Indexing and managing song recordings for e-publication

Allan Marett and I spent yesterday meeting with the good folks from Sydney e-Scholarship regarding a publication project we have to archive some of our song recordings in the University of Sydney Library’s Dspace repository and then link to them from an electronic publication we are developing about six repertories of wangga songs from the Daly region. The exciting thing about electronic publication is that we can embed the audio directly within the text, allowing us to cite our primary data in a much more immediate way (something that humanities scholars dealing with images and text have had available to them for a long time).
For those who haven’t caught up with Allan’s recent book Songs Dreamings and Ghosts (Wesleyan University Press, 2005), wangga is a genre of didjeridu-accompanied songs originating in the Daly region of the Top End. Generally speaking, each singer has composed or inherited a repertory of somewhere between 10 and 40 songs, which are performed in different combinations depending on the performance context.
The idea for the new book we are working on with linguist Lys Ford is to present and discuss linguistic and musical features of about 100 different song texts from six repertories in five endangered languages of the Daly Region: Batjamalh, Emmi, Mendhe, Marri Tjabin and Marri Ammu. Tommy Berrtjep, Bobby Lane , Jimmy Mulluk , and Billy Mandji were the main singers and composers of the four repertories from Belyuen NT, while Thomas Kungiung, Martin Warrigal Kungiung, John Dumoo, Wagin Dumoo, Charlie Brinkin and Maurice Ngulkur were the main composers involved with the two repertories from Wadeye NT (the Walakandha wangga and the Ma-yawa wangga).
So, we decided that to support the publication and preserve the archival integrity of the recordings, we would deposit in Dspace:
1. the master soundfile of the whole recording, named according to our fieldtape number
e.g. Marett_DAT98-11.wav (Marett fieldtape DAT98/11).
2. excerpted soundfiles of each song on the recording, named in sequence based on the fieldtape
e.g. Marett_DAT98-11-s01.wav (first song on the master recording). 128kbps MP3 files for web delivery will also be produced, named according to the same scheme but (of course!) with .mp3 extension.
3. text or image file indicating the start and end timecodes of the excerpted files within the master recording.
Usually for sound editing I use Sound Studio 3 on my Mac running OS10.4.6. This has the advantage of being able to produce mp3 files directly from within the application, as well as all the standard sound editing capabilities. Some Macs come with Sound Studio already loaded, but if you need to buy a license it’s not too expensive ($US40.20 with education discount). I save marker information indicating song start and end points within the file (with AIFF this marker information is saved in the file header). Unfortunately there appears to be no way to export this marker information from within Sound Studio, so I’ve been saving a screen grab of the marker window as a graphic to archive along with the sound file. It would obviously be much more flexible and archivally sound to archive an xml or text file with the timecode information. I believe Audacity (free cross-platform sound editor) allows you to export marker (‘label’) information so I might investigate using that in future.
So once some of the relevant files are safely archived in the Library’s Dspace, I’ll report back here. The idea is that the text of the book will point to both the archival files in Dspace and the mp3 surrogates (which may or may not be archived in Dspace as well). Each file in Dspace gets its own digital object identifier in the form of a handle, a unique persistent web address, meaning that the reference to the sound file in the publication will remain even when servers and other elements of the web architecture change (for more information see the Handle System website).

1 thought on “Indexing and managing song recordings for e-publication”

  1. I did the Audacity label export and it works fine. I just wanted to get the major timecode chunks for a recording of nine hymns that I had made, so the labels come out in a simple timecode format that I then stuck right into Audiamus and they are then each accessible.

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