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Eunah Choi, blind pianist, explains the need for Braille music scores

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Published on Oct 1, 2013

Please help us make 50,000 more musical scores available to the blind! http://kck.st/openwtc

Hello, I am Eunah, an ESL teacher in South Korea, and I happen to be totally blind.

I enjoy playing the piano in my free time. I started to take piano lessons when I was just six years old, and I've been playing ever since. I once thought of becoming a concert pianist, but there were too many obstacles for studying music as a blind student in Korea.

One very big problem for me back then (& even these days) is that finding braille music scores are prohibitively difficult. Case in point, only 7 of Mozart's piano sonatas are available as braille scores in Korea. It seems unbelievable, but I am not making this up. So, I didn't have any choice but to give up my dream of becoming a professional musician.

Sadly, it is not just me; many blind students in Korea find their hopes shattered by this absurd reality. Fortunately, most blind Koreans nowadays are equipped with computers and high speed Internet access, so, getting public domain music recordings are easy. Many young blind musicians in this country listen to recordings over and over, and try to imitate the sounds as closely as possible.

If the music demands a higher level of accuracy, they rely on volunteer music transcribers who are working in libraries for the blind to get the score they need and practice with it. The volunteer transcribers and braille music proofreaders try their best to produce good-quality braille scores, but since every single musical note has to be typed by hand - I'm talking about every single musical note - it is a very time-consuming process. And depending on each transcriber's or proofreader's experience and familiarity with the music being transcribed, the quality of the braille scores can be anything from excellent to absolutely lousy.

That's why I look forward to a day when every person can find reliable recordings and scores for public domain classical music on the Internet. When I backed the Open Well-tempered Clavier project [http://kck.st/openwtc], I was really excited because you said that you will release the score using MuseScore notation software. I searched for the Open Goldberg Variations score and found of that you released it in open formats such as MIDI and MusicXML.

I think MusicXML can be really useful for blind musicians as well as sighted ones, because it can be used to automatically generate braille scores using braille translation software. To the best of my knowledge, transcribing MusicXML files into Braille is currently not possible, but I'm sure someone will come up with a way to accomplish that task. Hopefully you will release the WTC score in MusicXML format, along with other open formats.

Thank you for listening. I really feel proud to back this project and be a part of it. People like you make our cyberspace such a beautiful place and keeps hope alive. I would like to quote the last two lines of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18:

"So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."

I'm certain that the Open Goldberg recording and the Open WTC recording will make people remember you and your wife forever. Perhaps you can use the above quotation when making a commercial for your next public domain music recording project? Anyway, there will be no legal threats or copyright infringement claims from Shakespeare's heirs! Haha!

Good luck to you and your wife, and I wish you nothing but success with the Open Well-Tempered Clavier project.

Sincerely,

Eunah

Support us at: http://kck.st/openwtc

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