Musica: A Great Benefit for ACDA Members

ACDA Executive Director Tim Sharp

If you are searching for choral repertoire, and the fact is, we are indeed searching for choral repertoire all the time, your membership in the American Choral Directors Association offers you the entire Musica choral database to track down repertoire throughout the world.

Why would you use Musica rather than a Google search? Great question! Here are some answers I think you will find compelling:musica-international1

  1. The Musica database references the score for the choral piece you want to find and does not drown in all other areas that you will encounter in a typical Google search;
  2. Music is a structured database, which means there exists a specific field for each type of information describing a score—composer, title, voicing, number of voices, key center, genre, style, form, instrumentation, liturgical use, and much more (for example, try searching in Google for Swiss choral scores for mixed voices in French, for a harvest festival, lasting about five minutes….Good luck with that! But in Musica, your search can be pinpointed with these criteria.)
  3. With Musica, fields of a search are grouped, making the search much more friendly and faster;
  4. In Musica, several search forms are available for the user who can choose the one that is best suited to the research desired, or to the one that is most comfortable to the user;
  5. Musica automatically translates the important data into four languages, allowing access to all data, even those introduced in Musica in a language other than that used by the visitor;
  6. A Musica record includes all the information about the score into a single entity; you will find the bibliographic description, but also the multimedia links (video, audio clip, translations, pronunciation of the text, image of the page, and more);
  7. The information is monitored constantly and checked and improved (in other words, it is trusted) by the Musica coordination team, which is a team of choral conductors and music librarians (in other words, this is a trusted site, avoiding the negative aspects of Wikipedia and Google searches);
  8. The videos selected for the choral works sought are only the good performances, unlike Google and YouTube that mix the best with the worst;
  9. In the composer’s file, nearly 11,000 composers have one or more links to detailed biographies, again checked and monitored by the Musica team;
  10. Musica offers “favorite pieces of the month” for additional exploration and interest;
  11. Musica offers an “auditorium” where you can browse through the vast compilation of all audio and video links;
  12. Musica allows you to interact with the data by using a Musica Wiki or Facebook page;
  13. Musica offers a list of important anniversaries for composers.
  14. Musica can be used to manage your choral holdings without need of doing your own database, by benefitting from private fields to input for instance your location.

Musica has developed into THE choral music research and teaching tool for the benefit of conductors, musicologists, music conservatories and schools, music federations, and choral music industry members, worldwide. For the experienced choral musician, it is the source for discovering literature from around the world. For the student of choral music, Musica is a keen way to discover and learn about the world of choral repertoire.

Music comprises four databases that can be consulted separately: choral scores-170,000 records; choral composers-30,000 records; authors of texts-13,000 records; choral publishers-2,200 records. These databases are interlinked so that it is possible to navigate directly between them.

The database of scores comprises a series of records yielding as many as 100 different types of information about the score, including composer, arranger, publisher, title, genre, form, difficulty, type of choir, language, musical period, instrumentation, etc. About 20 fields are translated automatically through several multilingual thesaurus developed by the Musica International team. As a result, information is automatically and immediately available in the different languages.

Musica currently contains more than 200,000 multimedia links. The multimedia fields are designed to provide a fuller understanding of the piece: image of one page of the score, the text, its translation in several languages, a sound clip of a good interpretation and/or a video, a sound file of the correct pronunciation by a
native speaker of the language, a midi file, and links to pages external of the project. By the end of 2015, the Musica database contained more than 170,000 records, making it the leading virtual library of choral music in which all possible information about a score is available.

Since 2011, Musica has concentrated on the development of features allowing full interactivity with the actors of choral music. The choral world is able to contribute actively to its development through the linked online Musica Wiki, allowing every composer, publisher, conductor, musicologist, or choral music lover to leave comments, additional information and reports of experiences with the music, and to directly input their favorite pieces.

Musica is now a benefit of membership in ACDA. At the Eastern Division ACDA Conference in Boston in February, 2016, I will be joined by the Musica Board to present an Interest Session on the use of the Musica database with all of the features mentioned in this blog. I hope many of you will come and learn from the Musica team as they unfold the richness of this choral repertoire search engine and learning resource.

Tim Sharp is Executive Director of the American Choral Directors Association, the world’s largest association of choral conductors, students, scholars, composers, and choral industry representatives. Tim has pursued an aggressive agenda of strategic planning and progressive initiatives to keep the American Choral Directors Association energized and relevant in the 21st century. He represents choral activity in the United States to the International Federation for Choral Music, and appears regularly as guest conductor and clinician throughout the world. Tim is in his eighth season as Artistic Director of the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, where critics characterized his performances as having “stunning power” and “great passion and precision”. In a recent review of the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus’ performance of Mozart’s Requiem, arts critic James Watts stated, “The Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, prepared by its artistic director Tim Sharp, was in excellent form, summoning up rafter-shaking power…and showing great sensitivity ….”