Digital Delius: Interpretation, Performance, and Analysis

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Music Faculty


'Digital Delius: Interpretation, Performance, and Analysis' will allow anyone with an internet connection, at any time and without cost, to access items from the extraordinarily rich collections of the British Library and the Delius Trust. Not only will users be able to view items (such as the original version of the String Quartet and Beecham's annotated scores) that have previously only been available to those able to visit the British Library or the Delius Trust in London, but they will also benefit from a wealth of expert commentary drawing on research conducted during the original AHRC project. Moreover, the project will develop new functionalities to allow non-expert listeners to understand and engage with the digital items, as well as presenting accompanying multimedia content such as recordings and photographs. The collections will thus gain new significance for users who lack specialist expertise in music or the use of manuscripts. By developing teaching resources and presenting a programme of workshops alongside the exhibition, we will enhance the impact of our original research by targeting a specific demographic: students aged 16-21. Our focus on i) editing, performance, and interpretation and ii) nationalism and programme music will render the exhibition of value to music students beyond those interested in Delius, enabling learning about issues at the core of the study of music.

The British Library possesses outstanding holdings of internationally significant music material and is keen to explore ways both to present these holdings to the public, and to attract new deposits based on the opportunities for digital curation, access, and education. The Delius exhibition will be the first music exhibition of its kind for the British Library. It will thus enable scoping of the possibilities of further digital music projects, and establish a platform which may be expanded to create other exhibitions and digital collections in the future.

Planned Impact

Music encoding technology will enable us to bring the life-cycle of the musical work to life for the first time, available to anybody with an internet connection. Students, amateur and professional musicians, scholars and the general public will be able to access a range of rare material, supported by informational, critical and educational content provided by experts. These users will benefit from the knowledge of computer scientists and musicologists, combined with British Library expertise in mounting virtual exhibitions.

While the concept of the virtual exhibition is established, the notion of developing unique interactive functionalities for musical exhibitions is a new concept, only now able to be supported by music encoding technology. Moreover, it is only with the proliferation of tablets, with their screen rotation feature, that exhibitions and resources featuring large scores (orchestral scores for example) have become feasible. Such devices will also permit tactile zooming, tapping on different objects, and other forms of tactile interaction only recently made possible. After the end of the funding period, the digitized items from the Delius Trust and the British Library will be stored permanently, and the exhibition will remain available on the British Library website as per the organisation's digital preservation strategy. Code and software developed to create new functionalities will be deposited for long-term preservation in the Bodleian Library's ORA-Data system and made freely available using Github. These measures will enable other projects to mount similar ventures in the future.


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