The gateway to contemporary music resources in France


Technical description


The gateway harvests metadata related to contemporary music from each of the partners' databases (which may hold other contents, which is not harvested). It does so by using the OAI-PMH protocol.

The medatada are formated in MODS and describe the partners' resources according to a common model specifically designed for this gateway and to which their exported metadata has to adhere (the gateway can also harvest metadata in Dublin Core provided it maps to the model). They contain the principal fields allowing for general and specific searches into the harvested contents (person, title, media, form, genre, instrumentation, date…).

For preservation purposes, all digital instances of the resources are described using METS. Local and remote access to the online instances is controlled directly by the holding organizations: the gateway does not contain a copy of the digital document. Rather, it provides to the user the address allowing for a direct access (i.e., without having to search for it on the remote site) according to the relative location of the user and the resource (in the same intranet, in the partners' extranet, on the internet).

The gateway is based on a heavily modified version of the PKP Open Archives Harvester which has been integrated into the Drupal CMS, thereby allowing for the addition of gateway-specific contents (accompanying texts and documentation, etc.).

In addition to the core development, each partner had to add an OAI access point (known as a repository) to each of the databases it wants the gateway to harvest. In many cases, this development used the free PHPOAI2 library.



Founding partners (in 2007)


Centre de documentation de la contemporary music :

Katherine Vayne, Isabelle Gauchet Doris, Loïc Riffault.

Cité de la musique :

Marie-Hélène Serra, Rodolphe Bailly, David Denocq, François Guillot, Xavier Cognard.

Conservatoire national de musique et de danse de Paris :

Dominique Hausfater, Bérengère de l'Épine, Catherine de Boishéraud.

Ensemble intercontemporain :

Nicolas Dagan, Armelle Cochevelou.

Ircam - Centre Pompidou :

Michel Fingerhut, Jean-Pierre Vitulli, Benoît Montigné, Vincent Gourson.

Médiathèque musicale Mahler :

Alain Galliari, Christiane David.


Heritage collections concerning contemporary music creation are in constant evolution. They do not benefit from as wide a distribution as more classical or popular heritage, and need to be put in context in order to facilitate its appropriation by the public at large as well as for its study and reuse by music professionals. Moreover, their traces (sound recordings, music scores, music press…) are generally still under copyright, as a result of which physical and digital access to them has to be controlled. Last, the fragility of these traces (and in particular, ephemera and sound recordings) endangers their preservation.

Several French organizations provide, each withing its domain of competence, access to their holdings which reflect rich aspects of this creation (scores, sound recordings), of its delivery (program notes) and its reception (music press), as well as to any other information about it (books, periodicals, iconography, databases, directories…) and list or organize events (concerts, conferences…). As the event traces are in high demand, their physical support needs to be preserved without restricting the access to the document itself. As to the technical information needed to reprogram works and thus ensure their presence in the répertoire, they are not always easily accessible. While some of these contents are digitized, they are not very visible on the web and may be hard to find. The localization and the access to these resources, all from the same domain, are currently fragmented: searches have to be performed on all the individual sites and databases of the holdking organizations. The general search engines do not allow for restricting the scope of the search to this domain nor to a geographic area, nor do they allow for domain-specific searches (such as instrumentation).

This gateway was developed in order to remedy to this situation. It allows for a federated search across all resources (information, contents) made available by its current and future partners, in order to provide for a faster and easier access to their holdings. It has been developed in parallel with the digitization of the more fragile documents in these collections, with the help of the French Ministère de la culture et de la communication and Sacem. It is open to all current and future patrons of these organizations: students, researchers and other professionals (teachers and professors, musicologists, composers, performers, event organisers, journalists…) from this and related domains (choreographers, stage and film directors…), music lovers and any person potentially interested in contemporary music.

It allows one to locate the essential information related to a music work (its score, recordings, program notes, press, analyses…) and to its creators (composers, performers…). Some of the contents are freely accessible from anywhere on the inter,et, while restricted access documents are available on the premises of the holding organization or any of the partners. Regarding sound recordings: as they are still under copyright, only excerpts are provided on the internet at large.