Posted by aaron at 07:01AM, Wednesday, December 08th, 2004
The internet fulfilling its potential: Amazon now sells sheet-music Acrobat downloads
I was looking for recordings of the Paganini Caprices, and I found a link to some downloads on Amazon. I was excited.
I decided to download the thing on the spot. It was $1.99, and the product page had more or less nothing in it about the product, the publisher, the editor, or anything. I figured it was a small enough risk.
The download is a protected Acrobat file. I tried to print it (I'm not going to read the damn thing off the screen, obviously), but nothing happened. I'm not sure if that's down to DRM, or my screwy network setup.
The content itself is obviously computer-generated, as opposed to engraved. Actually, it doesn't even look quite like nicely done Finale output, but something a little less engraved-looking, with less hand-tweaked spacing. Basically, it looks quite amateurish. I haven't tried the fingerings or anything yet, so I can't comment on them, but as far as the rest of the editing goes, there are very few articulation or bowing marks other than slurs, and there's actually far less fingering than I'd like, and that's generally in the parts where the fingering is already obvious (I'm going to finger octaves with a 1 and a 4? Really? I had no idea.) Overall, the editing looks fairly useless. The collisions between articulations and fingerings, etc. are pretty annoying, too. If I saw this as sheet music for two bucks, I'd think it was vastly overpriced, and reach for a Galamian edition or something.
The publisher is Kessinger Publishing, at www.kessinger.net. The advertisement on the last page of the PDF claims they have "thousands of scarce and hard-to-find books." While I'm the first to say that sheet music is a perfect marketing opportunity for the web, since it can be such a pain to come by otherwise, I'm not going to be that excited until I can get professionally marked up content, or composer editions. Anyone can sit down at a computer and transcribe public domain music, and, really, I have enough experience notating my own stuff to be able to do a fair bit better job in Finale than these guys. Good idea, lousy product.
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