Piano History

  • 1.  Reading and transcribing old documents with Transkribus

    Posted 14 days ago

    I have been doing research on the Ed. Westermayer piano company for some time.  After a lot of digging I was able to unearth almost 30 pages of documents related to an early patent from an archive in Berlin.  I was ecstatic when I found out I could get scans of them, but somewhat disappointed when I got them and realized t I could not read them. The issue was not the language - I can read German. The issue was that they were hand written, in an early script called Kurrent which was in common use at the time (1860s) but which has not been used or taught in over 80 years.  I asked around to see if maybe some old German folks could make it out, but everyone gave it a pass.

    Then I learned about an on-line transcribing software which was recently developed as a collaborative project by a number of European universities. Using AI, they developed models to read all kinds of old documents - handwritten and printed, from a number of cultures and languages.

    I create an online account, upload my files as JPEGs and the software reads them and creates files which then can be edited and then downloaded. In my case, there  were all kinds of side notes, foot notes, and other markings which the software cannot easily identify and mostly intersperses them in within the text.  Hence the online editing prior to downloading of the finished file.

    This free service has saved me from the equivalent of having to learn to read a new language.  I can highly recommend it for anyone doing research and running to difficulties reading old documents in any language.

    Transkribus.org

    They have some tutorials on Youtube, which are admittedly not very exciting (perhaps because this is a project done by historians) but this online app has been a huge help for me in my work.



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    Jurgen Goering
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  • 2.  RE: Reading and transcribing old documents with Transkribus

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 14 days ago
    That’s great, Jurgen.
    That action is quite unique.
    Do you still have your piano?
    I’ll be interested to see what you learn.
    Laura Olsen
    Sent from my iPhone




  • 3.  RE: Reading and transcribing old documents with Transkribus

    Posted 14 days ago

    Laura: Oh yes, I still have the piano and am restoring it bit by bit.

    I have claimed a domain for Westermayer and am putting together content for creation of a website for this brand. My placeholder page asks for input from the public and I have heard from people all around the world.  So many Westermayer stories. I have talked to a man homesteading in the wilds of Australia and to a German baron living in his family's 500 year old estate surrounded by a moat. There is now a small mountain of information and sifting, sorting and putting it together in a presentable way is quite a challenge and a big job. I am learning so much along the way.



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    Jurgen Goering
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  • 4.  RE: Reading and transcribing old documents with Transkribus

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 14 days ago
    I think I sent you all the pictures of the one I worked on, but if I didn’t - I can.
    Enjoy!
    Laura
    Sent from my iPhone




  • 5.  RE: Reading and transcribing old documents with Transkribus

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 14 days ago
    Thanks, Jurgen. 

    That is true of old French patents as well (not a special kind of handwriting, but the fact that they are in script). I have a scan of the Inventory after death of Claude Montal, also handwritten (it includes an account of every single tool and piano part in his factory at his death). It takes a lot of time to wade through those documents and make out the words. I'll give it a try.

    Regards,
    Fred Sturm
    "I am only interested in music that is better than it can be played." Schnabel