The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #19340 Message #287671
Posted By: Joe Offer
30-Aug-00 - 02:48 AM
Thread Name: Mudcat FAQ - Newcomer's Guide
Subject: Harvesting Lyrics
Well, the "harvesters" are Susan of DT and Joe Offer and Jim Dixon. Dick Greenhaus does some, but he does mostly the tunes and the technical stuff. I have met Susan of DT and found her to be quite human, and a very nice and interesting person.
Several people have posted documented evidence in the forum that has almost convinced me that Joe Offer is a computer program created by Max, but my mother insists it isn't true. Mom thinks Joe Offer is human. My ex-wife thinks so, too.
And being quite human, we occasionally miss songs that have been posted. If you post a song and don't see a ^^harvesting birdie at the end of the lyrics by the end of a week, send Susan or me a personal message, and tell us where we can find it. If you're willing to give us a little more slack, post a link to your song in the Songs you've posted (click) thread, and we will harvest and mark it at our leisure.
If you post songs, please post them in the Digital Tradition format, which is explained toward the top of this FAQ thread. We'd like to get tunes for all the songs in the database, and you'll find tune posting instructions in the FAQ and in the Please Post Tunes Here thread.
Rounds don't do anybody much good without a tune, so Dick usually stays away from them.
Dick and Susan have maintained the Digital Tradition since 1988. They make the decisions about what goes into the database, and what doesn't. I got recruited at the beginning of 2000. I just harvest, categorize, and format them, match them with the tune files, and send them as text files to Dick.
Generally, alternate versions of a song are included in the database only if the lyrics are substantially different from what's here. If a song is the same except for a few verses, I's suggest that you post the entire song so we know where all the verses fit, but mark the alternate verses some way so we know what's different and what's not.
There are some glaring mistakes in some songs in the database, and you're welcome to submit corrections (best to do it as a whole set of lyrics, with notes below to tell us what you think should be corrected). Remember, though, that we are dealing with folk songs, and we expect slight variations in lyrics and tunes and don't pay too much attention to that. If Ewan MacColl sang one word and A.L. Lloyd sang another, we probably won't care to make a change.
-Joe Offer, human being-
Somebody asked for a description of what Susan and I do to harvest songs for the database.
Here's the process:
Dick takes the songs and tunes and makes them into SongWright files, carefully matching the lyrics to the notes, and correcting the tunes where needed.
- Copy & mark the lyrics, and paste them into a word processor
(Jon Freeman figured out a way we can paste now without losing the stanza breaks, so that saves me a lot of time)
- Search the database to make sure we don't already have the song, and look for related songs or other versions of this song
- Look up the poster's real name in "membership" so I can put his/her initials at the end of the lyrics
(they always forget)
- Go through our 576 categories and decide which ones should be assigned to the song
(I'm hoping we can combine and eliminate some categories sooner or later)
- See if there are DT, Child, or Laws numbers that should be assigned to the song
- Come up with a filename 7 or 8 letters long, a filename that hasn't been used (related songs are given related filenames)
- Save the results as a text file, and then close Word and open the file in Notepad to make sure none of the stanza breaks disappeared
- If the tune is posted, match it with the song and ZIP it into a package. If no tune, solicit one, or try to find one in a songbook and transcribe it
- Being the independent maverick that I am, I've started adding a line of alternate titles and keywords to make songs easier to search for (like alternate spellings of "whiskey" and "singin'")
- ZIP together a packet of a reasonable number of songs, and send it off to Dick for further processing.
All this takes a lot of work, but thre are fringe benefits. I always have new material for my Wednesday night song circle. And you wouldn't believe the number of songs that Dick has in his head, and Susan has a serious passion for long ballads.
NOW do you understand why it takes so long? I actually think it wouldn't help to have more people do the harvesting, because even my added presence can tend to confuse things and Susan and I are still learning how to avoid duplicating each other's work - but it sure helps when people post songs that are already formatted and annotated.
Dick and Susan, is there any information you can add to my description of the process?
Some of you may have noted that I marked Kendall's lyrics for "East Virginia" with a three-winged harvesting birdie ^^^ - the third wing means the song is redundant because it's already in the database.
But it really isn't redundant. I don't think it's different enough to include in the database, but it's certainly of great value to have all the different variations posted in the forum.