A digital archive of the history of musical instruments is nearing completion and to mark the event, the University of Edinburgh has put on display some rare and unusual instruments for the public to view.
The Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments, made up of two museums – the St Cecilia’s Hall and Reid Concert Hall Museum of Musical Instruments – last week featured an unusual two-headed tuba and other oddities such as a double bell euphonium.
Reid Concert Hall features nearly 1,000 stringed, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments from around the world and through the objects it aims to discover the history of the orchestra, as well as theatre, dance and popular music.
Meanwhile, St Cecilia’s Hall features plucked stringed instruments including harps and lutes and early keyboard instruments.
The special exhibition gives a taste of the vast history of instrument making as Edinburgh is the hub of a major project to put all of the research online for others to learn from.
The Musical Instrument Museums Online (MIMO) project brings together the collections of 11 of Europe’s most important musical instrument museums in six countries and is funded through the EU’s eContentPlus programme.
Each museum has been busy photographing the instruments in their collection, including those kept in storage that have never before seen by the public. They have also edited any audio and video material, uploading it onto the MIMO database.
When the project is completed in August, it will be made available to the public on the Europeana website, a central database from Europe’s cultural and scientific heritage.
Musicians and historians will be able to access 45,000 images of instruments, which the project organisers claim will make available 40 per cent of Europe’s and the world’s heritage of musical instruments in public possession. It will also total 16 per cent of the world’s public instrument ownership, bringing music education to a wider audience.
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