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.
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.