Musical Scholarship and the Future of Academic Publishing

An all-day workshop sponsored by the Academic Book of the Future project.

Venue: Goldsmiths, University of London. Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre, Whitehead Building. #34 on this map.

Date: 10:30 - 18:00, Monday 11 April 2016.

Academic Book of the Future

Music publishing and writing about music have always pushed at the boundaries of publishing technology. And the dissemination of music documents often challenges our notions of authorial ownership. As digital technology increasingly dominates the production and dissemination of scholarly content, including original writing, critical editions, and creative practice, how will music research rise to the challenges it poses?

Music notation

This one day event forms part of the Academic Book of the Future project and aims to explore how digital production and dissemination will impact on music publishing and scholarship in the coming years. Topics covered will include: what will be the best practice for encoding, dissemination, and preservation of music notation? How will online collaboration affect the production and ownership of digital music editions? How can the narrative structures and arguments of scholarly discourse and of music editions be preserved in a context of 'random access' (from search engines, etc.)? Should scholars and artists publish their work (writing, editions, compositions) as Open Access, and should they carry out their drafting processes in public, making early editions and edit histories available online?

Attendance is free (including refreshments, lunch and a wine reception). However places are limited so please book in advance using Eventbrite:

Please see the project blog post which reports on the workshop.


Time Title Speakers
10:30 - 11:00 Registration and coffee
11:00 - 11:15 Welcome and Introduction Tim Crawford, Rebecca Lyons (UCL)
11:15 - 11:45 Thinking the Unthinkable... or, The Limits of Open Access Mark Everist (Southampton)
11:45 - 12:15 Hypermedia Musicology: Publishing musicology on the Web Tim Crawford and Richard Lewis (Goldsmiths)
12:15 - 12:45 Films as ethnomusicological texts: observational cinema and the fieldwork movie John Baily (Goldsmiths)
12:45 - 13:50 Lunch
14:00 - 14:30 Aggregating digital resources for musicology Laurent Pugin (Swiss RISM)
14:30 - 15:00 Toward building an upper-level music ontology: Why, what, and how Yun Fan (RILM)
15:00 - 15:30 Enriching Musical Context and Connecting Audiences Zoltán Kőmíves and Joan Lockwood (Tido Music)
15:30 - 16:00 Coffee
16:00 - 17:00 Roundtable Chair: Simon McVeigh (Goldsmiths)
17:00 - 18:00 Wine
18:00 Finish


Thinking the Unthinkable... or, The Limits of Open Access

Mark Everist (University of Southampton; Royal Musical Association)

It’s easy to find oneself – at all levels of the scholarly publishing enterprise – progressively hemmed in by questions of digital presentation and open access. And this is of course a paradox, given that ‘open access’ is supposed to free up scholarship. ‘Gold access’, ‘green access’, ‘hybrid gold-green’ access all seem to generate anxiety on the part of those who actually do the research and publish it. Threats of ineligibility for the REF 2121 if carefully constructed hurdles are not jumped just makes it worse.

And at the same time we are told that we cannot afford to buy new journals for our libraries while – we are told –large publishing conglomerates are making money hand over fist. For those of us who are also on the other end of the publishing process (the Royal Musical Association publishes two journals and a monographs series) there is the constant careful negotiation with the publishers with whom we work, and even the current presentation will be qualified very carefully so as not to antagonise our publishing colleagues.

So this presentation stems from a moment at an RMA council meeting in January 2016 when a trustee of the association (I will leave them anonymous) asked the simple question: what would happen if the RMA’s journals were published open access with no involvement of a publisher at all? The question was unscripted and off the agenda, but the conversation made me think a little harder about what might happen if the Association did move to a genuinely open access model. This presentation – which indeed thinks the unthinkable – documents those thoughts.

Hypermedia Musicology: Publishing musicology on the Web

Tim Crawford (Professorial Research Fellow and P.I. of Transforming Musicology, Goldsmiths) and Richard Lewis (Research associate on Transforming Musicology, Goldsmiths)

Transforming Musicology will produce as one of its principal outputs an edited book which collects together much of the research of the project. However, unlike many such books, this final output of Transforming Musicology will be a Web-first publication and will take full advantage of the hypermedia platform.

We describe the challenges we face and how we shall be working with the contributing authors to produce and edit the content such that it can become a first class hypermedia citizen. Topics we touch on include: Preparing traditional scholarship for Web publication; Embedding/linking dynamic music examples; Widening access to broader audiences; Allowing a customised experience through hypermedia; Curating dynamic reading paths for different readerships; Reproducible research and opening access to content for re-publication.

Films as ethnomusicological texts: observational cinema and the fieldwork movie

John Baily (Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of the Afghanistan Music Unit, Goldsmiths.)

Baily will discuss the training in anthropological film making at the National Film and Television School in 1984–86. The NFTS' advocacy of the observational cinema style of documentary film led to the prizewinning Amir: An Afghan refugee musician's life in Peshawar, Pakistan. The advent of light-weight video cameras led him to the use of the camera as a research tool in the conduct of field research and the development of the fieldwork movie as a way of representing the outcome of ethnomusicological research. Four of his fieldwork movies will be presented in brief.

Aggregating digital resources for musicology

Laurent Pugin (Swiss RISM)


The Advanced Research Consortium (ARC) is an organization that provides support and coordination for humanities communities with the aim of peer reviewing and aggregating existing digital resources. The communities supported by the consortium include, among others, the Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship (NINES), 18th-Connect, and the Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance (MESA). A project supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is currently investigating the creation of a similar community for music and musicology. Preliminary discussions have shown that, at this stage, many questions that I will develop in this paper remain open. They concern the type of resources that should be considered for inclusion, how the various sub-disciplines in music and musicology research should be represented, and how the community should be organized in order to provide an added value to existing resources.

Toward building an upper-level music ontology: Why, what, and how

Yun Fan (RILM)


RILM is taking steps toward building an upper-level music ontology. An upper-level ontology is an ontology that describes musical concepts and their internal relationships within the knowledge domain of music regardless of the cultural origins of the musics. This ontology should be a conceptual ontology that provides a foundation for understanding individual instances of each musical concept. It will benefit music researchers and the public at large by improving music information organization and retrieval as well as the conversation and mutual understanding between music traditions. It will also help to regulate and standardize the use of these terms and to define the relationships among them. The categories of terms, individual terms within each category, and relationships between terms have to be carefully defined to represent general concepts shared by different cultures. This is because of the complexity of music systems and their diverse representations in different traditions. The RILM indexing system and reference sources such as international music dictionaries and encyclopedias can be useful for the initial development of the vocabulary used by this upper-level ontology. RILM is considering Protégé, an open-source ontology editor developed by Stanford University, for building this ontology. In this presentation a few examples of term and relationship design in Protégé will be demonstrated. I will also discuss some of the issues and concerns RILM is grappling with and open up discussions for possible international cooperation on this project.

Enriching Musical Context and Connecting Audiences

Zoltán Kőmíves and Joan Lockwood (Tido Music)


Academic publishing can be understood as the counterpart of trade publishing, the main difference being their target audience and their specific user needs. The target audience of academic music publishing is scholars, performers interested in their work, students, teachers in both higher- and lower-level or private education, for all of whom the intellectual context of the works they study is of primary importance. The target audience of trade music publishing is performers, professional and amateur musicians, and music enthusiasts, whose foremost concerns are more practical than academic. As a result of different use cases and priorities, in print publishing practical usability may be compromised in favour of intellectual context, and the other way around, context can easily be sacrificed on the altar of usability. The commercially most successful hybrid solutions on paper are urtext editions. They are nevertheless a compromise: between preserving some notion of intellectual context and trying to remain practical. There are several problems with these editions. The concept of one, original text is fundamentally wrong and antiquated; the compromises imposed by the necessity of choosing one reading over the other can be so great that the text can barely be considered comprehensive from a scholarly perspective, while the practical usefulness of the critical commentary and report at the end of the book is negligible for the average performer.

Our vision is a future where boundaries between trade and academic publishing are less rigid. In this future a rich and dynamic context surrounds the core subject of study, that is the musical work. Seamless user experiences ensure that published products are both practical and have a rich intellectual context. In the world of publishing we envisage, the dissemination of research output is not limited to products solely targeted to academic users or study purposes, and performers and practicing musicians have frictionless access to academic research in their everyday activities. We believe that the results of academic research can and should reach wider audiences than they do today, and that there is a need for users being able to seamlessly navigate a rich and connected world of music.

Tido's first step towards this future is to connect with younger audiences by a white label product, Mastering the Piano Academy with Lang Lang. Powered by our technology, branded and published by Faber Music, it is an app for iPad which reproduces the sheet music content of an existing print publication, while enriching it with audio, video, tutorials and historical background. Our second, forthcoming product Tido: Piano Masterworks is targeting a more advanced level of pianists. As part of our strategic direction, we are also in discussions with the the Online Chopin Variorum Edition (OCVE) project, a collaboration that would target academic communities as well professional performers and higher education students.