Digitizing the band's library

Discussion in 'Computer Corner' started by Catherine Moore, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. Catherine Moore

    Catherine Moore New Member

    I am looking into scanning our band's very extensive library of music. We have a vast amount of music, some of which is old, rare, and/or irreplacible. Has anyone had any experience of companies that will do this in a sympathetic fashion? Some is very fragile, so it isn't all a case of putting it through a scanner on block. We want to make sure we preserve our music should the worst happen....
    I know it won't be cheap, and am looking into grant funding. And it would need to be a company that would come out and do this on site.
    Any leads would be appreciated.
  2. marc71178

    marc71178 Member

    I'd imagine this breaches copyright law.
  3. Catherine Moore

    Catherine Moore New Member

    Thanks Marc, an extraordinarily 'helpful' reply. Clearly I hadn't thought of this!!! I assume that you have never photocopied a piece of music to mark up, rather than the original?

    OK, to be clear for anyone else: I will be checking out the copyright. There will be no distribution of the music. It will probably never be played again. I am talking about some pieces of work that are over 100 years old, or original compositions. It's basically a virtual shelf, replicating the real shelf. Or is someone going to say that our shelves are in breach of copyright?

    Sensible answers only please, otherwise my first foray into TheMouthpiece will proabably be my last. I thought bands-people were a helpful bunch.
    Slider1 likes this.
  4. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    For music that's out of copyright, or even out of print, you could actually make this a money-making resource for your band with a bit of thought. Offer post-digitisation PDF copies for sale for a small fee? There's a company called Dover Edition that made a lot of money by reprinting and selling old Breitkopf and Hartel scores of Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, etc when they went out of copyright.

    I also wouldn't be surprised if the Brass Band Archive in Wigan or even one of the Universities would have some interest if there's a decent amount of old stuff there. There's a librarian in charge of the Roy Newsome archive at Salford Uni who might be interested in helping in return for access to the catalogue - he might at least able to suggest who could do the digitising. Can't remember his name off the top of my head but I've got it at home somewhere, will try and look it out later - Google is probably your friend though. There's a company in Huddersfield called Jeremy Mills Publishing who used to do out-of-print digitising, albeit more for books and they wouldn't want to come to you, I don't think. The only companies I can think of that might do it on-site would be the larger facilities management/document management companies, I doubt they would want to take on a one-off project with limited ongoing revenue and a tight budget. If I have any other thoughts I'll post them here.

    One thing to check (and apologies if you've already considered this) is that even if the music is out of copyright, sometimes the edition or typesetting isn't, especially if the music was re-issued some time after its first publication. Unlikely to affect much brass band music (more an issue for recent editions of Handel, Bach, etc) but just be careful.
  5. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Catherine,
    There is no issue on doing this for music that is now in the Public Domain - that may well vary depending on where you are as US and European laws are different in this respect. There is a fact sheet here tMP Copyright FAQ and Information Fact Sheet | theMouthPiece.com Brass Band Forum that you will find useful.

    Compiling this fact sheet itself wasn't without challenges and the then site owner had many issues with representatives from the PRS which nearly resulted in the site being closed down - we generally guide users to this fact sheet as it has undergone a lot of scrutiny from PRS.

    As to who could do this - there are many companies out there who offer scanning services to corporate customers - my previous employers used such a service for digitising thousands of old documents some of which were many years old - this search result from Google might help you: Google
  6. Ray Morris

    Ray Morris New Member

    Sheet music generally has to be hand fed into a scanner instead of being fed from a magazine. Reasons for this include: Varying page sizes, two pages joined side by side, back and front printing, fragile pages. Some old music is on oversize pages too large to fit in many A4 scanners. If you reduce those oversize pages to fit on A3 or A4 paper and then print them, the notes might be too small for your older musicians to read accurately. March cards generally need to be enlarged to A4 size if they are to be read from music stands one metre distant from the eyes of older musicians. You best hope would be to get one of your band members to do the scanning job for reasonable remuneration.

    Copyright laws urgently need to be modernized to recognize the need for making backup copies of sheet music while finding a way to protect the copyright holders. Copyright laws also need to make provision for paperless music (where sheet music images are read from laptop computers or tablets. Otherwise every musician will become a lawbreaker. Sheet music from recent decades includes the publisher's copyright date but older sheet music contains the publisher's name but no date. Music librarians need to be able to have online access to a database of copyright information for sheet music.
    midlandman likes this.
  7. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    Hi Catherine, I'm going to try to approach this from a different perspective and that is the practicality of what you're considering. There are many scanners on the market today that are relatively inexpensive and acquiring your own scanner would allow you to do this on your own time and save you a ton of money. As you scan music, make a backup copy following each scanning session that can be stored at a separate location. What are your plans for the hard copies once they've been scanned? Do you intend to keep them in your library and are simply scanning as insurance again loss by flood, fire, aging etc.? Lots of things to consider and I wish you success in your venture.
  8. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    John - thanks for this. I'm in the same band, and the problem is that there are literally thousands of different items - some are reasonably modern and on A4 paper, some are on very fragile "yellowed" paper, some are on manuscript and some on card. The band do have a scanner/printer but to do a set can take a long time, especially if you include scores. Auto feed wont work in a lot of cases due to the fact it will either potentially rip the original apart or it wont fit. Copyright issues aside, there is a lot of handwritten original work by previous MDs for example, which are irreplaceable due to the one-off nature of manuscript copies and the person in question having died, and ultimately they have to be the key items to keep - not necessarily modern arrangements that can be purchased again
  9. jobriant

    jobriant Member

    I'll second the recommendation that you purchase a large-format scanner and scan the music yourself. Time-consuming? Without a doubt, yes. Worth the time and effort? I would also answer "yes" to this.

    There are surprisingly inexpensive scanners that will handle single pages as large as A3 (or 11"x1 7", which we often encounter in the USA). We use an Epson WorkForce WF-7510, which is available at retail in the USA for US$300 - US$400. We've been using ours heavily for at least 4 years and it holds up well. When we need to print someting, it's inkjet and not 100% waterproof, but has proven to be very durable. If this one ever wears out, we'll buy another one just like it.

    Scanning will also give you the opportunity to get rid of awkward or impossible page turns. There is inexpensive software for manipulating PDF files (we use Corel "PDF Fusion," which is generally available for US$35 - US$50. For some pieces, we scan to JPEG files, import the files into Microsoft Word, and then crop the files so that page turns are where we want them.

    You will also want to devise a uniform scheme for naming the PDF files; our system appears to work well, and I'll be happy to share information on this.

    Jim O'Briant
    Conductor/Staff Arranger
    The Pacific Brass Band
    Salinas, California, USA
  10. MRSH

    MRSH Supporting Member

    Hi - just a thought.........would it be worth while 'asking' (employing!) somebody who is proficient on Sibelius (or any other score notation program) to put all the 'original hand-written' (i.e. not in copyright) stuff on to PC. Depending on the length of the pieces a decent Sibelius operative (!) could easily notate a 10 minute piece in an afternoon. At least then you will always have decent copies of pieces were you ever inclined to perform them?!
  11. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    That is a great idea. As a retired person, I have some time free during some days to do this kind of work. I'm pretty handy on Sib (Taught it for nearly 15 years, used it for longer.) The challenge would probably be reading the handwriting!

    We can discuss a reasonable fee depending on how many bars/pages etc.
  12. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    Would there be any extra charge for the errata sheet ;)
  13. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    No - unless it's not my error! ;-)
  14. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Which is, I suppose, possible - I seem to remember some issues with your offer of proofreading services some time ago....!!!
  15. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I have never claimed to be perfect. And I always miss opportunities to put someone down.
  16. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    My apologies Mike. I was trying to poke some fun at the frequently required errata sheets for test pieces etc. It was not my intent to open you to ridicule.
  17. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    No need to apologise, John, the fault was not yours. :)

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