Approaches to handwritten conductor annotation extraction in musical scores
Conductor copies of musical scores are typically rich in handwritten annotations. Ongoing archival efforts to digitize orchestral conductors' scores have made scanned copies of hundreds of these annotated scores available in digital formats. The extraction of handwritten annotations from digitized printed documents is a difficult task for computer vision, with most approaches focusing on the extraction of handwritten text. However, conductors' annotation practices provide us with at least two affordances, which make the task more tractable in the musical domain. First, many conductors opt to mark their scores using colored pencils, which contrast with the black and white print of sheet music. Consequently, we show promising results when using color separation techniques alone to recover handwritten annotations from conductors' scores. We also compare annotated scores to unannotated copies and use a printed sheet music comparison tool to recover handwritten annotations as additions to the clean copy. We then investigate the use of both of these techniques in a combined method, which improves the results of the color separation technique. These techniques are demonstrated using a sample of orchestral scores annotated by professional conductors of the New York Philharmonic. Handwritten annotation extraction in musical scores has applications to the systematic investigation of score annotation practices by performers, annotator attribution, and to the interactive presentation of annotated scores, which we briefly discuss.
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