In this paper, we present a toolkit built on a reusable Linked Data framework supporting the creation of bespoke user interfaces for live events in which a scholar’s observations can be recorded. These observations are published as Linked Data annotations and, where the observations and media are accessible in a digital library, they can be subsequently played back in a synchronised, navigable interface.
Since requirements for such interfaces vary widely depending on the events and the interests of the scholars involved, each interface is also likely to be different, and so we propose a toolkit rather than a single tool.
Annotating scores during live events supports private analysis and the communication of musicological observations, and offers useful opportunities for indexing recorded media, so enhancing access in larger digital libraries. Although audio-visual recordings preserve high levels of detail, they can be hard to search or summarise; annotations with musical and musicological insights add structure that improves user navigation. Such annotations require carefully defined semantics and consideration of the balance between expressive sophistication and complexity of data and authoring interfaces (alongside the differing requirements of scholars).
We describe our toolkit and its use in developing a tablet-based app for musicologists during a masterclass of Delius’s String Quartet. We further show adaptations made to the app to respond to its shortcomings.
For scholarship in the arts and humanities, it is vital to have tools that are tailored to the specific requirements of the scholars involved and the events being annotated. We compare the highly-prescribed nature of the annotations in the Delius case with prior work involving a musicologist recording observations digitally on a score and pad during a live opera performance. This comparison leads us into a discussion of the balance between freedom and expressive power on the one hand and semantic precision on the other, finding a balance that still presents an interface that does not overly encumber a user annotating in real time is an important design consideration.
We conclude that a musically-aware but generic toolkit such as ours can provide valuable support for musicological research, provided care is given to planning and design and when this balance between expression and complexity of annotations is taken into account.