But where do you start when you want to hack sound?
This was the problem faced by Andrei Maberley, Sound Catalyst at The Edge, when he came across a collection of old copyright free scores housed at The State Library of Queensland. These scores had been captured as images, and while they held the promise of sounds to come, were as yet, unusable for musicians and remixers.
So Andrei went to work and it was, by no means, a quick or easy task.
The original files were medium to low resolution images and Andrei’s ultimate goal was to convert these to MIDI files, sound files that could be used in sound editing software. Many programs were put to the test, Sebelius, Sharpeye and an open source musical optical character recognition program, to no result before Andrei realised that the resolution of the images was causing the problem.
With the help of State Library staff, Andrei got hold of some higher resolution TIFF files. After enlisting The Edge’s designer, Brett, he proceeded to convert the high resolution TIFF files into black and white image files. Any embedded images and lyrics then had to be removed in preparation for the files to be transferred to MIDI.
In the end Andrei created 420 files, ready to re-scan, turn into MIDI files, and re-name from a random number (402054.jpg) into a score title (Mafeking Walz.MIDI).
Thanks to Andrei’s persistence, passion and technical expertise we now have a select number of digitised scores in MIDI. Sharpeye came through in the end, but Andrei still had to hand correct notes that were lost in transition. These files have made the ‘hip hop hack’ workshops possible and Andrei also developed his own ‘Hack to the Future’ music remixing workshops using Ableton Live.
We would like to officially thank Andrei for his all his masterful work and the outstanding contribution that he has made to The State Library of Queensland and the Libraryhack project.