Towards a digital library of popular music


Digital libraries of music have the potential to capture popular imagination in ways that more scholarly libraries cannot. We are working towards a comprehensive digital library of musical material, including popular music. We have developed new ways of collecting musical material, accessing it through searching and browsing, and presenting the results to the user. We work with different representations of music: facsimile images of scores, the internal representation of a music editing program, page images typeset by a music editor, MIDI files, audio files representing sung user input, and textual metadata such as title, composer and arranger, and lyrics. This paper describes a comprehensive suite of tools that we have built for this project. These tools gather musical material, convert between many of these representations, allow searching based on combined musical and textual criteria, and help present the results of searching and browsing. Although we do not yet have a single fully-blown digital music library, we have built several exploratory prototype collections of music, some of them very large (100,000 tunes), and critical components of the system have been evaluated.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Publication Date


Journal Title

Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Digital Libraries