Sampling the past: new models for accessing music heritage

Kenneth B. McAlpine

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper explores public engagement with music collections using tactile interfacing. Historically, music collections have shied away from allowing the public to experience directly the sound and playing characteristics of instruments in their care. Since the key curatorial concern is focused on preserving the fragile mechanics of the instruments, and since the primary interest by the visiting public is in the sound, any technology which effectively separates and recreates the sound of the instrument from its mechanics would enable the original instruments to be accurately modelled and rehoused in cheap, robust digital electronics, making it a realistic possibility for anyone who wishes to play the originals to do so, albeit in a digital form. This paper discusses the development of one such collaborative project, which began in 2003. It begins by highlighting the challenges involved in instrument presentation, before detailing the technical processes that support one such digital manifestation of a historic instrument. The paper concludes by discussing limitations of the technique and future work which will address these, as well as rolling out the implementation for a complete music collection.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2008
EventDigital Collections, Acoustic Environments - University of York, York, United Kingdom
Duration: 17 Mar 200818 Mar 2008


OtherDigital Collections, Acoustic Environments
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Digital heritage
  • Musical instruments
  • Preservation
  • Access


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