Monday, 25 August 2008

More IAML08 and a French portal to contemporary resources

It's Bank Holiday Monday with no sun (but fortunately no rain as well) here in London and I wanted to blog a bit more about IAML08. London's overcast skies stand in stark contrast to the weather in Naples where the sun was shining every day. Having lived in London only 4 years I am continually impressed by the efficient public transportation from the Underground to network rail and the extensive bus lines whether you are going to one of the airports or just fumbling around the capital. Arriving in Naples on an Easyjet flight, plans to take a bus from the airport to the city were immediately thwarted by a sciopero or strike/industrial action (which was one of several to encumber la mia esperienza di Napoli.)

Local public transportation scioperi aside, my penchant for trying new forms of transport were rewarded by taking the funicolare (below) which climb the sides of Naples much like the cable-cars in San Francisco but instead go through tunnels up the hills of the city and are unhindered by traffic.

I particularly like this shot of the funicolare arriving into Morghen from Montesanto. (I think the driver reading the newspaper whilst in operation would be a nice job for the summer!)

Now onto one of the conference presentations: a new (French) portal to contemporary resources. Michael Fingerhut of IRCAM presented ( which was a joint venture between IRCAM, the Cdmc - (Centre de documentation de la musique contemporaine), Cité de la musique, the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris, and the Médiathèque Musicale Mahler. With the goal of creating a single portal for contemporary music, the website serves as a virtual catalogue (with facets for text, score, audio, video, biography, event, training and programme notes) as well as pulling together performance, lecture and exhibition information at the various institutions. The main interface is now available in bilingual versions of French and English.

Running a search in the interface one can initially only search by one facet (in the recherche express). Once you have a search result you can further refine by the facets listed above. Materials which are accessible from your location are denoted with a green circle. (Most files, particularly the audio and video files, are only fully accessible on-site in one of the institutions due to licensing restrictions.)

It is hoped that ongoing negotiations with rights holders societies will allow more materials to be available remotely. For now, short excerpts of audio recordings are available usually up to about 3 minutes. Once you click on the 'listen to an excerpt' (Ecoutez un extrait) - a browser like this will display:

Example of the site's embedded media player

I can get excerpts to play in IE, but have had problems with Mozilla which may be just a script issue. In any case, in spite of the time restrictions, it is nice to hear excerpts of recent premieres and other works that may not even get recorded and read the notes and thoughts of living composers' latest compositions. I hope that the powers that be at IRCAM and the various performing societies will allow a license for academic institutions outside France so that those in the EU and throughout the world can fully benefit from this digital resource.

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