IATH recently hosted a three-day joint workshop of the University of Virginia Music Library and Universität Paderborn, to further develop specifications for the Music Encoding Initiative (MEI) schema. MEI is an XML application for the representation of music notation, designed to support scholarly research and preservation of cultural heritage material. Development of MEI began in 1999 when Perry Roland of the University of Virginia Library saw the need for an comprehensive mark-up language for musical notation, which has been used in Western music for over a thousand years. Scores are stored in manuscript or print form in libraries all over the world, but only a fraction are stored in digital form (often as image files) and only a small portion of that is in a machine-readable form containing the structural and semantic information that would allow scholars to carry out computer-assisted research.
While there are several digital music formats available, there is no single community-based standard that will support scholarly analysis and editing. This has prevented musicologists from taking advantage of modern digital tools and techniques to perform research that is common for electronic textual sources, such as compiling musical corpora, data interchange, and comparative analysis.
The meeting, jointly funded by the NEH and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), brought together an international group of musicologists and librarians to evaluate and revise the MEI schema. Erin Mayhood, the Head of the University of Virginia Music Library, and Roland are co-PIs on the American portion of the grant, while Joachim Veit and Johannes Kepper of the Universität Paderborn are co-PIs in Germany. Daniel Pitti, IATH's associate director, is experienced in the development and implementation of mark-up schema standards and is serving as an advisor to the group.
A second meeting is scheduled at the Musikwissenschaftliches Seminar Detmold/Paderborn in Detmold, Germany in spring, 2010.
From left to right: Richard Freedman (Haverford University), Raffaele Viglianti (King's College, London), Daniel Pitti, Laurent Pugin (McGill University), J. Stephen Downie (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Donald Byrd (Indiana University), Gabriele Buschmeier (Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz), Christine Siegert (Universität Bayreuth), Joachim Veit (Universität Paderborn), Craig Sapp (Stanford University), Perry Roland, Daniel Röwenstrunk (Edirom Project), Johannes Kepper (Universität Paderborn), Erin Mayhood, and Eleanor Selfridge-Field (Stanford University). Not shown: Stefan Morent (Universität Tübingen) and Megan Ward (U.Va. Music Department).