Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the official Frequently Asked Questions webpage of the What’s the Score at the Bodleian? project, a page which is being developed to help contributors to understand better how to produce the descriptions. For practical reasons, it is being hosted directly by the Bodleian but it should be consulted in conjunction with the Guidelines page on the Zooniverse site. We shall be adding to this page as the need arises so, if you have further questions about creating the descriptions, please e-mail wts@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Q: Which information is it most important to transcribe?

A: Concentrate mainly on the information on the front cover or title page:

  • Main title [Title tab]
  • Composer [Creator tab]
  • Any other names (except names associated with illustration), e.g. arranger/transcriber, performer. If a dedicatee is mentioned, give the name as "Other" and transcribe the dedication under the Miscellaneous tab (dedications may also be found on the first page of music) [Creator tab]
  • Publication details (place, publisher, address, date (if present)) [Publication tab]
  • Cover design - choose the description that best fits the nature of the cover [Front pages tab]

From the pages within the score, there might not be much (if anything) to record. If that is the case, just click 'Finished with page' to move on. Otherwise, look out for:

  • Caption title (if this is substantially different from the main title) [Title tab]
  • Plate number [Publication tab]

If you able to do so, please record:

  • The overall key of the piece [Key tab]
  • The overall tempo [Tempo tab]
  • The genre, e.g. galop, waltz, schottische [Genre tab]
  • The nature of the material on the back pages of the score. Select a term which best describes the content of the pages at the end of the score, e.g. advertisement, publisher's catalogue [Back pages tab]

Q: If I have to stop describing before I've finished, I can't return to it to finish it off.

A: It's not the end of the world if a score is only partially described because the system presents the same score to several different contributors. However, if you can't finish a score at one sitting, you can quickly flip through all the pages, clicking 'Finished with page' on each one, even if you don't record any information. This will then place the pages in your 'My descriptions' area and you can return to them at your leisure to finish off your description. Some people prefer to do this anyway as it enables you to move from page to page at will, even if it's not the smoothest of operations! It would have been preferable if the system could have presented the scores as complete units but, since we are using software adapted by Zooniverse from one of their other projects, this would have required a radical redesign which it was not feasible to do for this experimental project.

Q: Do I have to repeat information found on different pages?

A: Although the end result of this process is intended to be the description of a complete score, the software presents the items a page at a time. While some of the information will be found on the inner pages of the score, the majority of the required information can be transcribed from the cover or title page. When substantially the same information is repeated on the inner pages (e.g. the caption title on the first page of music), there is no need to transcribe it again unless it is significantly different from what appears on the cover. Just click 'Finished with page' and move on to the next one.

Q: When I try to select another tab, things start to go wrong.

A: Although the same area of a page might give information that needs to be recorded on more than one tab, the system cannot accommodate the association of more than one tab with each selected area of a page. The boxes you draw around selected areas of the page don't have to be drawn exactly to encompass all the information so, if you have more than one type of information to record from essentially the same area of the page, draw smaller boxes for each which might only encompass part of the relevant area. Overlapping boxes are also possible.

Q: It's sometimes not clear where one score ends and another begins.

A: It would have been preferable if the system could have presented the scores as complete units but, since we are using software adapted by Zooniverse from one of their other projects, this would have required a radical redesign which it was not feasible to do for this experimental project. However, do not worry if you unwittingly start to transcribe the next score. Behind the scenes, the software knows which pages belong to which score and it's not the end of the world if a score is described only in part.

Q: Why can't I choose or search for a specific score on the Zooniverse site (http://www.whats-the-score.org)?

A: The purpose of the Zooniverse platform is purely to collect the data contributed by the public and is not the long-term home of the images or their associated metadata. Contributors are presented with scores selected at random by the system, in order to ensure that the less immediately attractive scores are tackled as well as the pretty ones! The images are being stored in a separate database (http://scores.bodleian.ox.ac.uk) to which the crowd-sourced information is also gradually being added. Here you can search for or browse through all the digitized scores.

Q: What happens to the information I provide?

A: The descriptions provided by members of the public are loaded into a database where they are reviewed and stored alongside the digitized images of the sheet music (http://scores.bodleian.ox.ac.uk). This will enrich the very basic metadata that already exists so that, over time, the information we have about the scores and therefore the means by which we can search for them will be enhanced, making it a much more useful resource.

Q: What do I do if there's information I want to transcribe but it doesn't fit any of the categories on the tabs?

A: Please make use of the Miscellaneous tab to record anything else you think might be of interest. For instance, if you find out something about the piece which isn't explicitly stated on the score, please share it, particularly information which might help to date the piece or the publication. If you think that the information given elsewhere isn't clear, please provide a concise explanation on the Miscellaneous tab. If you find that there's a particularly interesting story behind a piece of music, about its composer, publisher, dedicatee, etc., please write it up for us to include in the project blog.

Q: What is the purpose of the 'Front Pages' tab?

A: This is merely intended to provide a flag to record the general nature of the covers so that we can search for scores with particular styles of design, e.g. pictorial covers. 

Q: What is a caption title?

A: A caption title is a title which is given on the first page of music which may or may not be identical with the title on the cover/title page.

Q: What is a plate number?

A: A plate number is a number (or sequence of letters and numbers) printed at the foot of each page of music. This enabled the printer or publisher to keep track of which engraved plates belonged to which publication and avoid pages from one piece of music inadvertently being inserted into another during the production process.

Q: How can I get news about the project and keep in touch with what's going on?

A: What's the score at the Bodleian? has a presence on Twitter @whatscore and there is a project blog. We are also looking into other Web 2.0 possibilities. If you have questions or observations to make, please send them to wts@bodleian.ox.ac.uk. If you come across a piece of sheet music which has a particularly interesting story behind it, do tell us about it and we can mount it as a blog post.


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