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Grants:PEG/WM UA/Kolessa recordings digitalisation/Report

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Report accepted
This report for a Project and Event grant approved in FY 2013-14 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • You may still comment on this report on its discussion page, or visit the discussion page to read the discussion about this report.
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Compliance and completion[edit]

Did you comply with the requirements specified by WMF in the grant agreement?
Answer YES or NO.
Is your project completed?
Answer YES or NO.
Did you use any of the grant funds?
Answer YES or NO.

Activities and lessons learned[edit]

This section describes what the grantee did, and what the grantee learned from implementing the project. This section should be useful to others implementing similar projects and is an opportunity for the grantee to reflect on the project's performance.


Provide a detailed list of activities performed to complete this project, descriptions of these activities, and the amount of time spent on each activity. This section should also include a list of participants, or a link to pictures, blog posts, or videos from the project or event.
Phonograph cylinders from Filaret Kolessa's collection
Surface of cylinder No. 37
Cylinder No. 50, containing female's voice likely to be Lesia Ukrainka's (although there's not enough evidence to say with certainty)
A collection of 58 phonograph cylinders dated 1904-1912[1] was transported from Lviv to Kyiv (including 2 from a museum in Stryi and 1 from Khodovychi, both in Lviv oblast) where 56 of them were digitized in the Institute of Information Registration (IIR). After that the cylinders were returned to the places they reside.
The institute provided us with 66 files representing the distinct audio tracks present on the cylinders (some cylinders contained two or three separate fragments of music), speed-adjusted to the natural pitch and processed to suppress the noise level. Additionally, they supplied the 56 files containing the unprocessed raw signal of each of the cylinders. Afterwards Iryna Dovhaliuk, Lviv University professor specializing in the history of phonograph recordings in Ukraine, investigated the files to confirm and refine the information about the individual compositions captured in the recordings, as well as information about the performer, recorder (person who operated the phonograph) and date. This information was used to prepare {{Information}} templates, vorbis-comments and filenames for each of the files.
The recordings were subsequently published on Wikimedia Commons under CC0.[2] A gallery page was created to present the recordings in English and in Ukrainian. Additionally, permission was received to upload an academic article describing the history of the recordings in great detail, and a Wikipedia article was written summarizing it. The recordings were also incorporated into several Ukrainian Wikipedia articles related to the kobzar tradition.
Yaroslav Krys'ko performing a duma on the presentation in Lviv Conservatory.
A presentation of the project's result was held on 24th of April 2014 in Lviv Conservatory. Around 30 people attended the presentation, including journalists from local (Lviv region) TV channel and newspapers. In addition to 4 speakers, namely Iryna Dovhaliuk, Ksenia Kolessa (Filaret Kolessa's granddaughter), Yarema Kolessa (present owner of the cylinders) and Yury Bulka, in the event participated a performer on an authentic bandura (which is different from the conventional instrument taught in conservatoires at present time) attended the presentation and played several compositions. Yaroslav Krys'ko is a member of Kyiv Kobzars'kyi Tsekh (literally Kobzar guild), an organization aiming to reestablish the forgotten tradition of authentic kobzar performance.
The project's results were also announced in the form of a press release and a blog post on Wikimedia Ukraine's blog. Unfortunately, the initial media coverage was less that expected (please see the #Measures of success section for details). Possible cause for this is that the unstable political situation (including the unrest in Eastern Ukraine) takes most of the attention of the media, but not entirely. I think this is also a lesson learned (it may be that for such projects, when done in countries like Ukraine, need to target professional/university/ethnology audiences as a priority and not put too much hopes on the interest of general public).
PDF of the CD booklet
We've also made 100 audio CDs (CDDA) which include 42 of the 66 total files (prioritized on the basis of historical relevance and audio quality, in order to fit on the CD as the total duration of the 66 files is nearly 2 hours). The CDs include a background information on the recordings as well as links and a QR code (printed on the disk itself) to the page at Commons.

Lessons learned[edit]

What lessons were learned that may help others succeed in similar projects? Consider the following questions and respond with 1 - 2 paragraphs.
What went well?
Mostly described in the #Activities section. The most risky part of the project was transportation of the cylinders and fortunately it went without problems, not taking into account the delay associated with the revolution in Kyiv of course.
What did not go well?
Couple of things. First, the little amount of media reaction to the project. Second, one of the cylinders that was planned to be digitized as part of the project resides in a museum in Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky, but the museum administration hesitated to allow us to take the cylinder, unlike two museums in Lviv oblast'. They finally began to negotiate with us on such possibility when the digitization was already finished and paid for. Additionally, the situation in Kyiv was dangerous and we didn't want to risk to move the cylinder to Kyiv. Because of this 1 cylinder that was in the plan wasn't digitized. However, there are also up to 10 related cylinders residing in another museum in Lviv which we and the researchers didn't have permission to digitize (and hence they weren't even included in the plan for this project). We hope that the success of digitization of Kolessa-owned 56 cylinders will help convince the administrations of the museums to allow the unique cylinders to be digitized at some point.
Another thing, a more complicated one, is the quality of the cylinders. While all of the recordings contain valuable musical information, their condition isn't very good. This doesn't mean we shouldn't have digitized them, we certainly needed to extract every possible bit of information, but for an unprepared listener the quality of a big part of the recordings may seem disappointing, although for a researcher these files are invaluable. In the same time, the quality of the cylinders is much better than a pessimistic estimation would predict for a 100 year old privately-owned cylinder collection.
What would you do differently if you planned a similar project?
A way to improve is to rethink the approach to noise reduction. While the Institute of Information Registration did significantly process the files to reduce noise levels[3] they emphasized that they were intentionally very careful with noise reduction to not remove any of the original signal while doing the processing. I.e., they explained that they don't do more aggressive noise reduction because they don't want to erase any of the original signal while reducing noise.
But in our case we published two versions of files - raw signal for each of the cylinder (with no processing at all) and the processed ones. In such scenario, where source unprocessed files are just as easily accessible as the processed ones, one could employ slightly more intense noise reduction even if the less relevant part of the signal would be lost while doing so. This would make it easier for non-specialist to comprehend the recordings.
A third alternative is to create a third set of files - with stronger noise reduction but preserving both of the available versions. This is a possible path we may take as a continuation of this project - for instance in the Education program, where we can suggest a university to facilitate a project focused on denoising such types of materials.
Anyway, this is the main field that has the potential to be improved should a similar project be implemented in future.

Project goal and measures of success[edit]

This section should reference the project goals and measures of success described in the approved grant submission. See Grants:PEG/WM UA/Kolessa recordings digitalisation to review the goals and metrics listed in the approved submission.

Project goal[edit]

Provide the project goal here.
The goal of the project was to digitize a set of wax cylinder recordings of kobzars' and lirnyks' repertoire from the beginning of 20th century and make them available under a free license at the Wikimedia Commons website as well as burn them on CD's and share these CD's with libraries of leading Ukrainian universities and conservatories.
The wax cylinder recordings were made by a prominent Ukrainian ethnologist Filaret Kolessa with help of Lesya Ukrainka, the most important woman in Ukrainian poetry and her husband, ethnologist Klyment Kvitka. The recordings are of a high historical and cultural value because the kobzar and lirnyk traditions were almost entirely liquidated by Soviet government in ninety-thirties.
Did you achieve your project goal? How do you know your goal was achieved? Please answer in 1 - 2 paragraphs.
56 cylinders were digitized, despite maximum of 54 was initially expected to be in a condition that would allow digitizing. The quality of signal is not equal between cylinders, some are better than others, but all the resulting files contain distinguishable musical content. All the recordings as well as some additional materials related to the collection (photos, a detailed academic article and a Wikipedia article) are accessible to any one on Wikimedia Commons and Ukrainian Wikipedia pages. 100 CDs with the recordings and supporting information were produced we began giving them to educational institutions (Lviv Conservatory and Lviv Franko University at the time of writing) and ethnomusicologists' community. Therefore, we think the project goal was achieved.

Measures of success[edit]

List the measures of success exactly as provided in the approved grant submission, and evaluate your project according to each measure listed there.
Number and total duration of digitized audiofiles;
Number of publications in Ukrainian press about the project;
Number of publications referring to published recordings;
Provide an overall assessment of how your project went according to these measures.
  1. Number and total duration of digitized audio files
    The total duration of the digitized audio sums up to 1 hour 53 minutes distributed over 66 individual files. Originally we didn't expect that practically all (excluding 2 broken) cylinders will be suitable for digitizing, so this is definitely a pleasant thing.
  2. Number of publications in Ukrainian press about the project
  3. Number of publications referring to published recordings
    There two parameters, as already noted above, are unexpectedly low. So far we had only 3 significant publications/appearances in general media and 1 in music-related one. There was a report on gazeta.ua, a notice on national radio, and report on local TV (Lviv Region). Additionally, a #1 Ukrainian classical music news website published our press-release. In part, this may be because of the unstable political situation in Ukraine (Crimea annexation, conflicts in Eastern Ukraine, etc.) that overlapped with the completion of our project, and, thus, took media attention away from cultural achievements. Additionally, the head of our Press Service had unexpected family circumstances which didn't allow him to work on distributing the press-release (serious health issues of his relative), and other people had to substitute him during the period. As a result we weren't able to reach out to the number of journalists we usually do, however the most important media received the press release. But also, perhaps we overestimated the interest of general public in such things as 100-year-old audio recordings, although the material is unique and historically very significant. Nevertheless, a publication in #1 magazine on classical music («Журнал Музика») is scheduled for the next issue (it's 6 issues per year). Additionally, Iryna Dovhaliuk's article summarizing the project's achievements and the recording identification results will be included in Lviv Conservatory academic journal «Українська музика» (4 issues per year). We will continue to promote this project and this kind of activity in future, and the digitized recordings available on Wikipedia pages and Wikimedia Commons will serve as an argument in support of the need of free licenses and unrestricted access to cultural heritage.
If you were to plan a similar project, would you measure it differently? If yes, please explain how.
It's hard to measure success of a project like this. Obviously, the #1 objective is to have the recordings available, accessible and free. But even in long term one can't precisely measure how much and in which ways these recordings were used by the society. Additionally, an important (possible) effect such a project is a more long-term one. We hope that this project will help convince other organizations to digitize analogous materials and put them online under free licenses/public domain in future.


This section ties this project to Wikimedia's broader goals, and shows what the project accomplished.

What impact did this project have on WMF's mission and the strategic goals? Please answer in 1 -2 paragraphs and include specific measures of impact such as the number of readers or editors reached by a particular project, or the number of articles edited or improved.
Stabilize infrastructure
Increase participation
Improve quality
Increase reach
Encourage innovation

The project was focused on making historically significant content available as free culture. For Wikipedia, it allows increasing quality of wide range of articles by adding the relevant audio recordings to them, allowing the reader to "touch" the authentic audio material. Although editing Wikipedia wasn't part of this project, we've already added the recordings to 10 most-relevant articles in Ukrainian Wikipeia, in addition to the creating the detailed gallery page on Wikimedia Commons listing all the files and some background information (both in English and in Ukrainian). Additionally, an academic article on the history of these recordings was uploaded to Commons (with an appropriate OTRS permission) which provided a notable source for a new Wikipedia article on the subject.

Reporting and documentation of expenditures[edit]

This section describes the grant's use of funds


Did you send documentation of all expenses paid with grant funds to grants at wikimedia dot org, according to the guidelines here? Answer "Yes" or "No".


Please list all project expenses in a table here, with descriptions and dates. Review the instructions here.
These expenses should be listed in the same format as the budget table in your approved submission so that anyone reading this report may be able to easily compare budgeted vs. actual expenses.
Note that variances in the project budget over 10% per expense category must be approved in advance by Project and Event Grants program staff. For all other variances, please provide an explanation in the table below.
Number Category Item description Unit Number of units Actual cost per unit Actual total Budgeted total Currency Notes
1 Digitizing Digitizing the wax cylinders by Institute of Problems of Information Registration cylinder 56 47.15 2,640.59[4] 2,700.00 USD 21 600 UAH
Initially we have anticipated 54 cylinders to be digitized, but 2 more were okay (out of 62 existing cylinders)
2 Transport Transport cylinders from Lviv to Kyiv and return car fuel for 530km (route) 4 49.63 198.53 240.00 USD 924.60 UAH, 699.38 UAH
We were able to spend less on travel expenses, as the owner decided to transport the cylinders by train. The owner was accompanying them himself both ways.
3 Transport Transport one wax cylinder from Perejaslav-Khmelnytsky and return. Bus ticket Kyiv to/from Perejaslav-Khmelnytsky (one person). 4 5[1] - 20.00 USD - UAH
One additional cylinder is stored in a museum in Perejaslav-Khmeltynskyj, but we were not able to get this cylinder to digitize
4 Transport Transport two cylinders from Stryj and one from Khodovychi (near Stryj) to L'viv and return. Train ticket Lviv to/from Stryj (one person). 1 4.28 4.28 USD 20.00 USD 35.00 UAH
Two additional cylinders are stored in Stryj and one in Khodovychi (near Stryj)
5 Identification of recordings Each digitized recording should be studied and identified as precisely as possible by ethnomusicologist who is the primary expert in the area of history of wax cylinder recordings in Ukraine and this collection in particular. per project 1 222.77 222.77 150.00 USD 1822.26 UAH
The cost of the identification of the recordings was higher (actually, it was difficult to calculate it precisely without the recordings themselves, plus four more cylinders were digitized)
6 CDs with the recordings To manufacture 100 CDs with the recordings and give them to musical educational institutions in Ukraine. per project 1 78.24 78.24 250.00 USD 290 UAH (boxes), 350 UAH (printing)
We have decided to have only 100 CDs manufactured
7 Bank fees and exchange gain/loss Exchange fees, Bank Account fees and exchange gain/loss Per project 1 57.29 57.29 40.00 USD 468.60 UAH
Total project budget (from your approved grant submission)
3420 USD
Total amount requested from WMF (from your approved grant submission, this total will be the same as the total project budget if the Project and Event Grant is your only funding source)
3420 USD
Total amount spent on this project (this total should be the total calculated from the table above)
3201.70 USD
Total amount of Project and Event grant funds spent on this project (this total will be the same as the total amount spent if the Project and Event Grant is your only funding source)
3197.42 USD
Are there additional sources of revenue that funded any part of this project? List them here.
Transportation expenses for Stryj-Lviv-Stryj were covered by volunteers.

Remaining funds[edit]

Are there any grant funds remaining?
Answer YES or NO.
Please list the total amount (specify currency) remaining here. (This is the amount you did not use, or the amount you still have after completing your grant.)
222.58 USD
If funds are remaining they must be returned to WMF, reallocated to mission-aligned activities, or applied to another approved grant.
Please state here if you intend to return unused funds to WMF, submit a request for reallocation, or submit a new grant request, and then follow the instructions on your approved grant submission.
We would like to request the remaining funds to be applied to our already approved 2014 grant.


  1. Kobzar repertoire is present on 63 files from cylinders between 1904 and 1910, therefore on the CD we included only recordings from this date range with exception of one file containing a folk melody sung by Filaret Kolessa himself in 1912.
  2. Since the digitization involved editing the files to suppress the noise level and to achieve natural pitch-speed, we explicitly stated CC0 as a condition in the agreement signed between WMUA and IIR.
  3. One can compare the raw signal and the corresponding processed recordings by comparing files in these two categories: commons:Category:Audio files of Filaret Kolessa phonograph cylinder collection and commons:Category:Unprocessed audio files of Filaret Kolessa phonograph cylinder collection‎.
  4. Exchange rate is 8.18 UAH for 1 USD