Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Search I Couldn't Find

I'm certain it happens to all of us.  We just can't find something we're looking for. We run out of options and/or energy and have to give up (for now or for good). It's one reason why I consider information research mastery on the Internet to be somewhere around 80%.

This happened to me recently while looking online for information about a musical score. A member of my church (where I'm the music director) recommended an arrangement of a hymn she heard while on vacation. Here's an excerpt from her email:
"I was in Albuquerque in May for my granddaughter's high school graduation; she played a recital on violin accompanied on piano. There was a beautiful arrangement of "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, arranged by Paul Bailey and Charles Romer.  It would be a beautiful piece to play on a Sunday morning if you know of a violinist."
Normally, this would be plenty of information to track the piece down to a source.  I was hoping to find a copy to download (for free or a license), but would have settled to find the publisher and order a copy.

A sensible query would be:  come thou font of every blessing paul bailey charles romer.  It's pretty long, but to find the song title and the arrangers, this seems like the best path.  But it doesn't work. In Google, you get about six relevant entries matching the title and arrangers before Charles Dickens references start popping up--apparently the most popular match for Charles. None of the results is a musical score or a path to a score.

Putting quotes around the title is risky. Am I sure the title is spelled correctly or includes only these words?  There is another spelling for fount (font). Putting quotes around the arrangers names may also eliminate all the instances where a middle initial is used. But it's worth a try. Quotes around the title returns 2 results, neither of which is relevant. Quotes around the arrangers names (separately) returns about 6 results, none of which is a musical score. The results are mainly bulletins that shows the song was performed in a service.


I thought I would try a Deep Web search by going to a database of scores and publishers. The biggies in this field (e.g., www.sheetmusicplus.com, jwpepper.com, etc.) don't list the song with these arrangers. There are plenty of arrangements of the song, but by different arrangers. This is starting to feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. But which Deep Web haystack?

Advanced search filters didn't help, limiting results to violin and title or arrangers produced no relevant results that lined up all the information.

I did find the music online and downloaded it. But the granddaughter first had to share a link with me. Sometimes the quickest way is still to ask someone who knows.

There are other clues such as the publisher of the music that may be found just with good searching.  I found that before I gave up. I'll leave that as the challenge. Who published the music? And if you're up for a tough challenge, where can you download a copy?

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