Where did that year go?

It seems almost incomprehensible that it is December already – 2018 has flown by like no other year I can remember. Working in London for nkoda amongst a large team of predominantly 20-something very talented women and men is invigorating and challenging at the same time. Creating a digital delivery system from scratch that works at the scale we require is a massive undertaking for both nkoda and the participating publishers – and we have achieved so much in such a short time.

If there is one important takeaway from this experience for me, it is that the shift from print to digital is gaining momentum all over the world. So even if you have not started on this journey, it is only a matter of time.

For that reason, the focus in 2019 for both HLMSW and Zinfonia will be to help publishers in this transition. There are several projects we are working on to make it easier for publishers to manage both their paper and digital assets and to provide better integration with all digital services like nkoda.

Zinfonia will pass a significant milestone before the end of the year with the creation of the 40,000th account. In some territories, Zinfonia manages the majority of all hire/rental transactions and the number of publishers using the service also continues to grow. We are planning to give Zinfonia a major refresh in 2019 so that it continues to meet the needs of all its users.

For HLMSW, we will be providing enhancements so that it can drive much more than just hire/rental stock control. This includes interfacing with Digital Asset Management systems (for digital content) and providing simplified workflows for other sorts of rights handling operations (copyright permissions and musical theatre to name just two).

One important connection between HLMSW, Zinfonia and nkoda is the Universal Instrumentation Code (UIC). nkoda is the first large-scale system created around the UIC and as a result, apart from it now being available in 11 languages (English, French, German, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese and Spanish) , we will very soon have the possibility of being able to match titles based on precise instrumentations – not just for common groupings, but for any ensemble, including symphony orchestras. I do recommend you encourage your library team to review the information here  to gain some useful insights in UIC-best practice.

I would like to single out two people for helping me get though the mountain of work required to keep everything running smoothly. Firstly, I must thank my friend and colleague Ulrich Steffen Eck, who manages the world-wide customer support for both HLMSW and Zinfonia, a job that does not really accommodate personal time or sleep. I would also acknowledge the sacrifice of my wife Joanne gave up her Australian life to move to the other side of the globe for the sole purpose of helping me on this journey. I really do not know how I could have managed everything this year without them both.

 

On behalf of Steffen, Joanne and myself, may I wish you and your colleagues friends and family a safe and joyous festive season and a bountiful New Year.

Peter Grimshaw

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The nkoda journey begins

I would like to start this blog post with an apology – I had wanted to document each step of my nkoda journey here but I simply have not had the time to do so.  To say the last 6 months of my residency here in London have been frenetic would be an understatement.  But I do want to share some of the experience of this exciting project now that the iOS version has been released.

To create an effective streaming platform, the range and depth of the content is critical for success.  Content is the focus of my role here at nkoda, and I am involved with the publishers in every aspect of their involvement on the platform, as well as providing knowledge and technical support to aid them in their transformation from print to digital.

The faith shown in nkoda by our initial partners was immense, especially as we had to start working on the platform content and the infrastructure that surrounds it many months before we had an app to see the results.

I would like to take a little side-step and praise the work of the amazing nkoda CTO Sundar Venkitachalam.  The complexity of architecture required to deliver the millions of pages of nkoda content as efficiently and securely as we do is nothing short of miraculous.  The content we provide is sourced from single page PDFs of guitar tabs to massive full scores of operas that are hundreds of pages long.  Every PDF (with our current record being a 2Gb full score of a french opera) must be converted, encrypted, stored, indexed and deployed seamlessly, something the nkoda framework has done from the very beginning. It is perhaps one of the great ironies of technology that you only really become aware of it when it does not work, and so many great achievements like this go largely unrecognised.  Bravo Sundar!

Even with the close co-operation of our publisher partners, nkoda faced a real challenge to ensure our platform had sufficient content at launch to make the subscription model viable.

We really only need 2 things to publish on nkoda – a PDF that is in reading order, and some metadata to describe its content.  Although publishers had terabytes of PDFs waiting to be used for digital, the vast majority of these had issues of one kind or another  due largely to the fact that this was a digital archive for printers, not for screens.  Typically we would have to deal with printers’marks and the majority of content we processed had to be reorganised in some way (split apart, joined together, rotated and reassembled) so that the pages were in reading order.  We then had to marry up these files with the various sources of metadata.  While we can automate some of these tasks, all of these actions require some level of human input.

To do this at the scale and speed necessary to meet our goals required more resources than any publisher could deploy.   So, early this year. nkoda embarked on a recruiting drive for musicologists and music graduates to help us help the publishers transform their digital archives into a publishable form.

Today our team of music specialists are around 30 women and men from all over the world, and they have created something quite remarkable.  By my own estimation, they have examined more than 7 million PDF pages to check for errors, omissions and discrepancies (and there have been many).  They have also fixed metadata, created covers, and assigned UICs for almost all of this amazing repository of music, much of which has never been available in a digital format before.  We are very proud of the content you will see in nkoda – it has been an incredible achievement by everyone involved.

The nkoda London team

If you are a publisher that would like to access this resource to help get your content available in nkoda quickly, do not delay as it is only possible to maintain this level of activity and expertise while there is a large amount of content to ingest.

I would also like to take another side step and talk about the UIC.  If you look back in this blog you will see that this system was created with a digital delivery system in mind, and nkoda is the first to be built completely around UIC architecture.   We are curating a valuable resource 0f UIC best practice, which I would encourage all HLMSW users to read here: nkoda UIC and Instrumentation Guidelines  The UIC is also now in 11 languages (English, Simplified Chinese, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Polish, Russian and Spanish) to match the launch languages of nkoda. The final chapter of this story is that we will soon be providing advanced search tools which will allow you to search the nkoda catalogue for instrumental combinations to a level that has never before been possible.

I think the one aspect of this whole experience that makes me so excited is that while we are generating new income streams and protecting the intellectual property of our publisher partners and their authors, the nkoda platform gives unfettered access to the best music and editions for musicians and scholars like never before.  If you miss the experience of browsing shelf after shelf of sheet music at your local music store, I recommend you check out nkoda and relive that feeling of discovery which is being enjoyed by our customers all over the world.

Click here to download nkoda from the App Store

 

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Zinfonia 2017 Review

Zinfonia most performed titles in 2017

  1. Arturo Márquez Danzon No. 2 (Peermusic Classical) attach
  2. Leonard Bernstein West Side Story. Symphonic Dances (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  3. Modest Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition; arr. [Ravel] (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  4. Carl Orff Carmina Burana (Schott Music) attach
  5. Leonard Bernstein Candide. Overture (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  6. Aaron Copland Appalachian Spring. Suite [Orch. Version] (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  7. Aaron Copland Appalachian Spring. Suite [Chamber Version] (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  8. George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue (Gershwin Music) attach
  9. Leonard Bernstein Chichester Psalms [Full Version] (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  10. Samuel Barber Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (G. Schirmer) attach
  11. Joaquín Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez (Schott / Ediciones Joaquín Rodrigo) attach
  12. Ottorino Respighi Pini di Roma (Casa Ricordi) attach
  13. Igor Stravinsky Pulcinella. Suite (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  14. Leonard Bernstein On The Town. 3 Dance Episodes (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  15. Benjamin Britten The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  16. Aaron Copland Lincoln Portrait (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  17. Leonard Bernstein Serenade (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  18. Sergey Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances [Full Orchestra]  (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  19. Benjamin Britten Four Sea Interludes (Boosey & Hawkes) attach
  20. Francis Poulenc Gloria (Salabert) attach

Zinfonia most performed composers in 2017

Ralph Vaughan Williams (Wikipedia)

  1. Leonard Bernstein attach
  2. Aaron Copland attach
  3. George Gershwin attach
  4. Benjamin Britten attach
  5. Igor Stravinsky attach
  6. Dmitri Shostakovich attach
  7. John Rutter attach
  8. Ralph Vaughan Williams attach
  9. Richard Strauss attach
  10. Samuel Barber attach
  11. Sergey Prokofiev attach
  12. Karl Jenkins attach
  13. Maurice Ravel attach
  14. Sergey Rachmaninov attach
  15. Arturo Márquez attach
  16. Mack Wilberg attach
  17. Béla Bartók attach
  18. Ottorino Respighi attach
  19. Francis Poulenc attach
  20. Carl Orff attach

Zinfonia Composers who died in 2017

Halim Abdul Messieh El-Dabh (Wikipedia)

  • Paul Angerer (30.viii.1933 — 15.xi.2017) attach
  • Luis Bacalov (30.viii.1933 — 15.xi.2017) attach
  • Xavier Benguerel (9.ii.1931 — 10.viii.2017) attach
  • Daniel Brewbaker (01951 — 14.v.2017) attach
  • Klaus-Peter Bruchmann (16.x.1932 — 21.viii.2017) attach
  • Jacques Charpentier (18.x.1933 — 15.vi.2017) attach
  • Halim El-Dabh (4.iii.1921 — 2.ix.2017) attach
  • Jan Holdstock (01940 — 11.v.2017) attach
  • Klaus Huber (30.xi.1924 — 2.x.2017) attach
  • Wilhelm Killmayer (21.viii.1927 — 20.viii.2017) attach
  • Ingvar Lidholm (24.ii.1921 — 17.x.2017) attach
  • Malcolm Lipkin (2.v.1932 — 2.vi.2017) attach
  • David Maslanka (30.viii.1943 — 6.viii.2017) attach
  • William Mayer (18.xi.1925 — 17.xi.2017) attach
  • María Luisa Ozaita (20.v.1939 — 5.iv.2017) attach
  • Peteris Plakidis (4.iii.1947 — 8.viii.2017) attach
  • Georges Prêtre (14.viii.1924 — 4.i.2017) attach
  • Folke Rabe (28.x.1935 — 25.ix.2017) attach
  • Eric Salzmann (8.ix.1933 — 13.xi.2017) attach
  • Vladimir Shainsky (12.xii.1925 — 25.xii.2017) attach
  • Dudley Simpson (4.x.1922 — 4.xi.2017) attach
  • Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (3.x.1923 — 21.ii.2017) attach
  • Veljo Tormis (7.viii.1930 — 21.i.2017) attach
  • Gilles Tremblay (6.ix.1932 — 27.vii.2017) attach
  • Jean-Jacques Werner (20.i.1935 — 22.x.2017) attach
  • Zhu Jian’er (18.x.1922 — 15.viii.2017) attach
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2B or not 2B

Now that the nkoda  project is into the building phase, the massive task of creating a digital library like no other has well and truly begun.

I had hoped to be more regular with my musings here about the process, but with the sheer number of meetings with publishers, performers, administrators and others in this industry, not to mention the ongoing discussions with my nkoda colleagues on the platform, there is simply not enough hours in the day.  I will though try and share some of the more interesting things I discover from time to time.

Clean or Dirty?

A key feature of the nkoda platform is the state-of-the-art annotation tools which work best with clean copy with all post-printing marks removed.  There has been quite a lot of work here to create tools and processes to help publishers get the best results from whatever digital master they have, and so every page in nkoda will often look cleaner and more beautiful than the original.

As any orchestral librarian will tell you the last thing they want to receive from a publisher is a set of parts which is completely clean.  They want a set with consistent markings from previous performances (preferably from their OWN performances).   They also need a facility to be able to quickly and easily customise the markings because you can bet that a good percentage of the string bowings will have to be reversed (thank goodness that a bow can only travel in two directions!).

The nkoda platform makes this very easy going forward with functionality for librarians to be able to manage, archive and distribute their annotations.

But as our parts will be initially pristine, publishers may want to consider making available parts with optional markings/errata from reputable sources, at least for the most important parts of their catalogues.   This is more than just providing a service, it may also be a factor in the decision what edition to use.

Before we leave annotations for the day,  another use for this service is for scholarly editions, where publisher-supplied layers of errata, fingerings or articulations could be turned on and off at the discretion of the performer – something that would be very powerful.

Expect to hear more about annotations from nkoda in the future, because we believe they are every bit as important as the notes themselves.

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nkoda starts now

My appointment as Director of Music for the nkoda digital sheet music streaming service was announced today (click here to view the press release) and this marks a really amazing new opportunity for me to participate in this new age of music publishing.

There are many reasons why I believe that the nkoda model will succeed, but it is clear that when we achieve our goals, it will be a win for both publishers and consumers.

Publishers will be able to work with a platform built for them, which can host all of their content efficiently and securely and generate income whenever it is used.

For consumers of music, the barriers of geography, availability and price are gone, and the dream of universal access will finally be a reality.

Exciting times indeed!

Here at hlmsw.com, I will chronicling this journey.  Over the next few months I will aim to keep you informed about our progress as well as sharing tips to get the most out of your nkoda participation.  So if you have not already, bookmark this space.

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Changes are coming!

Sorry for the lack of posts in recent times…a broken website combined with a severe lack of time has made it difficult to post anything substantial.

But stay tuned!   There will be an exciting announcement later this week that will be of interest to all Zinfonia and HLMSW publishers, and will also mean changes to this blog as well.

More soon….

 

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Making UICs FLY!

The changeover to the UIC has many advantages for HLMSW users and their customers but there is a compromise in speed.

The old HLMSW system for managing stock was very efficient because the entire stock record was saved in a single slot in the database.  So to display a transaction with the old system, would take a minimum of 6 information requests to the database to extract the information to display.  That same task with a UIC could take more than 50 requests because each stock item is saved in its own slot.

It gets even more complicated when you consider that almost EVERY transaction in HLMSW also has its own stock lines which must be saved, and so for publishers with long HLMSW histories, the UIC databases can easily grow to millions of lines, all of which have to be trawled through to display results (it still amazes me how fast this process actually is).

But every request to display and save a UIC item does take a little longer than a non-UIC item, and this is something that we constantly seek to improve.

In the most recent release of HLMSW (8.0.7.0), we have adopted some advanced database techniques to make a huge impact the efficiency of this operation.  Firstly we have created a routine that archives all of the older transactional information which is unlikely to change and placed it into an archival table and we have also created some special indexes which makes access of this information lightning fast.  It is important to note, that you will not see any difference with archived transaction UICs, they will be displayed as normal (albeit a few milliseconds slower than the live data) and if you edit them, they will return to the live list automatically.  The only way you can tell items which have been archived is that they will have a little lock symbol displayed on the UIC button:

Archiving your UICs

The routine to archive and index your UICs is not performed automatically.  It should be part of your regular maintenance plan to run this routine, but please note it can only be done when there are no other users in HLMSW, and depending on the size of your UIC tables, it can take a long time to complete (especially the first time it is run).

To access this feature, click on the UIC button in the Maintenance tab of the Configuration Editor:

then select the Archive/Index UIC Transactions button

and you will be presented with this screen

Click OK and you will find your HLMSW experience will be greatly improved.

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Daniels’ Legacy

Peter Grimshaw and David Daniels at the 2017 Annual MOLA Conference in San Diego

At the recent MOLA annual conference in San Diego, I had the unique honour to be seated next to David (Dave) Daniels.  This is a name that any orchestral librarian will know well because his publications are an essential reference in any music library, and have been for almost the last half century.

So famous is he, that the most popular (and in my view the best) way we “concatenate” descriptive orchestrations from this:

2 Flutes 2 Oboes 2 Clarinets 2 Bassoons 2 Horns 2 Trumpets  Percussion Strings
into
2 2 2 2 – 2 2 0 0 – perc – strings

is called the “Daniels” format.

Daniels has personally inspected more than 10,000 scores to make sure the information in his publications is accurate and so it is perhaps not so surprising that his presence at MOLA was to announce his retirement.    Not that his legacy will be forgotten.  The work will continue under the guidance of David Oertel and David Alexander Rahbee with a 6th edition to be be published sometime in the next few years, and the online resource at https://daniels-orchestral.com will continue to be expanded and updated.

Enjoy your retirement Dave, you certainly have earned it!

 

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BTMI in the USA

Peter Grimshaw will be attending the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association 35th Annual Conference hosted by San Diego Symphony in May.  During the conference, he will be presenting session to help users get the most out of Zinfonia, and he will be participating in presentations by Lorenzo Brewer, founder and creator of nkoda who will be introducing the platform to the attendees.

In the following week, Peter Grimshaw will be travelling on to New York for further meetings with HLMSW and Zinfonia users.

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A Polish First

PWM Edition recently completed the massive project to convert the instrumentation of their entire rental catalogue into the Universal Instrumentation Code format, and is the first publisher to do so.

The real power of the UIC (particularly in searching) can only be demonstrated when there is a large body of work with a UIC and so as more publishers commit to the platform, so does the possibilities for its use (about 4% of titles on Zinfonia have UICs).  The UIC is now available in 5 languages (English, French, German, Italian and Polish) and we are currently extending the ability to easily display UIC information styles familiar with librarians around the world.

Check it out: https://www.zinfonia.com/zShowWork.aspx?publisher=PWM+Edition

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