I'll be posting a April's Musical of the Month later this week, but before I do, I wanted to share the results of a little experiment.
I recently discovered a new music streaming subscription called Rdio which, for a monthly subscription fee (currently about $5), allows one unlimited access to all of the songs in their catalog. It's more or less the same idea as Spotify, but with one really cool feature for programmers: an open and easy to use API (application programming interface) for playing music within your own site.
As I described in an earlier post, an API is a set of computer commands that software developers expose to the world so that other programmers can perform an action on their systems (often to retrieve data). NYPL just launched our own API to expose our digital collections and metadata. Rdio's API allows me a legal way to play music within an NYPL owned web page.
Rdio's API gives me to connect commercial musical recordings to the historical musical theater scripts. If you've ever listened to a cast recording while reading along in a printed script, you'll know its a bit of an awkward experience. I've been looking for ways to make this connection of music and text more elegant, and Rdio may have provided one.
The link below points to an HTML version of the script for Very Good Eddie which I've connected to the 1975 revival cast recording. You will need Flash to use the page, and it will not work on a mobile browser (a phone, eReader, iPad, etc.). You may also need to allow popups for the page. When the page loads you'll be asked to sign in to Rdio or to sign up for a new Rdio account. You can do this either by linking your Facebook account to Rdio, or by creating a new account from scratch (the sign up form makes the Facebook path a lot clearer, probably to encourage you to share your Facebook profile with Rdio). If you've never used the service before, you won't need to pay anything or provide any credit card information as Rdio currently offers a relatively generous preview period to test it out. After creating an account, you may need to refresh and "connect your Rdio account to Musical of the Month."
Once you've signed in, you'll see a little "play" icon in both the upper left hand corner (above the table of contents) and at the beginning of many of the songs. If you click one of the icons within the text itself, the music will start at the moment in the musical. Note that the music of the revival appears to have differed significantly from the original production, so not every song is linked to the text.
Let me know what you think.
Read it now: Very Good Eddie (HTML+Rdio edition)