Heuristic and supervised approaches to handwritten annotation extraction for musical score images

Bell, Eamonn Patrick; Pugin, Laurent

Performers' copies of musical scores are typically rich in handwritten annotations, which capture historical and institutional performance practices. The development of rich, interactive interfaces to explore digital archives of these scores and the systematic investigation of their meaning and function will be facilitated by the automatic extraction of handwritten score annotations. We present several approaches to the extraction of handwritten annotations of arbitrary content from digitized images of musical scores. First, we show promising results in certain contexts when using simple unsupervised clustering techniques to identify handwritten annotations in conductors' scores. Next, we compare annotated scores to unannotated copies and use a printed sheet music comparison tool, Aruspix, to recover handwritten annotations as additions to the clean copy. Using both of these techniques in a combined annotation pipeline qualitatively improves the recovery of handwritten annotations.

Recent work has shown the effectiveness of reframing classical optical musical recognition tasks as supervised machine learning classification tasks. In the same spirit, we pose the problem of handwritten annotation extraction as a supervised pixel classification task, where the feature space for the learning task is derived from the intensities of neighboring pixels. After an initial investment of time required to develop dependable training data, this approach can reliably extract annotations for entire volumes of score images without further supervision. These techniques are demonstrated using a sample of orchestral scores annotated by professional conductors of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. 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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International Journal on Digital Libraries

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September 28, 2020