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A long awaited bridge: Constructing Indian musical notation archives for world audience

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Audio-visual archiving, particularly when culture specific, is not just amassing data and presenting it in an accessible format incorporating search and data mining capabilities within it. Special issues need to be handled for effective implementation and usability of niche archives. Here we examine the case of archiving Indian musical notation and songs.
The first issue is accessibility. Historically the music of Indian subcontinent follows a grammar different from that of Western Music. Archiving and representing Indian music in its native forms limits it to audience trained in these forms. To reach and be useful for a greater audience the archival framework would need an intrinsic translational system that would present its contents in various musical formats as needed. This presupposes the existence and implementation of an automatic instantaneous musical notation translation system between Indian and Western formats. It also necessitates a new interchangeable data format to store musical information translatable between different forms.
The second issue is of usability — can such archives grow beyond a searchable repository of data? A really useful archive of musical notation would have capabilities to adapt its output as per requirement by changing individual musical parameters such as scale, tempo, etc. It should also act as an effective learning system for audience with basic musical training. It would have to be interactive, dynamic, expandable and adaptable.
This paper examines the technical and aesthetic issues involved in creating such interactive music archives with special reference to Swarasruti, an ongoing project to create such an archive and a corpus of Indian Music Notation for Western audience. It proposes a musical interchangeable archiving format and a software infrastructure for usable archival output, with real life prototype demonstration.