Print this page

Redefining the College Music Infrastructure

This article is an attempt to summarize in print the multimedia keynote address I delivered at the annual ATMI/ CMS meeting in Portland, OR on November 10, 1995. The presentation contained many demonstrations of how networked multimedia technology can redefine the college music infrastructure and improve services to students, faculty, and administrators. My thesis can be summarized as follows:

After two decades of research and development in multimedia and networking, we have all the tools we need to redefine the college music infrastructure and provide students, faculty, and administrators with a powerful environment for teaching, learning, and research hosted on the World Wide Web. All who share this vision should work toward this common goal.

 

HOW CAN MULTIMEDIA HELP?

Multimedia is the use of a computer to present and combine text, graphics, audio, and video with links and tools that let the user navigate, interact, create, and communicate. Two recent CD-ROMs demonstrate how effectively multimedia can model the music classroom. In Play Blues Guitar, published by Now Play Music, Inc., the student enters a virtual music studio in which blues guitarist Keith Wyatt teaches how to play several blues styles. There are music videos of each piece performed on stage. Hypertext study guides provide historical backgrounds and stylistic explanations. Then Wyatt brings you into his studio and gives lessons on how to play the style. Figure I shows how digital video is used to model the guitar and provide the student with a powerful tool for learning the comps and riffs. The student can speed up or slow the tempo and watch as indicators light up on the fretboard showing what notes to play in time with the music.

Voyetra's Discovering Music is a highly produced suite of music software for learning music history, recording music, printing scores, and improvising with an automatic accompaniment program. Figure 2 shows the main menu. The CD-ROM containing all this costs just $49, demonstrating how multimedia technology has enabled companies like Voyetra to make highly produced music applications available at mass market consumer prices.

 

HOW CAN THE WORLD WIDE WEB HELP?

The World Wide Web is a networked hypertext system that allows documents stored on one computer to be accessed by any other computer connected to the Internet. In addition to text, World Wide Web documents can contain pictures, audio, music notation, animation, and movies. Music curriculum loaded onto the World Wide Web is instantly available anyplace in the world where there is an Internet connection. Students can access this curriculum from any multimedia PC connected to the network, such as from their campus dorm room or a home computer. Since the information superhighway is a two-way street, students can send as well as receive information over the Internet. Electronic mail and computer conferencing provide powerful ways for students to communicate with faculty and fellow students. Videoconferencing is a rapidly emerging technology that will permit students and faculty to have face-to-face conversations over the Internet.

The Web can also provide access to student services. For example, at the University of Delaware, all of our students can get on the Web and see their transcript, view their course schedule, see the status of student loans and financial aid, and review activity on their campus credit card. When administrators use the Web to access data about a student, the student's photo appears on screen along with the data. When faculty need to travel somewhere, they no longer fill out printed travel requests; instead, Delaware's online electronic forms system, called EZForms, handles everything electronically, including making the hotel and airline reservations. As Figures 3 and 4 illustrate, purchase orders, journal vouchers, cash advances, benefits, fee waivers, work requests, library forms, project logs, check approvals, textbook adoption, and change of address forms are all handled electronically at Delaware.

Besides being less expensive and more efficient than paper forms, electronic forms can be served anywhere in the world you have an Internet connection. Delaware uses Netscape's Secured Socket Layer (SSL) technology to keep the information secretly encrypted as it travels across the network. Delaware's MIS director Carl Jacobson (1995) provides more detailed information with demos at the WWW address http//www.udel.edu/cause95.html.

 

THE CURRENT STATE OF MUSIC RESOURCES ON THE WEB

The music library at Indiana University has assumed the task of indexing all the music resources on the web. The music resources index is located at http://www.music.indiana.edu/misc /music- resources.html. By pointing your World Wide Web browser at this excellent index, you can navigate through a wealth of musical treasures. For example, the Classics World web site (http://www.classicalmus.com) lets you browse the latest releases of classical music on CD-ROMS. At the World Wide Web's Classical Music MIDI Archives (http://www.prs.net/midi.html) you can download and play MIDI files for thousands of classical music compositions. The artist-specific index at http://www.music.indiana.edu/misc/artists.html lists hundreds of performing musicians who have established World Wide Web sites.

However, you will find a few disappointments along the way. For example, if you are a music scholar, and you choose Academic Sites, then American Musicological Society, you will find an entry for the Journal of the American Musicological Society. This may raise your expectations (as it did mine) for finding JAMS online and navigable via the Web's search tools. But if you go there (http://musdra.ucdavis.edu/Documents/AMS/AMS_JAMS.html), you will find that JAMS is not really online; you only get boilerplate identifying the journal's staff and editorial board.

At least one music journal is online. If you visit the Society for Music Theory's web site at http://boethius.music.ucsb.edu/ smtlist/smthome.html, you will find an online journal called Music Theory Online. However, only a few of its articles are available so far in World Wide Web format. Nevertheless, these articles demonstrate what music scholarship could be like if all music documents were on the web. For example, at http://boethius.music.ucsb.edu/mto/issues/mto.95.1.4/ mto.95.1.4.code.html, you will find David Code's article Listening for Schubert's Doppelgaengers. It contains musical examples and hypertext links to all the references in the paper. Unfortunately, these links only take you to entries in the bibliography at the end of the paper, because the articles they reference are not online. I want music students to have all music resources online, so they can search and navigate a World Wide Web of interconnected music scholarship.

Indeed, there is a crisis in college music scholarship. In CMS Report No. 9, which was devoted to studying this crisis, Thomas Heck (1990) reported that ". . . around 80% of the graduate theses currently being accepted for MA, DMA, and PhD degrees in music are inadequately researched. They are bibliographically unsound. They fail to evidence adequate control of the literature." Part of the reason for that is our reliance on paper. Imagine how much more efficient research would be if all of our music journals, books, and research materials were online on the World Wide Web. Students and faculty could conduct research much more quickly and with far greater rigor than the paper system allows today.

 

A WORLD WIDE CALL TO ACTION

If it required fancy tools and advanced skills to put music scholarship on the World Wide Web, it would not be feasible to issue the call for action that I am about to make. Happily, the same tools that are used to author the materials -- word processors such as Microsoft Word and WordPerfect -- an create web pages. Microsoft gives away for free the Internet Assistant add-on to Microsoft Word; you can download it from http://www.microsoft.com/msoffice/freestuf/msword/download/ia/default.htm. WordPerfect for Windows users can create web pages with WP Internet Publisher, which is also free; you can download it from http://wp.novell.com/elecpub/inttoc.htm.

When everyday word processing tools -- the same tools used to create scholarly documents in the first place -- become the tools for creating World Wide Web documents, there is no excuse for not getting down to work and putting music scholarship onto the World Wide Web. The musical community is lagging behind other disciplines, and I call upon the College Music Society to help music scholars get organized and take advantage of the Internet. Let's help all music scholars get their materials onto the web, connect these materials into the World Wide Web search engines, and create a fascinating future for music scholarship.

 

REFERENCES

Heck, Thomas. Anything Goes? Issues in the Bibliographic Quality Control of Music Theses and Dissertations. CMS Report Number 9 (October, 1990): 56-71.

Jacobson, Carl. Internet Tools Access Administrative Data at the University of Delaware. Cause/Effect 18, no. 3 (Fall, 1995): 7-12. (http://www.udel.edu/ud/cause95.htm)

Read 1237 times

Last modified on Thursday, 02/05/2013

Login to post comments