiar, but they can see who edited each piece on the first page of the score. As with the series title, this information could be more helpful if it were included in the metadata about each piece and searchable.
Compositions included in the Anthology represent a wide variety of genres that are indexed with impressive granularity. Some works are presented in their entirety while many larger works are represented only by selections. For instance, one may find all of Brahms's Fourth Symphony (as four separate files, one for each movement) but only the first and second movements of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony. Likewise, there are lew complete operas included; rather, most operas here are represented by selections that range front arias and scenes to full acts. Smaller works are more likely to be included in their entirety. and excerpts are chosen with care.
The comprehensiveness--or lack thereof--of the database's coverage is a reflection of the purpose of this source, and it is an important distinction that should he emphasized when marketing the Anthology to patrons. As with A-R's print series, coverage is not exhaustive by composer or genre but rather representative. with the goal of presenting a sampling of several composers' works over time. While this approach is similar to that of traditional monuments of music and study anthologies in the print environment, moving away from the "wrapper" of the individual volumes in such a series makes it easy for the user to forget the monuments approach through which one might. expect to see more extensive lists for each composer. It would behoove librarians "selling" this to their patrons to encourage them to think of it as a substitute for anthologies. not as a parallel to services that aim fin: more comprehensive coverage. The Online Musir Anthology does not have the scope of a product like Alexander Street Press's Classical Score Librars, but this scope is exchanged for Focused purpose and greater editorial control.
Navigation of Online Music Anthology is simple. though not immediately intuitive. Access to the content is provided by search and browse. One can search by composer or title, both of which are indexed as keywords (not controlled vocabulary). and allow partial-word searching. If searching multiple fields. there is no way of inserting a Boolean operator, but the search functions as if there were a default "AND" (such as: composer="Bach" AND tide="BWV244"). However, Boolean searches are not supported within a single field search (such as: title="Matthew AND Blut"). nor does the elimination of a Boolean operator in a search yield more effective results or function as a default "AND" (title="Matthew Blut"). Browsing is by period, genre, or composer in the basic search, with nationality and language browsing added in the advanced search. When clicking on a tide from the browse or search results. one is taken immediately to the first page of the scow. where it is possible to zoom in on individual pages or sections and advance through the piece. There is no universal navigation to return easily to the search/browse screen when looking at a score; to achieve this, one must click on the product logo or use the browser's back button.
The scores are optimi/cd for printing on 8 1/2" x 11"paper. The images are sharp and easy to read. There is no limit to the number of pages users may print, as long as the use is personal. Users may not, however, save the files locally but must access scores online or in print.
In addition to general features, there is one particular tool aimed specifically at teaching faculty to aid their use of the Anthology in the classroom. Instructors may create course lists to gather content into one place for their students to use, and it is possible for an instructor to enroll a teaching assistant as well. After creating such a list. a professor may send invitations to students or instruct them to lind the list by institution and instructor within the product. Any user--whether subscribed or not--may browse the collection and view the first page of scores to assess the value and contents of this resource to an institution and/or an individual.
Help documentation within the site is primarily targeted to technical needs, which are thankfully uncomplicated provided that out' has already installed Adobe Flash Player. The product works equally well on PCs and Macs running Internet Explorer. Firefox. or Safari. There is a very informative manual for instructors that includes both text and images to walk teachers through the use of the Anthology and the set up of course lists. This particular tool will function equally well across institutions and save librarians time in helping faculty to familiarize themselves with using this source. A link to contact information for additional support is prominently plat placed, and responses are quick.
Many of the things one finds oneself wishing for when using this resource might be welcome additions but would not necessarily reflect the mission of the project. For instance, the addition of parts would be a distinct benefit and extend the reach of the collection beyond the classroom and into the rehearsal space, yet would offer only limited value to students enrolled in undergraduate music survey courses. The inclusion of recordings is not within the immediate scope of this project--though it is hinted at in the Heuchemer review noted above (16) -- but could allow libraries to present a complete package to music students in their introductory courses as a substitute for the packaged anthologies and recordings that many students currently purchase. Failing that, it would be useful if the Anthology supported the openURL standard for seamless linking of its content with existing streaming audio databases. In the meantime, this product would work nicely in conjunction with a library's local streaming reserves platform, paired via a course management system.
In addition to the desirable index points mentioned above--for series titles and editors--it would also be helpful if the database included and indexed identifying numbers from thematic catalogs. Finally, one obvious drawback of the Anthology is the dependence on Adobe Flash Player for score rendering. This dependence will typically not inhibit use on a traditional computer, but it does prohibit access from mobile Apple devices. As with e-book products that require a dedicated platform, this shortcoMing limits some of what would seem like the natural use of such a product on an iPad.
As is, A-R Editions' Online Music Anthology presents a helpful supplement to print collections and creates a model that targets literature with the broadest need, that of the undergraduate music survey course. Our students are met with increasing textbook costs combined with reduced time and willingness to visit the library. While it is not uncommon for students to try to depend solely on online scores they find in the Public Domain or have acquired through other nefarious means, they would no doubt be better served by an approach that is not so limiting in both availability of contents and in consistency of editorial policy. The Online Music Anthology addresses both of those challenges by creating one central repository to serve the score needs of those students with ubiquitous access from anywhere with an Internet connection, while giving teaching faculty the flexibility to choose from a variety of well-edited source texts, rather than settling on the one or two exemplars of a style from a packaged anthology.
(13.) Note: A-R Editions is the publisher of NOTES and provides business management services for the Music Library Association.
(14.) A-R Editions' Online Music Anthology, About, https://www.lareditions.com/About.aspx (accessed 22 November 2011).
(15.) Dane Owen Heuchemer, review of "A-R Editions, Online Music Anthology," Journal of Music History Pedagogy 1, no. 1 (2010): 67-70.
(16.) Heuchemer, p. 68.
SUSANNAH CLEVELAND Bowling Green Stale University
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|Article Type:||Website overview|
|Date:||May 22, 2012|
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