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Stanford University Piano Roll Archive SUPRA

Background

All of the digital files of the piano rolls may be accessed from this exhibit and also from the Stanford Libraries catalog, Searchworks. The records in SearchWorks also contain information about the original rolls.

Interest in the player piano at Stanford grew out of a series of symposia, Reactions to the Record, which explored the connection between sound recordings and the study of historical performance practice. A number of participants in the symposia made important discoveries with piano rolls, but many rolls are in private collections or are difficult to access in museums and libraries. Clearly, a program to collect and study piano rolls and make them more easily accessible, was needed to make piano rolls, a largely untapped primary resource for the study of performance practice available.

The Denis Condon Collection of Reproducing Pianos and Rolls was Stanford's first significant roll acquisition consisting of 7,450 items. Work on digitizing piano rolls begins with cataloging the collection because metadata is essential to identifying and tracking the rolls and digital files through the entire workflow. The next step was the construction of a roll scanner that would produce digital files to archival standards for long-term preservation of the information on the rolls.

As with cataloging, this required developing rigorous standards for archival digital files because such standards did not yet exist. It was decided to create master digital files as full-color scans at 300 dpi and to store them as uncompressed files. From this master file a number of derivative files are created including JPEG at two resolutions for viewing, a monochrome file in the form of the green channel from the master TIFF for those who wish to create their own MIDI files, a series of MIDI files used to produce a final MIDI file complete with expression encoding, and an audio M4A file for general listening.

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