In its earliest state, F-TEMPO (Full-Text searching of Early Music Prints Online) enabled searching in the musical content of about 30,000 page-images of early printed music from the British Library’s Early Music Online collection (GB-Lbl). The images were processed using the Optical Music Recognition (OMR) program, Aruspix, whose output is saved in the MEI (Music Encoding Initiative) format. To enable fast searches of the MEI, we adopted an indexing strategy that is both scalable and substantially robust to the inevitable errors in the process. In this paper we show how searches using these indexes may be used as a first step in two useful musicological tasks without exhaustively processing the full encodings.
The F-TEMPO resource has subsequently been augmented to about 500,000 images including a large number from the Bavarian State Library in Munich (D-Mbs), and other libraries (D-Bsb, PL-Wn and F-Pn). Most recently, a new and more robust system architecture is in development, together with a new interface conforming better to modern web standards.
The simple, yet robust, indexing method we use can be applied to scores encoded in any format from which strings of pitches each corresponding to a voice or instrument in the score can be derived. In addition to page-images, in its current form F-TEMPO now includes a collection of over 10,000 scores encoded in MusicXML, largely of early music, from the online Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL).
To show the potential for F-TEMPO as a tool for musicologists to explore the full-text content of the collections, we look at two simple tasks: (a) finding pages which contain similar music to a given query page; and (b), given a query representing an approximation to the highest-sounding voice from a lute arrangement of a popular vocal item from the 16th century, finding a likely vocal model within the F-TEMPO index.