OpenScore: How you can get involved!

Posted 6 years ago

Thanks to the 1000+ backers who made the OpenScore Kickstarter a success! The campaign was the culmination of over 10 months of planning and hard work, and we're absolutely thrilled to see it come to fruition! There's no time to rest though, because now the real works begins: transcribing, checking and creating OpenScore editions.

How to get involved

There are a few ways you can help:

  1. Send us a transcription you have already done (here’s how).
  2. Reserve a piece to transcribe on your own (see this page).
  3. Sign-up to take part in a group transcription (sign-up here).

We will invite more experienced transcribers to take on additional responsibilities, such as helping to review submissions and supervise group transcriptions. There will also be opportunities for skilled engravers to make their mark, by polishing up submissions that wouldn't otherwise make the cut. This may be necessary if a score is submitted in MusicXML format rather than MuseScore format, or to ensure consistency between sections of a score that were transcribed by different people. In such cases, the engraver would be credited along with the transcriber in the OpenScore Edition.

What to transcribe

We’ve had an amazing response already, and the main problem we have now is keeping up with the demand! As you know, we want to liberate all public domain music. However, for the time being we will only accept transcriptions of pieces which were liberated by the Kickstarter campaign (see list). This is done for two reasons. Firstly, as a courtesy to backers who paid to see a particular piece liberated. Secondly, we do not yet have the tools and infrastructure in place to liberate all public domain music (that’s why we ran the Kickstarter in the first place!) so we need to prioritize until we do have them in place. Only after we have made significant progress with the Kickstarter pieces will we begin to look at others.

The Kickstarter campaign promised to liberate 100 pieces. This was a number we felt we could deliver with our current resources. While work is underway on this initial set of pieces, we will also be developing the website to make it easier to contribute more pieces in the future. We hope that you will be patient with us as we prepare for the next stage of development. The pace might seem a bit slow at first, but it should accelerate as the new tools become available.

One of the first things to look forward to is a tool to leave a comment directly on a particular part of a score. This will allow reviewers to point out exactly where mistakes occur so that they can be corrected quickly and easily. There will also be special rewards and badges for contributors to earn, which will be displayed on their MuseScore profiles. We're still in the process of deciding how these will work, but we will make that they can be earned retrospectively, so existing contributions will not be overlooked.

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OpenScore: First editions available! How to submit scores. shoogle's blog OpenScore: Choosing a source edition


One of the pieces on Kickstarter Liberated Works that someone has paid to liberate is Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" which is listed as Available [to transcribe]. But there's already a number of transcriptions of this piece on IMSLP, including one done with MuseScore!
Taking a much larger score for another example, Kickstarter Liberated Works lists JS Bach B Minor Mass BWV232 as a piece that someone has paid to liberate – and is Available [to transcribe] but CPDL already has two versions of this piece, one in full score and one in vocal score. Admittedly neither version is done with MuseScore but so what? The piece is manifestly liberated already.
With so much material available on IMSLP (including WIMA), CPDL etc, I'm left wondering what exactly is MuseScore OpenScore trying to achieve? That is to say, what's it trying to achieve that isn't already being achieved elsewhere?

In reply to by s.chriscollins

Interesting point. It appears that you are saying you want music files (e.g. .mscz, .xml, .sib etc) to work with and reformat as required, rather than graphic files (e.g.pdf).
I have just downloaded "Maple Leaf Rag" from IMSLP in both .mscz and .xml files.
It still leaves me wondering why MuseScore OpenScore is soliciting donations to "liberate" music that's already freely available.
I mean, by the standards of groups (community and semi-professional) that I work with and have worked with, EU 51,249 (AUD 76,982) is an absolute fortune that could achieve heaps of artistic goals WITHOUT duplicating work that's already been done.
I was about to schedule a few hours each week to contribute some transcribing to this project (I'm semi-retired and have a bit of time) until I realised that a lot of my effort might just duplicate resources that are already available and not too hard to find.

In reply to by Bazza55

Apparently someone took it upon themselves to upload a MuseScore version of the Maple Leaf Rag to IMSLP. I haven't looked at it so I don't know if the quality is good. Were good techniques used to enter the score? Is it accurate according to the oringinal? If the answer to both of these is yes, then OpenSource should not waste effort on this.

In reply to by Bazza55

Nobody paid to liberate "Maple Leaf Rag", but someone did pay to liberate Scott Joplin and "Maple Leaf Rag" was selected as the Joplin piece to be liberated. Since there is already a transcription of this piece I can simply select a different Joplin piece for liberation.

However, although they don't apply in this case, it should be noted that there can be advantages to redoing pieces for OpenScore that have been done elsewhere:

  1. The existing transcription might only be available in PDF format and not as engraving files.
  2. Any engraving files might not be available in a universally compatible format like MusicXML.
  3. The existing transcription might be under a restrictive copyright license.
  4. The source material used for transcription might not be known, which can lead to legal issues and problems with reliability.

We don't want to duplicate effort, but we do want the OpenScore collection to be complete. Therefore, when we find an existing transcription that satisfies these criteria then we will try to incorporate it into OpenScore rather than starting from scratch. I will contact the transcriber of "Maple Leaf Rag" and see if he is willing to license it under CC0 and add it to the OpenScore collection. It will not count as one of the 100 pieces backers paid to liberate.

In reply to by shoogle

This discussion points out one of the 'down sides' of having donors pay for a particular piece. The question will undoubtedly arise again, so to avoid misunderstanding or frustration, I think what is needed is a clear statement up front of what will be done when a donor names a piece for transcription and it is later found that a transcription already exists. There will probably also be situations where a score is adopted and assigned, but someone who is not participating in OpenScore finishes transcribing that piece first, independently. If the transcription is suitable, what should be done with it, with the unfinished work as well as the funds given to see it completed? These things are unpredictable. As noted: quality, consistency and legal issues are of prime importance in a project like this so there will be times when duplication is unavoidable for lots of reasons. I would suggest that a clear policy should be decided and stated up front so that donors and transcribers know ahead of time what will become of their donation or efforts if situations like these arise.

I can see the interest in Classical Music, but there is a huge repertoire of Traditional Music and song from the British Isles, Scandinavia and Europe generally, is the Open Score project planning to include that repertoire too?

In reply to by RobinDG

Yes indeed! All music is eligible for OpenScore as long as it:

  1. Is in the public domain worldwide.
  2. Uses a form of notation that MuseScore can reproduce. (e.g. Common Western Music Notation and guitar tablature are supported, but Gregorian Chant is not currently supported.)