Chile: Digitization & Access

Documents Produced and Preserved by the University of Chile and Their Pertinence to Musical Education and Research: A Case Study

By Francisco Miranda Fuentes, Professor of the Audiovisual Archives Restoration and Conservation Workshop, Head of the Audiovisual Restoration Laboratory


Article Index

Documents Produced and Preserved by the University of Chile and Their Pertinence to Musical Education and Research: A Case Study

General Backgroud

Challenges and Issues


Digitization Activities

Conclusions, Bibliography, Notes

Audio Gallery

All Pages


CHALLENGES: How to create a centralized preservation management system for a dispersed and endangered audio collection of great national and regional significance within a University? Where to begin? How to promote wider access without violating intellectual property rights or without impinging on the primary use of the collection i.e., research?

STRATEGIES: Create an interdisciplinary in-house team for research, documentation, cataloging, restoration and digitization of collections;  Through teamwork develop new administrative and management structures serving all users; Study and adapt existing international and national legislations on intellectual property rights to your specific institutional context; Train staff and tap into guidelines for preservation and access prescribed by international professional associations.

College of Arts, University of Chile

Since 1948, the Music and Sound Science department of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Chile has produced many hours of audio and video recordings, primarily for internal consumption. Included among these are audio recordings of festivals of contemporary Chilean music, radio programming, concerts, student recordings, and special lectures by national and international visiting professors.

As a result of this large output of materials, there arose the need to create a centralized management of the audiovisual collections, which are administered by the Music department. The role of the Department is thus to oversee the correct usage of the recordings as well as their conservation, therefore ensuing the protection of both the University’s copyright as well as any participating musician’s corresponding authorial rights. Finally, it is also responsible for coordinating the design of a platform through internal networks to ensure public access.


Thanks to the initial support from famous figures in the musical world, such as Alfonso Letelier, Eugenio Pereira Salas and Carlos Isamitt, the venerable School of Fine Arts was able to establish, with University Decree number 295, the Research Institute of Musical Folklore, which in turn became the folklore department of the new Research Institute of Music by University Decree number 2171 on March 18th, 1947. From this point on, the large amount of documentation produced has created an important university and academic archive2, comprised of audio recordings in diverse mechanical formats, such as instantaneous discs, 78’s, magnetic ¼-inch reels, audiocassettes, and digital formats. The archive has enhanced many specialized publications, such as Chilean Musical Magazine, which is published by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Chile. These publications have created a national musical patrimony by virtue of the high quality implied by the fact that our institution is a State University. It is undeniable that musical creation and research in Chile depends on the Musicology Section of our Music Department in the Faculty of Arts.

Over time, the academic body, recognizing the importance of having recordings of the music of Chilean composers available for consultation, planned actions that led to the reevaluation and subsequent accessibility of all of the historical recordings. Thanks to the initiative of the Dean of the College of Arts, Luis Merino Montero, and of Carlos Riesco, at that time the President of the Academy of Fine Arts of the Chilean Institute, the Laboratory of Sound Restoration was created during the 1990s and was later integrated with the Technological Center of the Music Department.

Although the collections are physically dispersed in a variety of units within the Faculty, a central office now controls their administration. The purpose of these initiatives was, from the beginning, to satisfy the demands of teaching and to aid in the creation and development of projects generated by academics in our university.


The very recognition that audiovisual aids are more than what they seem to be at first glance has promoted a new approach to research. They are not just serial objects of industrial production, but rather also objects that contain contents expressed by symbolic languages. They are meaningful material testimonies of a human activity in which artistic creativity and technical inventiveness have been the only tools used.

This recognition invites us to reflect on the need to reformulate a conceptual framework, which permits their inclusion and their protection.

When we speak of protection, we refer in the first instance to their physical protection, which permits the passing of their contents to current and future generations; and secondly, in a legal sense, to placing them under the same legal custody and protection which all of the objects that form our Cultural Patrimony currently have.

2.1 Audiovisual cultural heritage is comprised of, without being limited by, the following3:

  • Audio recordings, radio broadcasts, film, television and video recordings, and any other production that includes moving images and/or audio recordings, whether they’re destined or not for public transmission;
  • Ancillary materials, be they works or immaterial elements related to the audiovisual medium, regardless of whether they are technical, industrial, cultural, historical or other. In addition, it encompasses elements related to the film industry, broadcast communications, and recording industry. This includes publications, scripts, posters, publicity materials, manuscripts and various other creations such as costumes and technical apparatus.

2.2 An audiovisual archive is an organization, or a department within an organization that is dedicated to the acquisition, management and preservation of a collection of audiovisual media, and facilitates access of these materials to the public.

2.3 Copyright is protected in all its manifestations through both national and international legal order.

2.4 Thus there are international conventions that protect intellectual and industrial property in all of their diverse forms (1946 Inter-American Convention signed in Washington; the 1952 Universal Convention on literary, scientific and artistic Intellectual Property signed in Geneva.)

2.5 UNESCO, through its document “Recommendation on Safeguarding Traditional and Popular Culture,” adopted by the General Conference at its twenty fifth session in Paris on November 15th, 1989, states:

“In so far as folklore constitutes manifestations of intellectual creativity whether it be individual or collective, it deserves to be protected in a manner analogous to the protection provided for intellectual productions. Such protection of folklore has become indispensable as a means of promoting further development, maintenance and dissemination of those expressions, – both within and outside the country, without prejudice to related legitimate interests. Leaving aside the `intellectual property aspects’ of the protection of expressions of folklore, there are various categories of rights which are already protected and should continue’ to enjoy protection in the future in folklore documentation centers and archives. To this end, Member States should:

(a) Regarding the ‘intellectual property’ aspects – call the attention of relevant authorities to the important work of UNESCO and WIPO in relation to intellectual property, while recognizing that this work relates to only one aspect of folklore protection and that the need for separate action in a range of areas to safeguard folklore is urgent;

(b) Regarding the other rights involved:

(i) Protect the informant as the transmitter of tradition (protection of privacy and confidentiality);

(ii) Protect the interest of the collectors by ensuring that the materials gathered are conserved in archives in good condition and in a methodical manner;

(iii) Adopt the necessary measures to safeguard the materials gathered against misuse, whether intentional or otherwise;

(iv) Recognize the responsibility of archives to monitor the use made of the materials gathered.”

2.6 It should be pointed out that Chile is a member of the United Nations and therefore any agreements and recommendations that arise out of the UNESCO are considered to have a binding nature.

2.7 National legal order through the Constitution of Chile protect copyright and intellectual property as stated in article 10 Nº 24 and Nº 25; decrees Nº 74 and Nº 75; Law Nº 19039; superior decree Nº 177 and other current statutes (law 17336).

3 The Audiovisual Collections of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Chile: Initial Challenges and Issues

The following points were identified as challenges to the ongoing management, preservation and access of audiovisual collections at the University:

The sound/audiovisual collections lacked an administrative structure/organization. The production of audiovisual material is currently dispersed in a variety of units within the Faculty, and their administration was not controlled by a unifying central office. The chart below outlines the distribution of administrative control over audiovisual collections:

There was a lack of leadership in matters pertaining to the administration of the audiovisual collections.

  • There was a lack of coordinating efforts in the actions pertaining to the use of recordings that belong to the various existing collections.
  • There was an absence of regulations to order the distribution/circulation of recordings within the University and from the University out to the community, which in turn generated a negative internal and external image of services provided and consequently of the University by extension.
  • A computer upgrade was needed to allow for the digitization of sound recordings.
  • There was a notable lack and need for precision playback and reproduction equipment for vinyl records and particularly for 78 rpm records (with their respective playback needles).
  • There was a need/lack of a budget for the acquisition of necessary supplies for the digitization of “colecciones patrimoniales” (national heritage collections). These include CD-R (compact disc-recordable) backup discs and supplies for cleaning and reconditioning, such as requisite chemicals for use in the cleaning of magnetic tapes and 78 rpm discs which are contaminated with mold and bacteria that act as degrading agents to the sound media.
  • There was a need to create a multidisciplinary team with expertise in the restoration and documentation of audiovisual materials/archives who can take charge of carrying out support activities with respect to: digitization, cataloging, reconditioning, cleaning of media such as discs or magnetic tapes in a poor state of conservation. This team would include sound engineering students for the technical work/tasks and music students for musical cataloging and documentation of the content.



We proposed the establishment of a Documentation Centre as a way of creating an effective organizational structure for a modern audiovisual archives, having determined that the former administrative organization lacked a coherent structure and showed an absence of leadership due to the inexistence of coordination of actions related to the use of recordings from the different collections and the absence of norms to organize the flow of recordings within the college and/or department and from there out to the community.

We therefore proposed the creation of a multidisciplinary team specialized in matters of restoration, documentation and archiving of heritage sound materials who would be in charge of carrying out activities in the following areas: digitization, cataloging, conditioning and cleaning of media such as discs and magnetic tapes in a poor state of conservation. Students from the audio programs have been of vital assistance for carrying out the technical aspects of the work involved, as have been the students from the music programs for cataloging and musical documentation. We proposed to establish a system of at least two work groups for the digitalization of audio-materials that would permit the participation of students in the support tasks required prior to digitalization, who would have received necessary previous training in the restoration laboratory under my supervision. As background I should mention that during 2003, there was a specialized elective course entitled “Workshop on Conservation and Restoration of Audiovisual Archives”, with the participation of four students from the curricula of Master’s Degree in Musicology and from the Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory and Sound, whose overall objective was to introduce students to the theory and practice of management of audiovisual archives through personalized practical and theoretical course work.

The team proposed a reorganization that would allow the Library to administer the task of cataloging the collections. All of the digitized and processed recordings would be included in the Library’s online search system so as to allow their future consultation in an area specifically set-up for that purpose called the Mediateca.

In the face of these new challenges that were envisaged with respect to the activities of the Library, the restoration laboratory and the Mediateca and their functions within the Sound and Music Department, we foresaw the necessity of adequately planning the activities that in the future will be associated with the administration of these units and with the use of the digital artifacts that they would produce. However, even though the administration of audiovisual collections obliges us to observe simultaneously both the technical and administrative aspects inherent to this activity, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that everything related to cultural heritage materials and in particular everything related to audiovisual materials is protected both under national as well as international legislation. National laws, provided under Chile’s Political Constitution in Article 10 Nº 24 y Nº25, as well as the national decrees Nº74 and Nº75, ordinance Nº19.039, the supreme decree No. 177 and other current legislation, protect the rights of authorship and intellectual property (Ley 17336). It’s important to point out that Chile is a member of the United Nations Organization and in consequence subject to the dispositions and recommendations established in this respect by UNESCO, which are considered to have a binding nature.

For this reason, it was imperative to establish congruence between the internal procedures of the Faculty of Arts and the spirit of the established legislation, in order to safeguard the rights of the composers, performers, “cultores”, informants and compilers of sound recordings and at the same time, once and for all recognize the rights of the University itself (in its double role both as producer of this cultural legacy and, at the same time, as a legitimate repository that will guarantee its preservation for future generations). It was with this in mind that the protocol for services and distribution of audiovisual materials was established. This is directed towards the university community as well as the general public and establishes in clear and precise terms, which are the responsible entities for registry, compilation and administration of these documentary archives.



It was determined that a structure called a “Mediateca” should be created, whose function should have a relationship with the activities of the Music Department and which should also have administrative and academic linkages with other areas of the Faculty, thus creating a mesh of persons designated by the Department of Music who are capable of dictating the action policies in the management of the archive from now on. In this manner, the contents processed in the sound Restoration laboratory can be consulted through an online information network, leaving the responsibility of cataloging and managing metadata to the Library.

Listening Room


Functioning of the Restoration Laboratory:

Signal Extraction
(audiovisual media) (extraction of information and digitization) (digital object)


Digitization Process of Sound
(sound material) (audio) (sound digitization process) (.wav) (digitized file)

5.1 Digitization Workflow

The audiovisual media are containers for information that require a translation or extraction of the signal in order to be played back. The information contained on the media are digitized according to standard technical procedures developed through the integration of technical and artistic knowledge with the goal of respecting artistic criteria using an objective method that can handle external information to the recording and perform a proper identification of defects in the registry.

The audio document is digitized into high quality audio uncompressed files in accordance to the TC-04 protocol of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA). From these, lower resolution files are generated that require less space for storage and bandwidth for streaming, and thus can to be placed on the audio server for public access.

Types of Audio Files
(uncompressed files) (compressed files)


These two types of files serve different purposes. Professional audio work requires high-quality digital audio files that are uncompressed, or what are called linear files. One of these formats is WAV (Waveform Audio Format). However, for remote consultation it is necessary to use compressed audio files, which are of lower quality audio, but whose files are smaller and allow the optimization of space available for them in the servers, and can be streamed quickly.

5.2 Central Library services platform

Network Platform
(Mediateca) (Cataloging Area) (Server) (Library) (Laboratory)

The intranet network that is currently in operation distributes electronic data files and compressed audio formats to users. The file management system performs inspection and maintenance to ensure that the digital information stored remains uncorrupted. Figure 4 shows the model for remote consultation that was implemented with the assistance of the Library, which has terminals for consultation of audio materials by students, teachers and the general public.

After the creation of digital content, a system is implemented where files compressed in high quality Ogg and MP3 formats are stored on a server located in the Technology Center, which is connected to the restoration laboratory via intranet and also to the Mediateca. This is in turn interconnected to the SISIB system (Central Library Services), which provides the network service that allows use of the library searches through the Catalogo Bello. The user receives the audio he requested and it is retrieved from the Technology Center Server. After being extracted, it is sent to the University network and then routed to the PC in the Mediathek listening room. There are currently 24,000 digitized audio items available for consultation.

5.3 Network platform

The functioning of the system is based on a local server, which is placed in the Mediateca that houses various audiovisual media.  The server stores audio files compressed as prescribed. Through SMB/CFIS4 this system can provide audio files to users. The access to the catalogue is made through the University Search engine called Catalogo Bello, from which the users are given the correct link to the searched audio files, made possible through an internal network.

In parallel, a search system through the JINZORA interface has been implemented to give access to the exclusive information solely for the Faculty of Music. In a later phase, the required changes will be made to provide the same service through the HTML protocol and therefore, take advantage of the existing open source software for managing the Mediateca.

Server Configuration: 

Currently the server is on UBUNTU Linux 8.04 LTS.

The following Services are Installed and Configured:

  • SAMBA (SMB/CIFS) server
  • SSH server (access for remote administration)
  • JINZORA: A software programme which allows the creation of a catalogue for consultation and alternative services for a local group users.

Once the installation of the operating system and SMB/CIFS was completed, user accounts were then authorized to allow the content administrator and his assistant to begin the task of entering the audio files in the new server.

All the operations were made by Mario Enclada , in charge of the Mediateca network.


Our digitization work was carried out on the collection of traditional music produced and currently kept in various departments in the University of Chile. The design, planning and execution of the technical project was carried out in the Sound Restoration Laboratory of the University of Chile Faculty of Arts. This true rescue process was designed as an activity that must meet two ends: first, it should establish and communicate the significance and values of the collection, comprised principally of ¼-inch magnetic tapes; secondly, it should permanently integrate a collection preservation plan.  This plan began with the digitization of the contents and labeling of the boxes and graphic documents associated with the recordings, which could provide information to future users and researchers.

Over the past three years over 140 radio programs have been conducted for our University’s Radio, which have enabled us to disseminate to the community the activities of the Department of Music and the Sound Archive. This has facilitated the recovery and the selective digitization of a large number of Historic recordings.

Because of the complexity of the operations that had to be carried out and as a way of minimizing operational errors as much as possible, the activities were ordered in the following way:

ACTIVITY 1 – Design the work plan: We decided to use 3 workstations and a mini-server in a mono-operating modality, two of the workstations for audio digitization and one for digitizing images and for the administration of contents in the process of digitization via the internal network. The process took into account the need for a preliminary restoration or conditioning of the tapes to be digitized, according to the particular situations encountered. For this, the necessary tools for cleaning, repairing and conditioning defective tapes were available.

ACTIVITY 2 – Design the electro-acoustic sequence for the digitization process: We implemented a two system technique for digitizing on two computers, both with an M audio sound card, an increase in RAM memory and two 160 Gigabyte hard disks. The reproduction tape recorder OTARI MX 50, with a ¼-inch reel-to-reel format, was repaired. Digital information flow lines from the digital content generation computers to the mini server were designed.

ACTIVITY 3 – Choose the analog and digital platforms for evaluating audio materials: Adobe Audition 1.5, Audition 2.0 and Wave lab 5.0a were selected.

ACTIVITY 4 – Search for and select appropriate recorders to reproduce the formats found on the magnetic tapes: Because the previously described magnetic tapes were recorded at various speeds and on different recorders, many of the magnetic tapes could not be digitized without first determining the specific recording format. Thus it was necessary to use various recorders that could fulfill reproduction requirements. For this, the following recorders were used: Otari Mx 50, Revox PR 99 and the Akai M-87 4-track recorder.

ACTIVITY 5 – Implementation of an internal network to minimize work times: Implementation of an internal mini-net located in the laboratory, which connects the work units with the mini server that serves as a warehouse for storing digital content. The connection Switch was implemented.

ACTIVITY 6 – Begin the sound and image digitization: Digitization began with the following criteria: sampling frequency 96 Khz and resolution 24 bits (or 32 floating bits, in some cases) to generate the digital masters. For work copies: 44.1 Khz and 16 bits.

The images were digitized with a Canon N 340p scanner. The selected format was JPG. Image contents were digitized to a resolution of 150 DPI, color or grey scale as the case warranted.

ACTIVITY 7 – Administration of the contents: Content administration was carried out by remote monitoring from the administrator’s computer to the mini-server. Each of the files is stored in a differentiated folder; high-resolution audio was stored apart from the low-resolution audio, and likewise for image contents. All processes were monitored by means of route sheets that indicated the progress of the operator. Also, technical fiches were set up for each operation, which identify the operator and the process carried out.

ACTIVITY 8 – Digital backups to DVD: Saving two copies per folder in DVD format with the following digital content folders:

  • Cover sheet
  • Contents
  • Work copy 44.1 khz/16 bits
  • Technical fiche
  • Digital Master
  • Ogg

ACTIVITY 9 – Generation of documentation:
 An Excel table was made detailing the digitized contents according to the operator, machine and specific contents.


The following have goals have been accomplished thus far:

  • Digitization of approximately 245 items.
  • IASA TC-04 used as the norm for digitization of patrimonial content.
  • Digitization of the documental and graphic contents of materials annexed to the magnetic tapes.
  • Design of operation protocols replicable in other projects of massive digitization of audio contents.
  • Insurance of safe storage for the supporting material that makes up the archive.
  • Detection of new problems in the field of audio signal restoration.
  • Generation of two DVD copies for each digitized tape.
  • Implementation of a mini-network of internal communication, which allows for a faster workflow.


After having taken the steps necessary to achieve the technical objectives set forth at the beginning of the Project, it is important to do a critical revision to determine the real operation costs involved in an activity like this one. The process of digitizing audio contents showed a larger number of hours put in than what was effectively paid for, and taking into account the steps described earlier, it follows that the calculation of the man-hour-machine value is wrong, so that the amount paid to qualified operators was insufficient.

It is possible to optimize operation time with an appropriate selection of the contents to digitize. This means that it is possible to replicate the digitization speed as long as the contents to be processed are clearly determined beforehand. An appendix is included here in which the main details of the processed tapes are identified.

In conclusion, I have to say that I am very satisfied with the final work and there is no more to say except to congratulate the work team that thought up and executed this project: thanks to all of you.

The very recognition that audiovisual materials are more than what they appear to be at first sight ought to produce a new way of looking at this area of research. These aids are not only serial objects of industrial production but also objects that possess in their materiality contents expressed in symbolic languages. Such contents are significant as material testimony of a human activity. This invites us to reflect on the necessity of reformulating a conceptual framework that permits their inclusion and protection.

When I speak of inclusion, I mean that audiovisual materials should be considered as a constituent part of our collective cultural heritage, recognizing their quality as cultural property.

When I speak of protection, I refer in the first instance to physical protection, which permits their contents to be transmitted to present and future generations; and, secondly, I refer to insuring that they are subject to the same legal custody, which all objects that conform to our cultural heritage currently benefit from. In this way, the Music Department of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Chile advances towards the creation of a real University and academic audiovisual archive specialized in documents related to Music, which is dedicated to their collection, processing, management and preservation, thus assuring access to their contents via informatics systems for remote consultations and also assuring discographic editions for the general public.6

Clear criteria must be implemented allowing an active, agile response to requests for copies for private, educational and perhaps even commercial use. This can only come about through a coherent application of the norms of the University of Chile with respect to the administration of cultural heritage.

The majority of the forms designed to help regulate access are inadequate for conservation purposes. Thus, because of the costs associated with capturing information and later with its processing, this process is abandoned by archives and libraries, to be outsourced to private enterprises. Information is becoming more and more complex and training costs for a work team rise year by year, and we shouldn’t forget that the selection of materials and their historical context, in order to later digitize them and include appropriate metadata, are also rising in cost.


1. Danneman, R. Manuel

2. Edmondson section 1.3.6

3. Edmondson section 3.3.1

4. Standard service for sharing files from MS Windows based systems

5. This is a joint Project between the School of Arts and the Ministry of Education. This project has been prepared by Mariana León and Ignacio Ramos, who are students in the College of Anthropology and the College of History, respectively, and includes the participation of Rodrigo Torres, Jorge Véliz ,Alex Geel y Mario Encalada.

6. Edmondson, 2004


BRADLEY Kevin, ed. IASA-TC 04: Standards, Recommended Practices and Strategies. South Africa, International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) Technical Committee, 2004, p. 80.

EDMONDSON, Ray. “Audiovisual Archiving: Philosophy and Principles.” París: UNESCO, 2004  [Accessed: March 2009]

DANNEMANN R., Manuel; Veinte años del Instituto de Investigaciones Musicales. Revista Musical Chilena, abr-jun 1967, no.100, p.39-41.

“Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore” UNESCO, París, 16 November 1989.   [Accessed: March 2009]





The audio files below were digitized at the University of Chile in 2006. The original recording was on 1/4″ open reel, recorded at 7 1/2″ inches/second, with two tracks, Soundcraft brand. It was in good condition at the time of transfer.

The transfer was made using Adobe Audition 2.0 software, with a sampling rate of 96 KHz and 24 bit resolution.

The original recording was made in 1947. The contents include rythms, cuecas (Chilean traditional dance), polkas, and entonaciones de verso (verses) performed on a Guitarrón (a 25 string instrument from Chile).



El Carretero

Cantando a lo divino

Cueca antigua


Cueca Corta


El Carretero

Canto a lo divino

Cueca antigua


Cueca corta


El Carretero

Canto a lo divino

Canto a lo divino

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