When I initially embarked on this project, I had very little knowledge of the technical aspects of what would be required. Being a bit familiar with various music software over the years, I wondered, how difficult can this be? I did find out in due course that the balancing of information and technology is quite a task.
This whole process of deciding which platform to use came as a result of a course at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, Ill. This course entitled 'Instructional Design' was instructed by Mr. Mark Jacoby and sparked my interest in the use of the computer as a platform for an exposition on Bahamian musicians and entertainers. Following that summer session, I began the arduous process of learning as much as I could about the various programs and software needed to support this project. I did give much consideration to the use of the print medium but, taking into consideration the flexibility of updating information, decided that some sort of computer generated project was preferable.
The first step was to acquire and learn the software. I settled for the education version of Macromedia, a company that offered a bundle of five different software (Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, Freehand. and Cold Fusion). I must admit, for the better part of one year I had to study and test the many applications possible with these programs. It was not until late 2003 that I truly began to grasp the concept of how these software work. Attempts were made to find a tutor for the computer application side of the project, but to no avail. Equipped with a laptop and a digital camera & camcorder, the tedious task of conducting interviews, listening to and recording existing Bahamian records, and digging through old news papers began.
Helene Peloquin was in the process of cataloguing some information such as miscellaneous news clips and photographs for the Bahamas Musicians & Entertainers Union Library. We shared some information, which went a long way in expanding both of our libraries.
Other software that were used in preparing this project -
MGI Photosuite III
Cool Edit Pro
The Entire Microsoft Office Suite
Hardware used - Compaq Presario 3000
Olympus C-2100 Digital Camera
Canon ZR40 DV Camcorder
HP Scanjet 4470c
Mac PoweerBook G4
While spending countless hours daily learning the computer applications, It became quite a challenge having to conduct interviews with artists in Nassau on the Island of New Providence, and in other Islands of The Bahamas. Most of these interviews were held at the artists’ homes or offices and were captured on audio and videotape. In addition to the software challenges, I had to learn about digital photography, and videography. I recall that when Mr. Jacoby saw the first site in my project, he strongly declared, “These files are too large!” prompting me to go back and edit many photo files. Careful attention was now being placed on file sizes as well as number of files on each artist.
The Nassau Guardian, Nassau Public Library, National Archives, and The Bahamas Musicians and Entertainers Union (all in Nassau, Bahamas) provided much assistance in the gathering of relevant information. In order to deal with copyright issues, a release form was created stating the purpose of this project. This form was presented to those artists that were available for interviews. Consent of the artists would therefore be required for any other use of the information.
Equally as important to exposing our musical history is the need to operate in a lawful and considerate manner. As stated earlier, I really didn't expect to find the amount of information that I had uncovered. The most educational part of this project was the interviews, which gave me great insight into the history of the music industry here in the Bahamas. Artists not only invited me into their homes, but also into their lives, and for that I have truly been transformed to having an even greater appreciation for this profession. The realization that we can live forever through our work struck a chord with me. Not only did these artists speak of themselves, but they also gave me a clearer understanding of the history of our young nation.
Most of my interviews were kept to approximately 2 hours, which really wasn't nearly enough to capture the particular interviewee’s whole musical career let alone the history of our industry. I do appreciate the fact that these artists accommodated my phone calls for clarification or additional information needed. I ended up with files numbering in the hundreds, each file, whether it was music, photo, news clip, interview, or video, demanded special and individual attention as to how it would best be included within this project.
I had to learn very quickly how to manage the volumes of information so they could be easily accessed. All of the photos had to be uniformly edited, the music had to be transferred from vinyl records to mp3 (computer audio) files, and information from news papers and the internet had to be sorted and edited in a workable fashion. The most important element of managing this entire project was remembering to back-up my information frequently.
Towards the end of this project, a switch was made from PC to Mac due to technical glitches on the PC platform.
There were times when information got lost due to power interruptions and computer glitches, but I kept pressing forward. Looking back, it was equally as challenging to learn the platform in which I chose to work and the management and editing of the information itself. Balancing which elements could be left out of this project against which ones to include was a constant dilemma. However, the light at the end of the tunnel kept me moving forward.
The information gathered during this process, is truly overwhelming. But I know that it would have been worth the effort once this process is up and running, and updated to eventually adding all of our musicians and entertainers.