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HARMONICA workshop

Consensus reached on need for collaboration on music information services

Considerable support for a coordinated approach to music information services was expressed by some 40 experts on music and technology who participated in a preparatory workshop in Luxembourg on 15 and 16 January 1996 . The main objective of the meeting was to define, in the light of considerable and varied user interests, a basis for building a consolidated framework for music services to be made available through libraries and related organisations.

The consensus expressed by the workshop encouraged the Commission's Telematics for Libraries unit to plan a relatively tight schedule for initiating contractual work under HARMONICA (Harmonised Access and Retrieval for Music-Oriented Networked Information - Concerted Action), the title agreed for the concerted action. HARMONICA resulted from the wide if diversified interest in music services contained in a number of proposals submitted to the Libraries and Information Engineering sectors of the Telematics Applications programme in 1995.

Nature of a concerted action

The concerted action mechanism is designed to create a human network for stimulating actions in pursuit of common goals. It does not cover R&D; work as such but serves as a framework to facilitate and prepare such work. Financial support therefore covers items such as travel and meeting costs, secretariat and administration and peripheral costs including consultancy days, exhibitions and surveys.

The deliverables are appropriate reports such as minutes of meetings and workshops, activity reports, brainstorming pieces, specifications, studies, surveys and feasibilities and the results of the work carried out in the form of a final report.

In the specific case of HARMONICA, there could be two phases: a preparatory phase of up to nine months followed by a main phase of up to two years.

Conclusions and follow-up

There was wide support for a common approach. In particular, the following considerations emerged:
  • The diversity and complexity which existed at all levels (standards, codes, interest groups, IPR management) clearly called for coordination in the interests of interoperability.
  • Coodination between European developments and developments at national or regional levels should also be addressed in this context.
  • Bridges needed to be built between the various technical approaches, in particular in order to satisfy real user requirements for a seamless approach to access.
  • In the sphere of music, a wide range of players were involved including information centres, libraries, sound archives, broadcasting stations, recording companies, IPR interests and publishers but no particular sequence or order of priority could be identified.
  • Of all the materials held by libraries and archives, music was certainly the most universal and, as such, deserved special consideration in the evolving world of electronic access and multimedia. Greater visibility of music services backed initially by clearer idenfication of existing resources across Europe should there be ensured.
These points could already be considered as a set of indirect recommendations for work to be undertaken by the concerted action, addressing as they did all the issues listed in the background document. Together, they would form a basis for defining priorities.

In order to progress towards the preparation of a formal contractual approach to HARMONICA, eleven of the participants representing a variety of interests volunteered to help with detailed future planning. Ten of these agreed to attend a planning meeting on 5 February 1996 in Luxembourg at which organisational and technical planning issues would be discussed.

Further information

Additions to this music list and any other pertinent information and contact addresses may be sent, preferably by e-mail to
European Commission

DG Information Society
Cultural Heritage Applications Unit Contact:Digicult
e-mail: (email removed)

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