Is media neutrality a utopia

Digital music edition

The merging of the terms “digital” and “music edition” suggests the idea of ​​a specific form of music edition that makes use of new technologies and possibilities associated with digital change to make musical tradition accessible and, in the scientific context, continues to focus on historical and critical methods. Significant characteristics of digital music editions understood in this way are the greater transparency of editorial decisions, for example through the inclusion of digitized versions of the musical text and the sources used, more flexible and less limited forms of presentation that also allow the (simultaneous) presentation of several variant edited texts, and easier linkability of components by linking or the possibility of searching for information and thus also sorting it according to predefined categories. The aim in this conception remains the production of edited texts that can be related to one another and that are embedded in a network of electronically more conveniently available information. Ultimately, a digital music edition understood in this way would be nothing more than a modified variant of the current model of historical-critical editions. Many of the digital editions that have been produced in recent years and are currently still being developed comply with these principles.

In 2011 Johannes Kepper worked on Music edition in the name of new media (Kepper 2011, p. 167ff.) Looking back on the development up to this point in time, different degrees of digital editions were distinguished:
1. electronic editionsthat “merely adapt existing content to the new medium” (a.a.0., p. 167), that is - with another term - “digitized editions”, such as the best-known example with NMA Online. Only technical possibilities of the medium (e.g. search function, linking) are used in order to create more flexible access to the content. Some of the hybrid editions that combine analog and digital publications (e.g. the Edirom editions of the OPERA project, the Reger work edition and the Weber complete edition) are still clearly characterized by concepts of the “book” medium stick to the traditional edited text.
2. digital editions, d. H. Editions expressly intended for digital media from the start, which are also characterized as “born digital”, often only differed slightly in the initial phase from the forms mentioned above, but the spectrum here extends from the (consistent) use of musical texts and sources -Illustrations via partial coding of texts up to versions completely coded in text and musical notation, which can be easily implemented due to the less complex character set, especially in the area of ​​older musical tradition (see e.g. the projects CMME, DiMusEd, TüBingen)

In the context of the project Beethoven's workshop In the absence of a better terminology, the combination “digital music edition” is not used as an adjective, but as a term technicus. This is intended to indicate that a “conceptual change” (Sahle 2013, vol. 8/2, p. 154) is taking place in which the objects of the editor have become “digital objects”, their structure and relationship to one another in a formalized way Way can be described and the details of which can thus be manipulated in a way that is media-specific. This transformation from analog to “digital objects” is usually associated with a transformation that represents the objects in a new way: Texts or images are converted into a machine-readable language that, depending on the depth and granularity of the object’s development, creates one more or more less fine-grained access to details is allowed. In the editing context, XML-based markup languages ​​such as TEI or description languages ​​such as MEI are used, which make it clear that each description can only capture selected aspects of reality and that any interpretation based on this selective description, which is based on the so-called "data" is presented, touches down. With regard to the transformation and selection achievements on which all editorial descriptions are based, Patrick Sahle said that a digital edition understood in this way is, so to speak, the “normal form” of a scientific edition, because not the “publication” but “the data behind it” (the in their "media neutrality" are much richer than the distilled publication in a certain medium) should be the main subject of the editor's work (Sahle 2013, 8/2, p. 148 or 154). These "data" form the starting point for further research or new publication projects.

The formalized descriptive languages ​​used in the field of digital media make it clear, on the one hand, that any language can only depict reality to a limited extent, and they thus force continuous reflection on its own limits. At the same time, through their structure, they open up operative access, i.e. the possibility of “processing” the data and thus the content. By being in the project Beethoven's workshop z. For example, if text movements - at least as changes from a starting to a target stage - are described in a formalized manner in MEI, such transitions can also be visualized in a new way. Stages of text development, variant creation processes or the connection between intervention actions - all these phenomena can be recorded in MEI and reproduced in their chronological order, but meta-textual elements or secondary information can also be included in the presentation. In principle, the data structures are so open that different types of information can also be added, thereby increasing the possibility of arriving at different results from the same "data pool" with different knowledge interests on different paths. The idea that the user moves independently in a "multi-dimensional space" filled with data of various kinds or in a "digital archive" (Wiering 2012, p. 30f.) In order to clarify his individual questions may certainly be an embellished utopia, but is nevertheless based on this approach as an idea. A "digital music edition" understood in this way is about enabling these ways of working, no longer about the "one" finished product of a publication that has only been relocated to the digital medium and with previously unimagined forms of visualization.

In such an edition, all of the editor's findings flow into the so-called "data"; H. Findings must be explicitly described in this data or their structure must be designed in such a way that findings can also result from targeted queries or recombining. It must be clear that editorial knowledge and language influence each other: the language found guides the knowledge, but the knowledge must also insist on modifications of the language where it proves to be inadequate. In this sense, the hermeneutic process, which is so characteristic of the humanities, is ultimately shifted to the level of data modeling and creation. In this respect, the addition "digital" in the compound "digital music edition" is anything but a mere modifying adjective - it touches the foundations of knowledge and describes the transition to a new epistemology and methodology of editorial work (cf. Digital Humanities 2020, thesis 1 ).

Version 1.0.0 (draft version)