The metadata created as part of the IN Harmony project was required to meet three primary criteria: 1) to provide effective user access to sheet music, including its special and unique properties; 2) meet the needs of the diverse IN Harmony project partners; and 3) provide for interoperability, ensuring re-use between current and future digital library systems.

Effective user access

The IN Harmony project team embarked on a series of user studies to better understand the functional requirements for discovery of sheet music by our target user populations. We used the lessons from these studies to design a metadata model for sheet music, taking care to provide access points for areas highlighted in the user studies, for example; genre, instrumentation, and topic of the cover art. The metadata model is documented in a fields list and a set of cataloging guidelines describing how to enter data into the IN Harmony metadata fields.

Diverse project partners

Each of the IN Harmony project partners has unique needs for the description of their collections. Some focus more on the musical content, some on the arrangement and organization of a collection by its compiler, and some on the cover art. The IN Harmony metadata model was designed to support these diverse needs. In the project metadata model, only an ID number and a primary title are required; all other IN Harmony fields are optional. Our approach to ensuring complete and high-quality metadata was to present project partners with the results of our user studies so that they understood the function of each field in the metadata model and to provide the partners with a metadata creation interface that was easy to use.

IN Harmony Sheet Music Cataloging Application

To support the IN Harmony metadata model for sheet music, we developed a custom cataloging tool that was made available to each of the project partners. This tool was optimized for the description of sheet music, for example, offering the selection of creator roles relevant to sheet music (including composer, arranger, and lyricist), and providing pre-determined lists of common genres and instrumentation. The cataloging tool also was designed to make it easy to re-use terms from previously-entered records, such as names and subjects. Source code and installable versions of this application for Windows and Macintosh are available from SourceForge.

Metadata creation also needs to fit in each partner's overall digital library workflow. Three of the four project partners used the IN Harmony tool to create metadata, but a fourth found it more appropriate to use a metadata creation system already in place at the institution. In this case, the IN Harmony project team developed mappings from data exported from the local system into the IN Harmony model so that the metadata could be integrated into the centralized search system.


While the native metadata for the IN Harmony project was specifically designed for sheet music, it must still interoperate with metadata for materials in other formats, and in systems that are currently in use and that may be developed in the foreseeable future. To achieve this goal, the IN Harmony metadata, while presented to catalogers as specialized fields for sheet music, is ultimately stored in a standard metadata format, the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS). This metadata is also mapped to simple Dublin Core, for interoperability with systems based on that format. We will soon make MODS and DC metadata from IN Harmony available for harvesting via OAI-PMH. The IN Harmony metadata fields list provides a mapping from the IN Harmony model to MODS, and the IN Harmony MODS XML template documents the IN Harmony metadata as it is represented in MODS.