Semantic Linking and the Workflows of Musicology

A common theme between the various research strands of Transforming Musicology has

been the contribution of each towards a semantic infrastructure, using the techniques of

Linked Data and the Semantic Web, aimed at providing enhancements for sustainability

of research data, methods and results. In particular, it was felt from the outset that the

principle of repeatability, well-established in the sciences, is not incompatible with the

aims and aspirations of humanistic scholarship. So, where possible, we attempt to

publish our datasets and our workflows in a way that should, in principle, allow others

to repeat our investigations, and/or re-use them on different or expanded datasets as

appropriate. Based on earlier work on scientific workflows, we have studied a number

of processes of musicological investigation and will present some of our findings in this

paper. Two musicological examples around such workflows arose from the Wagner

work in Transforming Musicology: the Musical Score Annotation Kit (MuSAK), a multi-
device digital annotation environment for assisting musicologists in recording the

ephemeral phenomena of a specific staging during its live performance, developed for

the 2014 Being Human festival; and the Leitmotif Ontology, which enables the semantic

annotation of sources of literature on the leitmotif and the structured representation of

the different interpretations they contain. MuSAK comprises a touchscreen tablet for

score annotation, a digital pen, a server that receives and stores annotations, and audio-
visual media recordings; software reconciles and relates the digital constituents into a

coherent semantic navigable hyperstructure. The paper will describe the motivation

behind the ontology, and discuss how it can integrate the varying methodologies and

ways of thinking evidenced the documentary record of music history. Both examples, we

believe, can offer a useful model for future work in Digital Humanities research.