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hpr1909 :: Creating an Open, Embedded-Media Music Textbook

This is a recording of my presentation at the recent national joint CMS/ATMI meeting in Indianapolis

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Hosted by Jon Kulp on 2015-11-26 is flagged as Clean and is released under a CC-BY-SA license.
open learning materials, counterpoint, music theory, html, ebooks, epub, public domain. 4.
The show is available on the Internet Archive at:

Listen in ogg, spx, or mp3 format. Play now:

Duration: 00:29:55


Re-Invigorating the Wheel: Creating an Open, Embedded-Media Music Textbook for the Digital Age

This is a recording of a presentation I gave on November 7th, 2015, at the national joint meeting of the College Music Society (CMS) and the Association for Technology in Music Instruction (ATMI) in Indianapolis, Indiana. I even have some action photos! Click on the first image below to visit the Flickr photo album, which also includes the slides from my presentation.

ATMI 2015 photo Album on Flickr


  • Percy Goetschius. Counterpoint Applied in the Invention, Fugue, Canon and Other Polyphonic Forms. New York: G. Schirmer, 1902. Download
  • ________. Exercises in Elementary Counterpoint. New York: G Schirmer, 1910. Download
  • Kent Kennan. Counterpoint, 4th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1999.
  • Jonathan Kulp, Gratis ad Parnassum: A Free Workbook for 18th-Century Counterpoint. Lafayette, LA: [no publisher] 2009. view pdf
  • Friedrich J. Lehmann. A Treatise on Simple Counterpoint in Forty Lessons. New York: G Schirmer, 1907. (This is the one I found on Project Gutenberg that I did not think was suitable as a textbook for my class)

Resources Mentioned

Watch My Workflow:

Serious Nerds Only

Many of the tedious repetitive processes I had to do on image files and audio files are done by bash scripts that are launched by voice commands, as demonstrated in the YouTube video above. The processes I'm talking about are things like renaming files according to my filenaming conventions, putting the files in the right place, resizing images, converting images to different formats, optimizing them for file size, converting audio from MIDI to ogg and mp3, and reducing audio from two channels to one in order to reduce file size. Below are the main tools I use for this, apart from the Linux bash shell itself. If you're interested in actually seeing the scripts I wrote to perform the magic, I am happy to share. Just drop me an email.

  • Calibre command-line tools: these were essential to automate the process of converting the source HTML file into the various versions and eBook formats of the book. Without this I might have thrown up my hands in defeat long ago.
  • ImageMagick: command-line image-manipulation tools
  • sox: command-line audio-manipulation tool, "the Swiss Army knife of sound processing programs."
  • optipng: command-line png optimizer. This is important to keep the book's file size as small as possible.
  • jpegoptim: command-line jpeg optimizer.
  • TiMidity++: an open-source, command-line MIDI-to-WAVE converter and player.
  • LAME: high quality MPEG Audio Layer III (MP3) encoder licensed under the LGPL.
  • oggenc (part of vorbis-tools): Several tools to use, manipulate and create Vorbis files (vorbis is a free audio codec).


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Comment #1 posted on 2015-11-26 09:49:54 by Mike Ray

Calibre cli

Good show John.

Amusing to hear one or two questioners at the end really struggling with the concept of doing 'something for nothing'. Thought she might call you a communist :-)

How about a show talking about how you use Calibre's command-line to create your books? I'm curious about how to create ePub books from either plain text, markdown or HTML

Comment #2 posted on 2015-11-26 12:57:03 by Jonathan Kulp

Valuing Musicians

Haha true she wasn't crazy about the "free" aspect, but to be fair, musicians face an ongoing struggle against people undervaluing their skills, whether it be someone balking at the "outrageous" price for private lessons or the "scandalous" fee to play at a wedding. People think music is all fun and games, but for professionals it's hard work, a highly specialized skill developed over many years. I think her questions were coming from the perspective of someone fighting to make sure musicians' skills are properly valued. I get this.

I'll definitely do a show about calibre conversions, both with the GUI and the CLI. Thanks for the comments!

Comment #3 posted on 2015-11-27 02:02:14 by b-yeezi

Great show

Thanks for sharing this presentation. I enjoyed the entire thing and will use some of your ideas in my own projects. I especially enjoyed your explanations of creative commons and free software in a way that was clear and accurate, but not too preachy. These concepts are so foreign to some people that is entertaining to hear their reactions when they are exposed to free culture.

Thanks again and I am looking forward to your next show.

Comment #4 posted on 2015-12-01 18:12:59 by Frank

Though it's been a long time since I have to buy one, I fully share your sentiments about the college textbook industry. The publishers block the paths of learning, raise their flintlocks at students, and cry "Stand and deliver."

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