Thursday, October 14, 2010

UHS for trombone history

OK, it's confession time.

I'm a trombone professor so I'm supposed to be interested in the history of the trombone. Fascinated by it. Obsessed with it.
Except I'm not.
Don't get me wrong, I know of a lot of basics and keep learning as I go.
I'm really impressed by the online history posted by Will Kimball.
But, as I read it, or read Trevor Herbert's book, I can only process so much detail before numbness sets in.
A few years ago (and way past its shelf date) my kids and I get a copy of the original Myst game and played it together one summer.
We had a blast and, yes, sometimes we got stuck.
That's when we discovered the UHS website (Universal Hint System). What we liked about this site was the manner in which it gave progressively more obvious hints to help us through the game. So, if you're stuck, you start with the first one or two hints.

Something like this:
If you're you're still stuck, you can click on more hints until you are basically reading a walk-through.
Something like this:

All this makes me think about the sense of detail overload I get from reading trombone histories.
Maybe the information could be presented in a "UHS manner". It would start with something fairly basic and then give you the option to increase the level of detail.
It could look something like this:

The Trombone first appears around 1400

Later on, if you sought more detail, it might proceed like this:

The Trombone first appears around 1400

Some scholars think they appear in
northern Italy and southern France (Eliason)

According to other scholars, it is more likely,
based on performer nationalities and manufacturing locations,
that the trombone originates in Germany
(Herbert, Susato 117; Polk, Archival Documents)


(Much of what you see in the example above
I pasted from Will Kimball's excellent history.)

I guess this basically boils down to an outline history. Still, I think there might be something appealing in the concept of presenting a tidbit of info and tempting the reader to move into deeper detail if they want.
Hmmmm, maybe an online application for this? I would say "an app for that" but I hear Apple is claiming that they own that phrase.
Still, I could see some enterprising DMA student running with this idea.....

any takers?