Beethoven in the House: Digital Studies of Domestic Music Arrangements

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Engineering Science


Beethoven in the House encompasses two novel and complementary studies into domestic music arrangements of the 19th Century, a digital research environment which will be co-developed alongside the studies, and the innovative application of digital musicology methods within this environment.

Performance of music in the home was the means by which most works were received before the advent of audio recordings and broadcasts, yet the notation sources that form our primary record of this culture have not been the subject of comprehensive or methodical study. Choices made by arrangers adapting music for domestic consumption-of instrumentation, abbreviation, or simplification-reflect the musical life of the 19th-century, and can inform our understanding alongside contemporary accounts such as newspapers, adverts, and diaries.

A study of Steiner editions of Beethoven's 7th and 8th Symphonies and Wellingtons Sieg will make a detailed comparison between arrangements, systematically identifying a core common to multiple versions, and asking if this reflects the stated values of the publisher. A second survey seeks patterns across a larger sample of lesser-known and poorly catalogued scores, collating emergent indicators of arrangers' motivations within a narrative of the domestic market - the music industry of its day. Both studies innovate digital methods which characterise arrangements as music encodings, including new 'sparse' approaches to notation and annotation. Optical Music Recognition and Linked Data will find and structure new knowledge. Results will be digitally represented using an ontology of musicological argument, providing reusable methods and research data for digital musicology, as well as informing the wider digital humanities.

Leading experts and institutions from Germany and the UK will work together with combined collections from both countries for the first time. Doing so, they will jointly transform methods and tools in their field of digital musicology.


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Description MEI Linked Data Interest Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Interest Group considers applications of Linked Data to interconnect the rich music and music-related information resources available on the Web with MEI encodings. It focuses on establishing and documenting best practices through community discussion, work on the MEI guidelines for this topic, and proposing useful changes to the MEI schema to enhance or facilitate such connections to and from MEI encodings. The group seeks to provide reference points, both for newcomers, and those with more advanced experience in the topic. Finally, the group intends to work to raise awareness of Linked Data practices within the MEI community, and of music-specific approaches within the Semantic Web and Web science communities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
Description RISM UK workshop: Crowdsourcing musical data 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Kevin Page attended and contributed to a workshop on the replacement for the RISM databasewith a tailored UK discovery layer for the worldwide RISM database. The workshop examined how users might engage with the RISM database and its data, and whether crowd-sourcing could be used as a technique, for instance to get users to add coded incipits to the current entries in the RISM database.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020