The Etude
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About

About The Etude Magazine Web Site

ABOUT THIS WEB SITE

I posted this update in April, 2020, though I would have bet cash money I posted a version of it in 2018. 

Etudemagazine.com was a long-running project in which I digitized my collection of "The Etude Music Magazine". I scanned the article content of the magazine and converted selected stories to text with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software. For the most part I did not scan the sheet music.

My interest in the magazine and this project stemmed from a confluence of matters. I graduated conservatory with a double-degree in piano performance and musicology, so my affinity for this material should need no explanation. I also had over 20 years experience in web development, and wanted to leverage those abilities to do more with the project than just scan and dump the magazine content, leaving the quality of the content at the whim of garbled OCR renditions. I built department-specific searches with customized output that plugged in public domain biographical info for searches on the major composers. I also converted some copies to Flipbook format. 

I really was rather proud of the project but all things change, and the search software I used was abandoned by its developers, as was the Flipbook generator. I cannot even force the search software to install on a CentOS7 box, but even if I could it would be unwise to stay in production with abandonware. I never found a suitable replacement, which is unfortunate, because that part of this project really rocked.

I also accomplished something I'd never seen anyone else do: Integrate Gallery2 software with Movable Type. I know Movable Type fell out of fashion long ago but I still think it possesses the best and most intuitive templating system I've ever used. 

I am also a bit of a URL geek, and wanted the web addresses for individual issues to reflect their year and month of publication. Thus all articles from the November, 1887, issue (the oldest copy I had) are under URLs that start with https://etudemagazine.com/etude/1887/11/. 

Had I wanted to use something like Wordpress or another PHP-based content management system this URL format would have been difficult if not impossible for content dated prior to 1900.  It is, or at least was a bug in PHP. I wouldn't know if PHP developers quashed that bug by now but its presence helped inform my decision to go with Movable Type, a Perl-based product with no such back-date limitation.

In 2018 I discarded most of my copies of those magazines, as a paper abatement move and also because the folks at archive.org finally got around to scanning the complete run of "The Etude", albeit at widely varying levels of quality and completeness. 

You can also find what appears to be a nearly-complete set of scans at Gardner-Webb University, a limited quantity of issues can be found at the Hathi Trust Digital Library, and a select quantity of issues can be found by digging around Google Books. There are likely other sources out there for this stuff.

Unloading all those copies was not the easiest decision for me to make, but once I made up my mind I did not turn back. When confronted with the simple matter of storage space and the reality of living in a potential forest fire I concluded I had no good reason to keep over 1,000 copies of those things. 

The obvious choice was to donate as many as possible to nearby thrift shops. In years past the shops around here welcomed my donations of extra copies. 

But by 2018 even those folks didn't want them. This was evidenced by the store owners' direct comments and the fact that in one case when I did leave copies I later found them tied up and left outside the store for recycling. I don't know when the turning point in such things occurred but we have long passed a time when donating a physical collection like this to a library makes any sense.

Old paper just isn't what it used to be as a collectible, at least not in the case of "The Etude". If some sort of renaissance awaits, in which physical copies suddenly become valuable in any way, it is going to be a long time from now.

Getting rid of  so many copies  became a bit of a comedy. It seemed like any time I thought I had gotten rid of the last copies I'd find a drawer or a box stuffed with more. I found one box I had never opened, from someone who contacted me to say he wanted to gift me his set of about 40 copies. This happened not long before I had decided to stop collecting. When I finally opened the box, months later, I was utterly overwhelmed by the skunky, musty stench of old paper saturated with cigarette smoke. They stunk to high holy hell, and went straight to recycling.

I often enjoyed the occasional correspondence initiated by people looking for a certain article or piece of music from "The Etude". I came to feel like the Internet Librarian for the magazine, and even procured the very expensive indexes of all articles and music published in "The Etude" so I could more efficiently help people out. I took great satisfaction in assisting musicologists and researchers in their studies. 

Having said that I've been surprised how irritable people can get when I either don't have what they seek or when I conclude that something they thought had been published in "The Etude" was not. Just be nice, for crying out loud. 

Having collected these magazines for about 30 years I can answer with some authority what is by far the most frequently asked question here: "How much are my copies worth?" The answer, quite simply, is "Not much". Exceptions might include the very old and earliest copies, and possibly some of the "supplements". Supplements were specially printed items, such as a portrait of a famous composer or an illustration based on some sort of musical whimsy. Some of those supplements, which were very handsomely printed, could be quite beautiful. 

Still, even with the supplements you'd unlikely get more than ten bucks a piece for them. As for the magazines I bought mostly in lots of dozens of copies, and on average probably spent less than a dollar apiece. 

I don't remember how many years ago this occurred but one notable exception to the low monetary value of these magazines involved the infamous August, 1924, issue, with its blood-red cover decrying "THE JAZZ PROBLEM". That is probably the most famous cover image from "The Etude".

"The Jazz Problem" issue was up for grabs on eBay for as much as $75 for a short spell, and it actually sold at around that price. I don't remember how long that lasted but since then I've seen that issue listed in the same $5-$10 range as most others. At this writing it happens to be listed for $19.99, a bit of a premium over other copies, and probably not likely to sell any time soon.

I can only laugh at the occasional eBay listing for copies of "The Etude" where the seller prices them at astronomical amounts. I've seen single copies listed for $2,000.

At any given time you'll find hundreds of listings for umpteen thousands of copies of "The Etude" up for grabs on eBay. I lost track of the market for that magazine but in the past I'd see copies listed on eBay, unsold for years

Long story short I had some fun with this website but do not regret getting rid of all that damned paper. 

Who am I? My other web projects include Payphone Radio, Sorabji.com, the Payphone Project, Sepulchral PortraitsMy Receipts, and plenty of other things that you will find by wandering around my web sites. 

You can contact me HERE.


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