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Tape music archives: from preservation to access


This article presents a methodology for the active preservation of, and the access to, magnetic tapes of audio archives. The methodology has been defined and implemented by a multidisciplinary team involving engineers as well as musicians, composers and archivists. The strong point of the methodology is the philological awareness that influenced the development of digital tools, which consider the critical questions in the historian and musicologist’s approach: the secondary information and the history of transmission of an audio document.

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Source: Centro di Sonologia Computazionale (CSC)

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  1. 1.

    An innovative music genre of the second half of the twentieth century, representing a paradigmatic case of recorded sound art with great implications on the musicological analysis side as well as on the preservation side. Tape music evolved along with technologies for music postproduction, embracing most genres and esthetics trends of recorded sound arts [37].

  2. 2.

    In this context, passive preservation is meant to defend the original system from external agents without altering the electronic components, and active preservation implies a virtualization of the equipment using a simulation.

  3. 3.

    “Many institutions have regretted the premature destruction of originals after making copies that proved to be inferior” [24, p. 13].


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The authors would like to thank Nicola Castaman, Mirco Maniero, Laura Nao and all the engineers who contributed to the coding of the tools described in Sect. 3.

Author information

Correspondence to Carlo Fantozzi.

Appendix: Assessment data

Appendix: Assessment data

This appendix contains supplementary material about the assessment of the REMIND app (see Sect. 4). The assessment was based on a set of 14 questions, which are reported below.

  1. Q1.

    Does the app always present information in a clear fashion?

  2. Q2.

    Are text messages and icons clear and unambiguous?

  3. Q3.

    Is the navigation structure (that is, how information is divided into several screens) easy to remember?

  4. Q4.

    Is the app sufficiently self-explanatory?

  5. Q5.

    Is the touch screen a convenient mean of interaction?

  6. Q6.

    Is the skeuomorphic interface actually interesting, or do you consider it a secondary detail?

  7. Q7.

    Do you think it is correct to offer no way of accessing music beyond sequential access (e.g., no random access)?

  8. Q8.

    Are the dimensions of the tablet adequate?

  9. Q9.

    Were all tasks easy (that is, no task that was thought to be easy proved difficult in practice)?

  10. Q10.

    Are metadata complete (that is, no useful metadata is missing)?

  11. Q11.

    Is the app complete (that is, no useful function is missing)?

  12. Q12.

    Are all implemented features actually useful?

  13. Q13.

    All in all, do you believe the app would allow you to analyze a piece of electronic music faster?

  14. Q14.

    All in all, do you believe the app would allow you to analyze a piece of electronic music more accurately?

Full answers from the professionals are available in Table 7.

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Fantozzi, C., Bressan, F., Pretto, N. et al. Tape music archives: from preservation to access. Int J Digit Libr 18, 233–249 (2017).

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  • Cultural memory
  • Audio collections
  • Tape music
  • A/D transfer
  • Metadata