Formatting Keys to Play

by Roger Moseley, author of Keys to Play: Music as a Ludic Medium from Apollo to Nintendo

This guest post is published in conjunction with the just-concluded annual conference of the American Musicological Society where Keys to Play was awarded the 2017 Otto Kinkeldey Award


Those who write about play from scholarly perspectives are caught in a double bind: the sober imperative to take play seriously is hard to ignore, while the pressure to be suitably whimsical can be equally stifling. When I started tapping on my computer keyboard to form the strands of text that would eventually become Keys to Play, I lacked a clear sense of how the book would trace the course of its ludic subjects (which range from Apollo to Nintendo by way of Mozart) and could not foresee how those strands might be braided in order to bear structural weight.

As someone committed to the history and analysis of media, however, I was all too conscious of the extent to which works of art, fields of play, and discursive parameters are defined by their material affordances and constraints. Perhaps it should have been no surprise, then, that solutions to my quandaries could be found in the multifarious formats—both digital and analog—in which Keys to Play was to be published.

From the start, I was delighted that the book was to appear under the imprimatur of UC Press’s open-access Luminos program. Like many others, I was attracted by the notion of making my research accessible to a broader readership by removing the barrier of cost. What I didn’t initially realize was the degree to which the complementary formats of print-on-demand, PDF, EPUB, and Mobi would help me appreciate how the ludomusical phenomena under discussion could be experienced. In particular, they led me to consider how the book’s audiovisual elements, which include audio recordings I made with my Cornell colleagues and video footage of digital games, might best be integrated.

While companion websites to books on music and the other arts are commonplace, the print and PDF versions of Luminos titles improve the experience by incorporating not only digital object identifier (DOI) links, but also QR codes that, when scanned by a smartphone camera, take the reader directly to the media in question. The EPUB format, which is compatible with both Google Books and Apple’s iBooks, goes one better by embedding audiovisual materials within the document itself: upon tapping any video still or musical example, it starts to play. Keys to Play was the first book in the Luminos program to take advantage of this functionality, which I believe has the potential to transform scholarly writing about music, games, and other media.

The EPUB version of Keys to Play also allows readers to jump around the main text and the endnotes by tapping the note markers. The nonlinearity of this type of navigation guided me toward the structural solution I’d been seeking from the outset. Instead of five traditional chapters, the book comprises five “keys,” each of which consists in turn of five miniature keys.

This recursive arrangement reflects the book’s media-archaeological method as well as the interface of the keyboard itself. Moreover, it enabled me to inject a degree of combinatorial playfulness—one of the book’s central themes—by composing the final miniature key (“Replay: A Cento”) as a permutation of sentences drawn from each of its predecessors. In the EPUB version, tapping the relevant note markers reveals the source of each sentence, which in turn leads back to the concluding section.

With all that said, and despite the exciting opportunities that formats such as EPUB and Mobi present, I must confess that the print-on-demand version of Keys to Play remains closest to my heart. It’s somehow comforting to know that, with the click of a button, the book’s contents can still be tangibly materialized, gathered, and bound. What is more, the speed with which the analog version’s full-color images can be randomly accessed with a flicking thumb puts the search-and-scroll performance of its digital siblings to shame.


Roger Moseley is Assistant Professor of Music at Cornell University. Active as a collaborative pianist on modern and historical instruments, he has published essays on the interface of the keyboard, the performativity of digital games, the practice of eighteenth-century improvisation, and the music of Brahms.

Keys to Play is published in University of California Press’s Luminos open access book program. Click here to download a free digital copy.

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Congratulations AMS Award Winners

UC Press is honored to have numerous books and journals among the award winners at the 2017 American Musicological Society Conference. Please join us in congratulating the following  award winners.

Book Awards

Free ebook editions of the award-winning titles are available through Luminos, UC Press’s Open Access publishing program. Click on the direct links below and/or visit www.luminosoa.org to download free digital copies and sign up for the Luminos eNewsletter to learn more.

Keys to Play cover Moseley

 

Otto Kinkeldey Award 
for outstanding work of musicological scholarship (beyond early stages)

Keys to Play: Music as a Ludic Medium from Apollo to Nintendo
by Roger Moseley

 

 

 

 

 

Lewis Lockwood Award 
for outstanding work of musicological scholarship (early stages)

Instruments for New Music: Sound, Technology, and Modernism
by Thomas Patteson

 

 

 

 

Article Awards

In celebration, we are making the award-winning articles free without a subscription for a limited time.

Robert M. Stevenson Award 
for outstanding scholarship in Iberian music, including music composed, performed, created, collected, belonging to, or descended from the musical cultures of Spain, Portugal, and all Latin American areas in which Spanish and Portuguese are spoken.

Carlos Chávez’s Polysemic Style: Constructing the National, Seeking the Cosmopolitan
by Leonora Saavedra
Journal of the American Musicological Society

 

H. Colin Slim Award 
for outstanding article in musicology (beyond early stages)

Sentimental Remembrance and the Amusements of Forgetting in Karl and Harty’s “Kentucky”
by Sumanth Gopinath and Anna Schulz
Journal of the American Musicological Society

 

 

Alfred Einstein Award
for outstanding article in musicology (early stages)

Solidarity, Song, and the Sound Document
Andrea F. Bohlman
The Journal of Musicology

 

 


Join us at the American Musicological Society Annual Meeting

This week the 2017 American Musicological Society’s annual meeting convenes in Rochester, New York and AMS members can save 40% on new and forthcoming titles when they visit our booth in the exhibit hall.

If you cannot attend the meeting, the discount is available online for 15 days after the show—use source code 17E9198 online (enter code at checkout).

Meanwhile get an early look at some of the titles we’ll have on view:

          
 

          
 

          

We are also offering a chance to win a free paperback copy of one of our Luminos Open Access music titles. The digital editions are always free (visit luminosoa.org to download), but please visit our booth at AMS to enter to win a print copy of your choice of either Keys to Play by Roger Moseley or Instruments for New Music by Thomas Patteson.

     

Watch this space through the weekend for more #amsroc17 posts, with free content from UC Press journals and more.