Monday, June 20, 2011


My dad sent me a link to this really cool site called today. LibriVox is a site that provides completely free audio recordings of public domain works read aloud. I immediately searched their archive for my favorite authors—Christopher Marlowe first, of course, followed by Alexander Pope. I was thrilled to find a full recording of Marlowe’s "Hero and Leander," and one of Pope's "Essay on Man." Hearing the pieces read aloud by someone with knowledge of the works, I thought, was very similar to taking an English seminar and hearing a scholar read a work with the proper inflection and cadence. Except, in this case, there was an entire archive of scholars reading, all at my fingertips.

And so, in a way, the project is very close to the PennSound poetry project, a project very dear to me that provides freely downloadable mp3s of poetry. PennSound gives the opportunity to hear a poet reading his or her own work, and in my favorite section, PennSound Classics, to hear Renaissance and Medieval scholars reading works the way they were meant to be read/performed (it was really awesome to be able to record David Wallace reading Chaucer).

I'm hoping to one day work on a project that will allow for a mixed multimedia presentation of the text of literary works and the audio of a reading of the work. This sort of project is usually called "alignment," and allows for awesome integration of textual presentation and multimedia presentation. For example, one could highlight lines of a poem and hear the author or a scholar read just the highlighted text. If the process could ever be automated well, imagine what could be done by bringing together an audio archive like LibriVox with a textual archive like Project Gutenberg!

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