Digitization Sent Engraving to the Grave

Watching these gentlemen carve lines into metal to create musical staves seems almost paleolithic. The labor that went into creating just one sheet of printed music is really astounding. A big shout out to British Pathe studios for releasing their way-cool collection of short films to YouTube.

Fast forward from 1936 to 2014 and the mode of creation has completely changed with the advent of computer-generated compositional tools like Finale and Sibelius, the latter being no longer supported, alas. No longer must the composer worry about wrong notes accidentally being carved in by a slip of the hand; the onus is now on the creator.

Then the actual creation of the music is a revolution. Imagine someone in 1936 describing IMSLP, “Well, you sit down at this box that shows movies from around the world sent through the air. You can choose your composition from this box, push a button, and magically it appears from a printing machine.” You’d probably be sent to the sanitarium.

Check out this cool list of links to manuscripts and printed music.


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