Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On THATCampVA and Augmented Notes

On Friday and Saturday, I attended THATCampVA held here at the Scholars' Lab in Charlottesville, VA.  It was a wonderful experience!  In case anyone is unfamiliar with the idea of THATCamp, it's an "unconference," where people who share an interest in digital humanities come together to share ideas and projects in an informal setting.  Rather than conventional conferences, where people read papers and attend pre-scheduled panels, at an unconference, people pitch panel ideas both online in the days before the event and in person, and the panels are then scheduled on the spot.  The panels often have someone leading the discussion or demonstrating a tool, but the majority of the time focuses on everyone sharing their ideas:  essentially, everyone is a panelist.  I attended a very informative session on digital pedagogy on Saturday morning in which we discussed such tools as NowComment, class wikis, class-wide digital projects, and helping undergraduates cultivate their digital presence.  At another great session, we learned to make twitterbots, and I created my own based on one designed by Wayne Graham.  During lunch, we all heard some #dorkshorts, in which attendees have three minutes to demonstrate a digital project.  We heard fascinating presentations on the new design and features of the Collective Biographies of Women project and QLTP, a project that helps people create editions of Latin texts.  I also presented on "Augmented Notes" and "Songs of the Victorians" during this time, and got some great feedback.  In the afternoon I attended a really interesting panel on tools to analyze audio.  THATCampVA was wonderful, and I'm glad I was able to participate.

In other digital news, the code for "Augmented Notes" is now up on GitHub. If you want to look at how it works and to play with it, you can fork it and make any changes you want!  Also, I added a new feature:  on the "Box Drawing" page, users can now click on the "Align Boxes" to make all boxes the same height.  This should help produce a cleaner archive page for those who wish their boxes to be uniform.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Augmented Notes Has a Sandbox

I have two important pieces of news regarding "Augmented Notes":  first, I have straightened out the domain name glitches, so visiting http://www.augmentednotes.com will no longer redirect you to http://augnotes.appspot.com.  Second, I have added a sandbox feature so that users who want to try "Augmented Notes" do not have to have their own files.  Simply click here or go to the "Augmented Notes" homepage and click where it says "Click here."  Users will be taken to a site with sample files of Bach's Prelude No. 1 in C major (BWV 846) (audio recording performed by Martha Goldstein).  Users can then draw a box around each measure, set the exact end time for each measure, and then click "download zip file" to get a zip file with the html, css, and javascript files necessary for an archive page like those at "Songs of the Victorians."

Please try it out, and let me know what you think! I'd love to hear your feedback!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Invited Talk on Augmented Notes

On Friday, I had the honor of giving a talk, called "From the Parlor to the Laptop: Victorian Lyrics and Digital Tools," at Columbia University about Songs of the Victorians and Augmented Notes.  Alex Gil, the Digital Scholarship Coordinator there and fellow Praxis Program alum, invited me as part of Studio@Butler's digital humanities speaker series.  I really enjoyed the format of the afternoon:  first, I delivered my talk and we had a question and answer session, and then, after a short break, we reconvened for a workshop in which I walked the participants through making their own website with Augmented Notes.

In my talk, I first explained the purpose and rationale behind building Songs of the Victorians, demonstrated the how archive and analysis pages work, and explained the design principles that governed the project.  Then, I shifted to a discussion of Augmented Notes.  I explained that I wanted to help other scholars build sites like Songs of the Victorians without needing the programming experience that I had to develop.  I demonstrated how I took my initial project and built a generalized, public humanities tool to help further scholarship and pedagogy.  I also gave a brief demo of the tool, which I showed off in more depth in the workshop.  The tool has changed slightly since I last wrote about it on this blog, so here is the new order of the steps:

1. Users upload three things to make an archive page: ogg and mp3 audio files (an ogg is necessary because firefox can't play mp3 files) and pages of the score. Users can optionally upload an MEI file.
2. The site then takes users to a page where they click and drag to draw boxes around each measures (they can also edit the sizes and order of these boxes); these boxes are what highlights each measure in time with the music.
Box Drawing Page: Boxes are red as they are being drawn (through clicking and dragging) and grey once they have been created.  Users can edit the boxes by changing their size and order and also delete them.

3. The site then takes users to a page to set the time data:  they hit the "save" button at the exact second each measure ends to record that time.  The site brings together the measure and time information, which enables each measure of the song to be highlighted in time with the music.

Time Edit: Users click on the "save" button at the exact end of every measure, which records that time in the open boxes at the right.  
4. Users then click "Download zip" to download a zip file with the html, css, and javascript files necessary for a complete archive page, which they can then style themselves. A sample resulting html file is below:

I was very grateful for all the fascinating suggestions and feedback I received in the question and answer period.  Some people suggested that I should consider altering the box-drawing tool to let users draw any shape they want:  this would let users circle individual notes and entire phrases.  At some point, I would love to add this functionality, although I will not have time to build it until next fall, because I am currently teaching, finishing my dissertation, and going on the job market.  I was also pleased to hear that some people are planning to use my tool for the classroom, especially in music appreciation or introductory music classes to help beginning music students follow along.

If you have any comments on the new features in Augmented Notes or ideas for future features, please do let me know! I'd love to hear your feedback!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Rails Girls: A Programming Space for Women

On Saturday, I was one of a number of coaches for Rails Girls at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.  This wonderful event is designed to help teach women the basics of Ruby and Ruby on Rails, and to ultimately help them build an application.  It was an excellent experience:  I was so impressed with how quickly all the attendees picked up the basics of the command line, programming, and web development.  

For those of you who would like to see exactly what we covered, we first went through much of Ruby in 100 Minutes and then jumped right in with building a Ruby on Rails address book application that lets users input their name, twitter info, picture, bio, and address, and then plots the address on a map.  Students who wanted a further challenge then followed instructions to put their app online using Heroku.  For example, Elizabeth Hopwood, one of the attendees I worked with, put her excellent app online and populated it with "Downtown Abbey" characters. 

I'm so grateful to Jeri Wieringa and Celeste Sharpe for organizing this event.  I'm thrilled to have been part of something that helps teach women how to code and that can actually help change the programming culture:  on numerous occasions at conferences, I've had people insist that I couldn't have created my two digital projects and that, as a woman, I must be taking credit for the programming work of a man.  Programs like Rails Girls can help change those horrible perceptions, by helping women feel welcomed into coding and into a supportive programming community and by publicly claiming programming spaces for women.  

I look forward to hearing of future Rails Girls events, and I hope to volunteer as a coach for other similar nearby programs in the future.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Songs of the Victorians is complete!

I am happy to report that with today's release of Arthur Somervell's "Come into the Garden, Maud" (1898), Songs of the Victorians is complete! This song joins three others--Caroline Norton's "Juanita" (1853), Michael William Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud" (1857), and Sir Arthur Sullivan's "The Lost Chord" (1877)--and, as before, includes an archive page (which includes a high-resolution scan of the first edition printing of the song integrated with an audio file, so each measure is highlighted in time with the music) and an analysis page (which includes an article-length essay on the song's interpretation of the poem it sets with musical excerpts of the score that are highlighted in time with the music).

Unlike Balfe's parlor song setting of the same text, which was designed for home performance and uses harmonic changes to critique the speaker's insanity, Somervell's art song setting was designed for public performance in a concert hall and presents a more sympathetic portrait of the speaker.  Although the song has harmonic irregularities, they are of short duration and therefore appear hidden in the song even more than in Balfe's setting.  This results in a musical depiction of the speaker from within the prison of his own mind rather than a critique of him from an external perspective.

Although Somervell's setting marks the end of this stage of development for Songs of the Victorians  the project will not lie dormant.  I plan to add new material over the next few years, and I am also seriously contemplating accepting submissions from other scholars (I have already had some volunteers) starting in the fall of 2014.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Songs of the Victorians:  it's always nice to hear feedback, so leave comments below!

Keep following this blog for updates on future plans and for development information on Augmented Notes!

Monday, July 29, 2013

New Content: Arthur Sullivan's "The Lost Chord" Live on Songs of the Victorians

I've now added new content to Songs of the Victorians!  Users can now view the archive page and the analysis page of Sir Arthur Sullivan's "The Lost Chord" (1877), a song setting of Adelaide Procter's "A Lost Chord" (1860).  Many of you may know "The Lost Chord," since it, along with Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud," is one of the most famous Victorian parlor songs.  It has often been interpreted as a sentimental poem about the vital importance of religion and religious music in an uncertain world, but these interpretations do not take into account the surprising harmonic twists and the publication contexts of the poem (the poem was first published in The Englishwoman's Journal, a feminist periodical, and later in Legends and Lyrics, a volume of Procter's collected works).  I'm arguing that the song actually undercuts the expected sentimental solace and gives the poem new access to the political and social message of its two publication contexts: it unites the feminist and the religiously questioning reading.  By examining the musical reception history of Procter’s poem through multiple incarnations and remediations, we can rediscover this “lost chord,” hear its overlooked commentaries on women’s lives and religious doubt, and reinstate it in the polyphony of critical discourse.

The final section of Songs of the Victorians (until I start accepting submissions from other scholars), on Arthur Somervell's Maud (1898), a song cycle that uses Alfred Tennyson's monodrama Maud (1855) as text, is almost done.  I hope to have it go live next week.

I'd love to hear your comments on this new section, so please leave your thoughts below.  Thanks!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I'm back in Charlottesville after five weeks of traveling in Europe for conferences.  I had a wonderful time both at NAVSA Venice (read my thoughts on the conference and workshop here) and at the Ninth Biennial Conference on Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain, held in Cardiff.  I met many scholars whose work I've admired and quoted for years and met many new colleagues and friends, and Songs of the Victorians received an enthusiastic response.  Next week, I'll be posting news about more updates to Songs of the Victorians (including, I hope, an announcement that the archive and analysis pages for the next song are live).

For this week, I wanted to inform you of two interviews I've given since getting back in the country about my digital projects.  First, I was interviewed by feminist blogger Jaclyn Munson for "Onward and F-Word" as part of her "women to watch series" about my research, digital projects, and investment in feminism.  I was honored to be the first woman interviewed in this group, and you can read the interview here.

This morning, my interview about Augmented Notes with Hope Leman for Critical Margins went live. As many of you probably know, Critical Margins is a blog on "book culture, technology, reading, and publishing in the digital age."  My interview is part of a series that Hope is conducting about advances in digital publishing, and I'm thrilled to be included.  If you want to learn more about Augmented Notes, you can read that interview here.

More next week!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Professionalization Workshop & Venice Conference Update

Greetings from Munich!

It’s been an eventful two and a half weeks!  I spent a wonderful week as a participant at a Professionalization Workshop in Venice, organized by Dino Felluga and a joint venture of NAVSA/BAVS/AVSA (the North American, British, and Australasian Victorian Societies).  The workshop was held on a little island called San Servolo, about a ten minute vaporetto ride away from Venice.  We dedicated a day each to conferences, grants, and publications, and we had a perfect combination of listening to lectures from guest speakers, asking questions, and practicing the principles we learned.  Our activities involved workshopping our own conference proposals, writing part of a sample grant proposal, and looking at the introductory paragraphs for multiple publications so we could get a sense for the different styles each journal has.  The final two days of the workshop included a crash course on the job market:  we learned about the differences between the American, Canadian, UK, Australasian, and continental European job market, and we also learned more about what makes a good cover letter, writing sample, cv, and teaching statement.  We were also given tons of examples of each type of document, so I have no lack of models as I draft my own materials for the market in September.  We also heard about alt-ac job options, the role digital humanities will play in changing the field, and the differences between liberal arts colleges and larger research universities.

In addition to new information, we also gained new acquaintances:  there were 39 of us in the workshop from the US, Canada, UK, Australasia, and continental Europe, and after a week of eating together, chatting about our fears of the job market, and being roommates (we were three to a room), we got to know each other well and to become not just colleagues, but friends.  We also got to know many professors more closely, both because we were paired with a faculty mentor for the workshop and conference (mine was Catherine Robson) and because we spent time chatting with them during coffee and lunch breaks and as we waited for the vaporetto to arrive.  These connections helped make the ensuing conference even more enjoyable.

After the workshop, the supernumerary conference began.  Feel free to check out the twitter hashtag #glocal19 to follow the conversation from home.  Although I’ve been to many conferences (and organized one myself), this was by far the best conference I’ve ever attended.  The papers, which were well-written and well-presented, formed coherent and thought-provoking panels, and the Q&A sessions for each were especially informative and spilled over into excellent discussions long after the sessions ended.  The conference included additional, non-traditional activities as well:  there were “first-come, first-serve,” works-in-progress, and material culture seminars.   I sat in on an excellent “first-come, first-serve” seminar, run by Marjorie Stone and Beverly Taylor on the “The Risorgimento, 19th-Century Movements, and the Transnation” where presenters submitted a 5-page position paper in advance and participants would spend an hour discussing them.  I also attended a material culture seminar by Cornelia Pearsall on Robert Browning’s “A Toccata of Galuppi’s,” which was especially a treat because I had presented on the same poem the previous day and was therefore able to hear and respond to multiple new perspectives on a work with which I was very familiar.  I also participated in Pamela Gilbert’s works-in-progress seminar, for which we were all given a chapter of her new book project in advance, and we asked her questions about the scope of the project and particular elements of her argument.  It was especially illuminating for my own work, as a section of the chapter I’m currently revising addresses a topic she discussed. Throughout the conference, everyone was friendly, generous with their time, and genuinely interested in talking with junior scholars about their work.  It was a truly lovely time, and I think all the participants will miss Venice as well as the friends, conversations, and experiences we associate with it.

As I write this, I’m currently on a train to Vienna, where I will be for a week, seeing the manifold musical sites as I continue working on Augments Notes, on Songs of the Victorians, and on revising my chapter and my job market documents.  After Vienna, I’ll be at Cardiff to present on Caroline Norton’s “Juanita” with the help of Songs of the Victorians.  I’m looking forward to presenting my ideas to an audience composed predominantly of musicologists.


Monday, May 13, 2013

European Academic Adventure TIme!

I don't have any updates on Songs of the Victorians or Augmented Notes for today, because I spent last week finishing up the third chapter of my dissertation, polishing my writing sample for the job market, and working on my talk for NAVSA/BAVS/AVSA in Venice! I'll be presenting on Robert Browning's "A Toccata of Galuppi's," although my talk is not actually part of my dissertation, and I'll also be attending the professionalization workshop, where I'll learn more about the job market, grant writing, and tenure from experts in the field.  I plan to make lots of progress on Augmented Notes this week, and I'll add the Sullivan section of Songs of the Victorians soon, but I don't anticipate making any of these changes public until after NAVSA/BAVS/AVSA.

I'll actually be in Europe until the end of June, because I'll also be presenting at the Ninth Biennial Conference on Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain (MNBC) in Cardiff.  I'm on a panel with Phyllis Weliver, Alisa Clapp-Itnyre, and Donna Parsons, organized and moderated by Maura Dunst, and I'm thrilled to meet and to present alongside other scholars who are interested in the connections between music and Victorian poetry.  I'm giving a version of my paper on Caroline Norton's "Juanita," the first analysis I put on Songs of the Victorians, and I'm looking forward to demonstrating my project and "Juanita" analysis page at a music conference, since I've presented more frequently at English conferences.

I'll still post updates here about both my projects, but don't expect one until I arrive in Europe, and possibly not until after NAVSA/BAVS/AVSA (an acronym I'm enjoying more than I should).

Monday, May 6, 2013

New Content for Songs of the Victorians!

Today, I added new content to Songs of the Victorians:  specifically, I incorporated my analysis of Tennyson's Maud (1855) and of Michael William Balfe's setting (1857) of it.  Some of you may have heard of Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud," since it is one of the most famous (and most parodied) Victorian songs.  It was widely considered to be a fairly traditional love song in which a man waits in a garden for the woman he desires and sings of his affection for her, and many critics faulted it for being too sentimental.  I'm arguing that, while the song can be performed to sound like a traditional love song, it also gives voice to the speaker’s insanity, violent tendencies, and repetitive, obsessive speech through harmonic instability.  As with the "analysis" page for Caroline Norton's "Juanita," users can read my analysis and then click on the icon of a speaker interspersed throughout the analysis to see and hear the musical excerpts:  for each excerpt, a box, highlighting each measure, will move in time with the music so that all readers, regardless of musical expertise, can follow the score and my argument.

I'm planning to add my analysis of Sir Arthur Sullivan's "The Lost Chord" (1877) around the end of May/beginning of June, and then add my analysis of Sir Arthur Somervell's Maud (1898) around the end of June/beginning of July.  I'll make sure to post updates or changes to that schedule here and through my twitter account (@annieswafford) to keep everyone in the loop.

In the interim, please feel free to leave a comment on my blog! I'd love to know your thoughts about Songs of the Victorians:  are you enjoying it?  Have you used it in a particularly interesting way? (I've heard from one kind reader that he used the archive page it to learn how to play one of the songs for residents in a a retirement community who had requested it.)  Are you incorporating it in your classroom?  I'd be curious to hear how the site is being used!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Scholars' Lab Talk Podcast from April 3rd!

As I wrote in a post a a few weeks ago, I gave a talk in the Scholars' Lab about Songs of the Victorians and Augmented Notes on April 3rd.  My talk was recorded, and the podcast is now available through iTunesU here (it's called "Victorian Songs and Digital Tools: Facilitating Sound Studies Scholarship").

For those of you who wish to see my slides from the talk, you can view them by following this link.

I've been busy attending conferences and traveling over the last two weeks, so I haven't made many programming advances, but this coming week, I'll be revising the analysis section for Michael William Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud."  It will be up by next Friday, and I'll post and tweet about it once it's up.

More advances in programming and content next week!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Augmented Notes is Almost Done!

It's been another exciting week for Songs of the Victorians and Augmented Notes, both in terms of publicity and actually development progress.

I had been asked to write a guest post for ProfHacker, the excellent blog portion of The Chronicle of Higher Education that provides "Tips about teaching, technology, and productivity," and my post was published last Tuesday!  I wrote about the launch of Songs of the Victorians and about the difficulty of navigating "Browser hell" (the compatibility issues that result from designing for multiple browsers) and how a tool called BrowserStack can help.  You can view the post here.  I was pleased with the positive feedback I received on twitter, email, and blogs.  I was particularly touched by the incredibly generous comments and praise I received from Professor Bruce Holsinger, a prominent Medievalist at UVa and a member of my dissertation committee:  he wrote a blog post about my ProfHacker article and Songs of the Victorians and its contributions to scholarship.  Thanks, Bruce!!

The other exciting news is that I have built the functionality for Augmented Notes (beta version)!  Now, after users have uploaded their mp3, OGG, MEI, and image files, and have used the "Set Measure Times" selector to record the ending time for each measure (this step controls the measure highlighting), clicking on the "Submit the Times" button will output a .zip file that includes the image files, javascript, css, and html files necessary to have a working archive page.  This archive page is very plain:  it contains only a white background, the score, and the audio file, but it does highlight each measure in time with the music.  
Sample archive page produced by Augmented Notes

I'll spend the next few weeks polishing the system and writing clear instructions for users, and I'll make an official announcement about a launch date soon.  But before I can plan a launch date, I'd like your advice as to what additional features would be useful for Augmented Notes.  

Would you:
1. like user accounts that save your data? This feature would let users access data from an earlier song and add data for a new song that could be grouped with the first song.
2. like a more interesting background for the template archive page?  If so, should it be a different color?  Should it use the background from Augmented Notes (a public domain scan of the manuscript of Franz Schubert's "An Die Musik")?
3. like an instructional video that walks you each step of the system in addition to the directions at the top of every page?

Please leave your feedback in a comment here:  I want Augmented Notes to be as useful as possible, and this is your chance to have your say about the beta version of the tool.

Thanks! I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Augmented Notes Accepts MEI!

First, happy Day of DH!  For those of you who are new to this idea, it's a day when many digital humanists document every detail about their life that day to give everyone a sense of what it's like to be a DHer.  I decided not to sign up for it this year, but I still think it's a great idea.  You can follow the twitter hashtag #DayofDH to see what everyone else is up to and to better understand what digital humanities really is.

In other news, last Wednesday at noon, I gave a talk on Songs of the Victorians and Augmented Notes for the Scholars' Lab: it was a great experience and I got lots of helpful comments and positive feedback. Thanks to all of you who were able to attend!  The podcast should be available by April 19th, and once it is, I'll post it (or a link to it) here along with the slides from my talk.

Also, I just found out that a post I wrote for the The Chronicle of Higher Education's blog ProfHacker will be online tomorrow morning at 8am:  I wrote about the launch of Songs of the Victorians and about the difficulty of navigating "Browser hell" (the compatibility issues that result from designing for multiple browsers) and how a tool called BrowserStack can help.  I'll include a link to the post here on my blog once it goes live.

The biggest development news is that Augmented Notes now accepts MEI!!   For those of you who don't know, MEI is a type of xml for music, and it's a really great way to encode music in a scholarly format.  It was developed by Perry Roland in the music library at the University of Virginia.  Some of you may be more familiar with MusicXML, another xml markup for music, but it's used mainly for formatting music so it can be rendered properly, which is why it's mainly used in such music composition programs as Sibelius and Finale.  MEI, unlike MusicXML, is designed for more scholarly, analytical markup, and it's quickly becoming the standard tool for scholarly digital editions of scores. If you'd like to learn more about how it works, look at this helpful tutorial or subscribe to this mailing list.

I had always planned to use MEI in Augmented Notes, but I had been running into difficulty getting the google app engine to parse the xml: I needed it to support lxml, a python library, but it didn't work properly. As a workaround, I originally built it to take a javascript file (specifically, a JSON file) that contained the pixel positions of each measure, which I would then use to create the boxes that highlight each measure in time with the music.  But as of yesterday, I figured out how to get the google app engine to support lxml, so the site can now accept MEI files that preserve pixel positions for each measure as well as a javascript file!

For this week, I plan to learn how to make Augmented Notes output a zip file once the "submit times" button is clicked.  Once I build that functionality, I can start figuring out how to make it output a zip file with everything users need to build their own site like Songs of the Victorians.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Archive Page Available for Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud"

This week, I've been preparing for my Scholars' Lab talk on Wednesday, April 3rd at noon.  I'll be speaking about Songs of the Victorians  and Augmented Notes and demonstrating both of them.  Here's the poster Ronda Grizzle designed for it:

I hope I'll see you there if you live in the area!  There will be a podcast of the talk, and I'll also put my slides up on my blog. 

To help with the upcoming talk, I added the archive page for Michael William Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud".  I'll be adding the analysis page in the next few weeks.

In terms of Augmented Notes development, I added a new feature that lets users upload multiple pages of a score.  Users can click on the "+ Add another page" link, and a new upload button appears:

Over this coming week, I will try to add two new features: 1. When users click the submit button after setting the measure times, the measure time information will be added to a JSON file;  and 2. Once the previous feature is built, the site will output a .zip file with the html, css, and javascript files necessary for users to have their own very basic archive page like those in Songs of the Victorians.

Stay tuned for a blog post later this week with my slides from my talk!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Designing Augmented Notes

After a week's hiatus from this blog in honor of the success of the pre-release of Songs of the Victorians, I'm ready to get back to providing weekly updates on my digital projects.

First, I'm pleased to report that in the two weeks Songs of the Victorians launched, it has received approximately 710 visits from 545 visitors spanning 5 of the 7 continents, 23 countries, and 282 cities!  I've been thrilled by all the positive feedback I've received.  Thanks to everyone for the support!  I will endeavor to add a new song for each of the next three months.  In the interim, iOS users (iPod, iPad, etc.) can now enjoy Songs of the Victorians as well (previously, the audio file would not play properly on the archive or analysis view).  Please let me know if you have more feedback on the content or design: I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I also have some exciting news about Augmented Notes, my tool that will enable users to make their own site like Songs of the Victorians (read this post for more information)!  Although I don't yet have a release date scheduled for the beta version of the site (that info will hopefully be ready next week), I did make some important design decisions and finish building the first half of the project.  I knew that I wanted to incorporate the logo I designed and wrote about in this post and that I wanted the background image to incorporate music.  I also wanted to use a similar layout to Songs of the Victorians as an implicit way of branding my work and reminding users that Songs of the Victorians is made through Augmented Notes.  Once I found a public domain scan of the manuscript of Franz Schubert's "An Die Musik" (1817), I knew I had found my background image.  The song uses as its lyrics a poem by Schubert's friend Franz von Schober, and is a song in praise of music and its transformative power:  since Augmented Notes facilitates music and text scholarship, this song perfectly encapsulates the project's goals. Here's a draft of the homepage:

When users visit the site, they will upload an mp3 and ogg vorbis version of the audio file of the song (.ogg is necessary for the music to play in Firefox), an MEI file containing the position information for each measure, and pages of the score.  Clicking on the "submit" button will take them to the next page, where the files they uploaded will be used to help users generate the time information for each measure:

The "Set Measures Times" page contains a score, audio file, audio controls, and a bunch of text input fields, each of which corresponds to a measure of music. Users will hit the play button to start the audio file and then hit the "save" button at the end of each measure.  This action will fill in the corresponding input fields with the end time of each measure, and users can hit "previous" or "next" to play the preceding or ensuing measure to refine their time data.  Once each measure time is accurate, users can click the "submit the times" button, which will save the data.  For its beta release, Augmented Notes will then output a zip file that contains all the necessary html, .js, and css files necessary to create a page like the archive page for "Juanita" in Songs of the Victorians.  After that is released, I will also create an excerpt page that lets users customize excerpts for analytical arguments like those seen in the analysis page for "Juanita" in Songs of the Victorians.

I know I still need to tweak the logo to find a better font, but I'd to hear love any suggestions you might have, either for that or for any other component!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Songs of the Victorians is Live!

As of 9:30am EST, Songs of the Victorians (http://www.songsofthevictorians.com) went live!  It's been quite the adventure preparing for this limited release launch, but it's turned out well.  As you can see from the twitter feed, I've received a lot of positive feedback and very generous assistance in spreading the word.  Feel free to leave comments or advice on the project at the end of this post:  I'd love to hear your suggestions!

In the interim, I’ll give you a guided tour of the site and its rationale:

If you’re new to this blog and want to learn more about Songs of the Victorians and its purpose, then check out this “about” page from Songs of the Victorians and this earlier blog post.

Click here if you want to see the archive page for Caroline Norton's "Juanita" or here if you want to read my article on the song, complete with musical excerpts highlighted in time with the audio file.

Go to my "Songs" page to see the other three songs that will be a part of Songs of the Victorians in the next few months.

If you want an explanation behind the design of the home page, check out this post on why and how I modeled it on Victorian sheet music.

If you’ve seen earlier versions of Songs of the Victorians from conferences and are confused by the complete aesthetic change, then read this post about the redesign.

If you want to know what the workflow looks like to put a song into my site, then read my previous blog post.

And finally, if you want to know more about the logo for Augmented Notes on the lower right hand corner of each page, then read this post about the tool I’m building that powers this site (and may some day power yours!).

Thank you again for all your encouragement and support!  Please help me spread the word and write comments below so I can get even more feedback before I release the remaining three songs!