A Good Question About Metadata and Scans

Tech4Singers asked this via Twitter:

So how am I embedding metadata into the workflow? Before I answer, I should define metadata, as it might be a new term for some readers.

Metadata describes other data. It provides information about a certain item's content. For example, an image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the color depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, and other data. A text document's metadata may contain information about how long the document is, who the author is, when the document was written, and a short summary of the document. (http://www.techterms.com/definition/metadata)

In terms of music, important metadata might be items such as: title, composer, voicing/instrumentation, arranger, length, style, genre, key(s), etc. Metadata can also include key words. For my scanning purposes, I only need title, composer and/or arranger, and voicing.

Let's say that I'm scanning a song entitled: I Love Puppies. Because I don't have a piece out of copyright available to use as an example, I threw a song together in 20 seconds in Finale to use as an example (it is terrible, although the first chords are similar to Adele's “Someone Like You”). Let's say I scan this song. It might look something like this:

I would save this scan as:

I Love Puppies Russell SATB.pdf

Then, using my Mac, finding this file by title, composer, or voicing will be easy (command + space bar opens Spotlight, the most powerful feature [in my opinion] on the Mac.

If I Love Puppies had been written by a major composer (it wasn't), and arranged by me, I would save it as:

I Love Puppies Mozart Russell SATB.pdf

I have no need to track publisher or publisher number. I don't specfically remove any of the copyright information from the songs, but I do eliminate all cover pages (they are a bother to flip through on a PDF music reader) and blank pages, and I move all biographical infomation, historical information, or pronouncation information to the end of the song. I do all of this editing with Mac Preview, another wonderfully powerful feature included on the Mac OS. Before I bought the Canon P-150, all of my scanning was done on a Cannon flatbed through Mac Preview (you can scan in Mac Preview, too)

As I delete the cover, blank pages, and move pages, I check to make sure that every page was scanned in the process. The publisher and publisher number do not matter to be because publishers are bought out, go out of business, and change their names–the same holds true with publisher numbers. Some publishers, such as those with Walton, have both Walton numbers and Hal Leonard numbers! I could (and do) have multiple songs with the same name…even the same basic song (e.g. Mozart's Ave Verum). By saving the PDF with both the composer and arranger, it is easy to find the right version when I need it.

I don't want to save every song with complete set of metadata (each PDF music reader has their own criteria), because my choirs will never perform every one of these songs (although I had the thought of how wonderful it would be to have my choirs read one piece a week just for fun–entering it into Finale for harmonic support and singing through–something you could never do because of the paper issue with printer paper–but digital music changes everything). I go into greater metadata detail on songs that I import and use in concert. I tend to leave all of these on my iPad, making it even easier to sort music in the future.

Paul Shimmons pointed out (in nice review of forScore 4.0) that you can now change metadata by pressing the center of the title bar in forScore. This is a nice feature to use if you find yourself with a moment to do some of this tedious data entry (the metadata isn't critical if you are using playlists, so if you find yourself with some spare time, you can enter data as you go). Here's what that new metadata entry form looks like on forScore:




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