||Jun 29, 2009 by
||This is a very well designed, segmented, and commented online presentation of Rimsky-Korsakovs Principles of Orchestration, enriched by interactive musical examples and editorial comments by the sites creator, Prof Alan Belkin (University of Montreal).
The books contents have been transferred online with no obvious errors, include clearly demarcated and insightful editorial comments, and offer users the opportunity to add their own comments and enter into content related discussions. This Blog/Wiki-like feature gives the site a dynamism that is rare in most MERLOT resources reviewed, and provides, conceptually, a standard to which all online educational resources should be aspiring.
Note: Taking advantage of the sites discussion/commenting features requires (a quick and easy) registration.
The initially cluttered impression of the site (caused by the Blog/Wiki-like context in which the information is presented) can be quickly overcome (after ~15 minutes of use), even by audiences not familiar with Blog layouts and function (e.g. old-school fellow faculty at my institution).
Most other users are able to explore/interact with the site immediately, and several colleagues at DePaul Universitys School of Music already use the site in their classes.
The site is set up as one of the forums within www.northernsounds.com, a self-described community ranging from world renowned composers, musicians and developers to up and coming students aspiring to learn the techniques of these great composers
a gathering place of people who have a common love for music.
Northern Sounds is one of the communication and educational outlets of Garritan Interactive (www.garritan.com), a producer and seller of virtual/digital musical sounds, instruments, and scores.
This is one of the most popular sites of its kind, linked-to from a vast number of online libraries, news and educational organizations, music forums, and more.
In addition to MERLOT, this site is part of a larger, free online textbook library with resources on the topics addressed during the first two years of most undergraduate programs:
GlobalTexts includes links to other similar projects (Textbook Revolution) and to several isolated efforts. Most textbooks include original content created by faculty members from around the world, while some sites, as is the case with the one reviewed, re-publish existing, public-domain texts, with editorial commentary.
|Type of Material:
||Collection / Reference Material, enriched by interactive audio and musical score examples. The learning impact of the resource is enhanced by expert editorial commentary and by ongoing discussions involving numerous composers, arrangers, and educators.
This re-purposing and re-publication of Rimsky-Korsakovs classic provides the work with new life and allows it to be continuously re-discovered through the user discussions.
||This commentary- and multimedia-enriched textbook may be used as a traditional textbook, assigning a lesson at a time, or as an assignment resource, requiring from students to create a discussion thread or contribute to one of the many ongoing discussions.
||Latest I.E. or Firefox browser with the Flash and Shockwave Player plug-ins. The browser must be configured to accept cookies and to run Active X scripts.
|Identify Major Learning Goals:
||Users interested in orchestration have the opportunity to go though Rimsky-Korsakovs classic, Principles of Orchestration, chapter (lesson) by chapter (lesson). The book contents have been enriched with interactive scores and midi-based audio, which bring the books musical examples to life.
Users can also benefit by the site creators editorial comments and by the ongoing content-related discussions, which involve composers, arrangers, and educators.
|Target Student Population:
||Although all students past the 5th grade can benefit from the site, the audience that will get the most out of it is college-level music students. Participating in the ongoing discussions provides a wonderful learning opportunity; an opportunity to interact with the materials and with composers/educators/students about the materials in a dynamic and context-specific manner.
|Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
||The site is well and efficiently designed, overall, requiring some knowledge on the topic, and just-above-basic computer and web-browsing skills (may need to install a plug-in or two, complete a basic registration process, configure the browser to allow cookies and perform Active X commands, etc.).