Archive for the ‘e-books’ Category

1dollarscan.com sounds like a time-saving and reasonably-priced service for those of us with large libraries of printed music that need to be scanned into a digital format for use on an iPad/tablet or other computer.  For as low as $1 a book, 1dollarscan.com will scan your book and convert it to a PDF file that you can download and use on your computer or mobile device.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: With this service, your physical books are NOT RETURNED, they are digitized and then DESTROYED!  So don’t use this for your precious tomes with sentimental value where you can’t let go of the physical volume.  Do use it for books that are cheap, used, and/or easily replaceable.  I’m sure this policy of theirs is some kind of CYA for copyright laws.

Some other quick facts to know about this service:

  • Base price is $1 per 100 pages.
  • For an additional cost, there are add-on services such as:
    • Text recognition to make the book searchable (in English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, and other languages)
    • File compression and de-skewing (compression is important when using scores on a mobile device)
    • Express service
    • Accept direct shipments of your book orders from Amazon or other online book/music vendors
    • (Coming soon) Direct upload to your Dropbox
  • Processing time is 2-4 weeks for regular customers, 5-10 business days for Platinum customers (plus round-trip shipping time)
  • Book covers are not scanned (so scan covers yourself beforehand, if you wish).
  • They accept local drop-offs at their San Jose facility in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • They accept orders shipped from inside or outside of the U.S.

The 1dollarscan.com website has a page about how it works, a FAQ, some sample scans, and pricing details.

Review Lagoon has a pretty good review and follow-up report about their experience with the 1dollarscan.com service, and Living Dice also has a review.  There are only a handful of reviews on Yelp about 1dollarscan.com, but all are positive so far.

If you’re shipping a lot of books from the U.S., check out the economical USPS Media Mail rates.

I haven’t yet tried out this service, but I will eventually – follow-up post to come.

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quantz

I recently found one of my favorite resources on Baroque performance practice and ornamentation on IMSLP:

Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen (Quantz, Johann Joachim)

To further explain what it contains, here is a description of this text from Amazon.com:

Johann Joachim Quantz’s On Playing Flute has long been recognized as one of the most significant and in-depth treatises on eighteenth-century musical thought, performance practice, and style. This classic text of Baroque music instruction goes far beyond an introduction to flute methods by offering a comprehensive program of studies that is equally applicable to other instruments and singers.

The work is comprised of three interrelated essays that examine the education of the solo musician, the art of accompaniment, and forms and style. Quantz provides detailed treatment of a wide range of subjects, including phrasing, ornamentation, accent, intensity, tuning, cadenzas, the role of the concertmaster, stage deportment, and techniques for playing dance movements. Of special interest is a table that relates various tempos to the speed of the pulse, which will help today’s musicians solve the challenge of playing authentic performance tempos in Baroque music.

The whole text is available from IMSLP in the original German as well as in French translation.  There is also an English translation of Chapter 13 only, regarding ornamentation, with the wonderfully florid title: Easy and fundamental instructions whereby either vocal or instrumental performers unacquainted with composition, may from the mere knowledge of the most common intervals in music, learn how to introduce extempore embellishments or variations; as also ornamental cadences with propriety, taste, and regularity, translated from a famous treatise on music, written by Johann Joachim Quantz, composer to his Majesty the King of Prussia.

That florid title is not too surprising, given that this public-domain English version was published in 1780.  Actually, the 18th-century English usage, typeface, and music notation of this edition are a rather challenging read for me, but there is a more modern English translation of Quantz’s text available for purchase from Amazon.com and other sellers if you find yourself in the same boat.

If you’d like to explore similar texts on IMSLP, they have categories for performance practice, music history, and general writings.

This might be useful to you voice students and teachers out there.  I’ve posted before about the Vaccai vocal method book being available on IMSLP, but it didn’t dawn on me until recently that many more vocal methods/studies and related writings are available there.  Here are links to the relevant categories on the IMSLP website:

And here are some items that caught my eye from the pages above:

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The Diction Police logo

I recently listened to Episode #68 of The Diction Police (featuring bass Maurizio Muraro on Banco’s aria from Macbeth) and in this episode, host and fellow iPad addict Ellen Rissinger mentioned a number of useful online/digital resources for Italian language and diction:

The resources I talked about on this episode were the Dizionario d’ortografia e di pronunzia from RAI (the Italian television station) and the Wikipedia entry for standard suffix endings in Italian, including lists of words ending in -MENTO and -MENTE. The iPad apps that I now use for translation and diction purposes are the Harpers Collins Italian-English Dictionary and lo Zingarelli Italian Dictionary (which also gives open and closed Es and Os for all verb forms!).

You can hear Ms. Rissinger talk about these resources in more detail from 2:20-5:35 in the podcast.

russian_art_song

I got wind of the Russian Art Song website via the Diction Police Facebook Page and the Your Accompanist Twitter feed (thanks, you two!).  The site is by Dr. Anton Belov, a baritone who hails from Russia.  Resources include (from the description on the home page):

  • IPA transcriptions and word for word translations
  • Song lyrics read by a native speaker
  • Multimedia online diction manuals
  • Vintage common domain sound recordings (how to access audio files)
  • Scores (for reference only)
  • Biographical information

Also check their About page for links to other websites related to Russian opera and song.

One especially outstanding resource on the site is A Guide to Russian Diction, a 67-page book available as a free PDF download.

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Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Now that my music performance commitments for the holidays and the fall are behind me, I’m coming up for air and for a report on how things went from a technology perspective:

1. Regular choir rehearsals & concerts

The process used by our de facto e-music librarian for scanning and distributing PDF scores has really become quite smooth and streamlined (thanks, Steve!!).  You can read about his scanning workflow in his guest post on my blog.  He makes the scores available for download on a private website in two formats: as a forScore .4sc file for iPad users in the choir (since we are all using forScore) and as a PDF file for non-iPad tablet users.  In the forScore version of the file, Steve packages the scores into a forScore setlist and adds metadata (mainly title and composer) and links (for handling repeats, D.S./D.C. etc.) before he sends them out.  This is a huge boon to us tablet users – our music is already organized when we import it into forScore, and when sight-reading, it only takes us one tap to navigate to the right spot in the score while everyone else is madly flipping paper pages and hunting for the repeat sign or the second ending (I especially love this perk).  I did learn, however, that I personally prefer to keep the printed page numbers in the PDF score rather than cropping them out with the margins to make the music notation display bigger and more readable.  (Ask me in 20 years if I feel the same.)

I was astonished to learn that 20% of our choir has adopted tablets for reading and performing music.  It helps that we are in Silicon Valley, and it also helps that Steve has been a low-key evangelist of sorts and has made the onboarding process very easy.  I like to think that my forScore tutorial series, which I have shared with fellow choristers, has also helped.

Our conductor owns an iPad, but so far he has not conducted from it yet.  I don’t blame him – when you need a musical “roadmap”, it’s not so great when you can only see one shrunken page at a time, and it’s even worse if you need to read anything more complicated than a simple vocal score with piano.  A larger-format iPad would help, or even (if you can afford it) two iPads showing two adjacent pages of the score, but with synchronized page turns (the unrealBook music reader app supports this scenario – wow!).

The iRecorder app for iPad came in handy during one choir rehearsal when we had to learn a traditional African song by ear.  I used my iPad to record a live performance of the song by our guest artists who came to rehearse with us, and then I uploaded and shared the recording with fellow choir members for later review.

2. Working on art songs & arias in voice lessons and coachings

One of my big projects this fall was to get Claude Debussy’s song cycle, Ariettes oubliées, under my belt in its entirety (it’s still in rough form, as my coach will attest).  I bring my iPad with my music on it to lessons and coachings (and a normal binder with paper copies for my pianist, of course).  Despite my complaints in a previous post, I’m facile enough with annotating music on my iPad that I can keep up with the notes I’m being given during a coaching or lesson.  Sometimes I’ll go back through the score later and make things more legible by replacing my messy stylus scrawl with forScore stamp markings.

I prepared my own translations and diction notes, getting the source text from The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive, looking up word translations and IPA on the French-English dictionary at WordReference.com (they have many other languages too), and referencing information from one of my diction textbooks that I scanned and transferred to my iPad.  I put this information into a Word document which I then added to my Dropbox folder.  From there, I can access it anytime from either my iPad or my Android phone for study.  I usually also convert the document into a PDF so I can import it into my forScore library together with the actual score. What I’d really like to do is to be able to edit the Word document on my iPad with automatic Dropbox sync so I can work on translations, etc. on the go, but my current Office suite editor app, Quickoffice, isn’t up to the task yet.  When I edit my .docx Word file in Quickoffice and sync it to Dropbox, the document sometimes gets temporarily corrupted and become unreadable in Quickoffice.  Fortunately, opening and saving the document on my laptop fixes it.  I really really hope Quickoffice fixes this issue, but for now I only edit my document on my laptop and use my iPad and phone just for reading it without editing.  Finally, I write my translation into the score using forScore’s text annotation feature:

Photo Dec 19, 1 00 26 AM

I went to the university music library and used my iPad camera, makeshift scanning stand, and Scanner Pro app to scan the chapter on Ariettes oubliées from Pierre Bernac’s book, The Interpretation of French Song.  (Side note: When using my iPad scanning setup, it’s a lot faster and easier to scan multiple pages from a smaller book like this, versus the big, bulky Castel libretto books.)  It was really handy to have the book pages with me on my iPad at coachings.  I checked to see if the Bernac is available as an e-book, but no dice – if I want to have the whole enchilada on my iPad, I’ll need to buy a physical book and then scan it myself.  The Bernac also suggests metronome markings for the various songs, and Chris R. from Technology in Music Education reminded me that forScore’s virtual metronome will remember settings for individual songs or forScore bookmarks, so I’ll have to try plugging Bernac’s suggested tempi into forScore as a way to remind myself of the approximate tempo.

I also bought and listened to multiple recordings of songs from Ariettes oubliées on iTunes on my iPad.  I used forScore’s feature for assigning song tracks to scores, which lets me listen to the track while reading the score.  I wish forScore had a way of assigning multiple songs or a playlist to the same score.  That would make it easier for me to do comparative listening of different artists performing the same song.  Also, I purchased piano accompaniment tracks for Ariettes oubliées from Your Accompanist and mp3accompanist.com for practicing when there’s no pianist available.  As for basic learning & note-bashing of the vocal line–my iPad, forScore’s virtual piano, and a pair of headphones let me do that anywhere, and it’s been useful for turning my occasional train commute into productive music-learning time.

I’ve also been using forScore setlists as virtual binders for lessons and coachings – I can quickly swap pieces of music in and out depending on what I want to work on during a particular session.  (I set up “virtual binders” for a lot of other things too – audition rep, concert/recital programs, new musical projects that I’m working on, etc.)

And speaking of teaching studios, those of you who have one might like to check out the online service, Music Teacher’s Helper (description on their website: “Designed by music teachers, for music teachers, to help you manage the business aspects of running a private music teaching studio”).  I recently scheduled a lesson with a teacher who uses it, and it sent me a helpful little automated reminder email before my lesson.  It also does other useful administrative tasks, and I’ve heard other teachers recommend it.

(I have more to share, but it’s time to call it a night…to be continued in part 2…)

I read Going Digital for Musicians last night and it went straight into my blogroll.  It’s by Hugh Sung, collaborative pianist and co-founder of AirTurn.  So far, it contains:

  • A case for digital music
  • A short history of digital music
  • A primer for transitioning from paper music to digital music (beginner-friendly, with lots of step-by-step instructions)
  • Profiles/case studies of working musicians and how they made the transition

Although it’s hosted on WordPress.com, it’s really more of a book than a blog, and the author states as much.  It’s a “deep read” with each post as a mini-chapter, and I got the most out of it by reading the posts sequentially, starting from Introduction: From Paper to Pixels.

So grab a cup of tea, get settled in, and read Going Digital for Musicians.  And do put it in your news reader – the author has been using digital music for over a decade and he has a lot of expertise to share.

(P.S. One cool tip I found on the blog: An iPad keyboard case is a great substitute for a missing or broken music rack on a piano – see below.)

Credit: Going Digital for Musicians

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