From the new featured article, Gianni Schicchi: the relatives listen to the reading of the will of Buoso Donati (seen dead in bed)—a scene from the original Metropolitan Opera production in New York City of Puccini's last completed opera, composed 1917–18.
The Signpost asked reviewer Sven Manguard to do a round-up of the featured sound process in 2010. His report, and his choices of the highlights of the year, appear below in this week's "Features and admins".
The Signpost welcomes Grondemar (nom) as our newest admin. Grondemar joined Wikipedia just over a year ago and has some 7,000 edits, many of them on the US state of Connecticut, especially the Connecticut Huskies (the athletic teams of the University of Connecticut).
The striking yellow flower-spikes of the Banksia attuenuata, photographed in Margaret River, Western Australia
From featured list Sakharov Prize: Nelson Mandela was the inaugural winner of the Prize, together with Anatoly Marchenko.
Alexander of Lincoln (nom), a member of a very powerful Norman ecclesiastical family, who dominated the administration of King Henry I of England and was an important patron of both monastics and authors (Ealdgyth).
Banksia attenuata (nom), commonly a tree reaching 10 m high, but often a shrub in dryer areas 0.4–2.0 m high. It has long narrow serrated leaves and bright yellow inflorescences, or flower-spikes, held above the foliage, which age to grey and swell with the development of the woody follicles. The species is found across much of the southwest of Western Australia (Casliber; picture at the right).
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (nom), widely considered the Star Trek film most accessible to non-fans. Nominator David Fuchs says, "learn how Leonard Nimoy's voice became the droning of a powerful alien probe, how assistant producers make great punk rockers, and how Star Trek was *this close* to having Eddie Murphy in a starring role."
Taare Zameen Par (nom), a 2007 Bollywood drama film directed by Aamir Khan, one of the first such films to use "claymation" (Ophois).
Goldcrest (nom), a very small passerine bird in the kinglet family, with colourful golden crest feathers that give rise to its name (Jimfbleak)
New featured picture: the yellow tentacles and pink tips of the Giant Caribbean Anemone
Twelve images were promoted. Medium-sized images can be viewed by clicking on "nom":
Hard-drive head crash (nom and related article), just what ruined your day: a hard-disk failure occurs when a read–write head of a hard-disk drive comes in contact with its rotating platter, resulting in permanent and usually fatal damage to the magnetic media on the platter surface (created by Alchemist-hp).
Hafnium (nom and related article), another metallic element. There were a few comments about the photographer's red shirt; creator Alchemist-hp reflected on the difficulty of photographing an image of "1001 mirrors".
The Pulse of the Earth album cover, which nominator J Milburn persuaded the publisher to release under a free license along with the recording. The complete album is named as the FS choice of the year.
We asked featured sounds reviewer Sven Manguard to comment on the year in featured sounds, and to choose what he feels were the 2010 stand-outs. Featured sounds is a project that recognizes high quality free-use sounds that contribute to the readers' understanding or appreciation of the articles that they are in. (Featured Sounds: Listing · Criteria · Candidates)
"As the year comes to a close, I’d like to reflect on one of the less trafficked areas of featured content, featured sounds. Created by Pharos in late 2005, the featured sounds project has, by the end of 2010, promoted 156 featured sounds in 194 parts. Featured sounds has promoted a diversity of material, everything from 18th-century baroque music penned by JS Bach to a Bulgarian folk-metal song first released in 2001. In addition to musical content, featured sounds includes such historical treasures as the two 1945 speeches by US President Harry S. Truman announcing the surrenders of Germany and Japan, and a collection of phonograph cylinders from 1888 representing the earliest surviving intentional recordings of music in the world. Featured sounds also counts among its numbers a collection of field recordings of animals, and two videos.
Featured sounds has never been a highly trafficked project; however this year saw only 17 sounds promoted, a third of the previous year's promotions, and just under half of those promoted in 2008. For many candidates, fewer than five editors voiced their opinions, and often nominations were promoted with only three voters and one closer participating. Low traffic also led to instances where the process took many months. Of the 23 nominations closed this year, 11 took more than two months, with a record of just over a year for a candidate that was promoted just two weeks ago.
Despite the low number of promotions, 2010 was a year of impressive firsts. June marked the promotion of a recorded drama production of Oscar Wilde's 1892 play Lady Windermere's Fan (Acts: I · II · III · IV); this was the first promotion of a recorded drama. In August, the Hungry Lucy album Pulse of the Earth (Tracks: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10) was released under the CC-by-SA-3.0 license and was promoted. Thanks to the work of the nominator, this is the first full-length studio album among our featured sounds, in an area in which it is notoriously difficult to persuade owners to release files under free licenses. In both cases, the promoted materials marked the only known examples of the medium on Wikipedia. Few professional productions are released into the public domain, especially sound files. However, while few professional musicians have released their music into the public domain, a number of Wikipedians have done so themselves. Several promotions were recorded or performed by Wikipedians, including Jujutacular, ZooFari, and La Pianista.
So what is to become of featured sounds? Its value to Wikipedia is unchallenged, and the body of promoted material is considerable. I believe featured sounds deserves to be on the watchlist of any editor interested in producing, selecting, or judging sound recording. Featured sounds has significant potential for growth in the coming year, and I hope that 2011 will see an increase in the number of participants and submissions, and in particular more high-quality performances and recordings produced or performed by Wikipedians.
I leave you with a selection of my choices for the year:
Field recordings: Three were promoted—two of bird songs and one of a cat purring. Of the three, I chose ZooFari's recording of a Northern Mockingbird calling. The file Mimus Polyglottos impressed in both clarity and duration. I'm no ornithologist, but I still managed to pick out at least a dozen distinct calls from the recording.
Historical music recordings: Four were promoted that were in part notable for the age of the recordings themselves. It's a Long Way to Tipperary was composed in 1912, and this recording was made three years later. For a recording that is nearly a century old, the quality of this file is excellent. While I find the 1921 recording of Ride of the Valkyries that was promoted just two days before Tipperary to me much more to my taste, no other historical performance promoted this year came close to the quality of sound and encyclopedic value of Tipperary.
Contemporary music recordings: Three recordings that were produced recently were promoted in 2010. While recordings can be featured regardless of their age, the featured sound criteria for new recordings demand considerably higher quality. Of these three, one made my pick of the year, and is profiled below. The other two, a piece for the guitar by the Spanish composer Fernando Sor—Twelve Minuets - Op 11, No 2—performed by Wikipedian Jujutacular, and a piano composition by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff—Prelude in B Minor, Op. 32, No. 10—performed by Wikipedian La Pianista deserve to be recognized. Both performers demonstrate skill in their chosen arts and both recordings are both high in quality and provide high encyclopedic value. I have neither the musical knowledge and skill nor the heart to choose between them.
Choice of the year: While there were several excellent promotions this year, at the end of the day I just had to go with the Hungry Lucy album Pulse of the Earth, nominated by User:J Milburn (files on the linked page and above). Maybe it's just me, but the concept that a known and notable living artist has released an entire studio album under a free license is impressive. While I do not expect it to be so, I think it would be a wonderful thing if more artists released their work under free licenses. Of course, it goes without saying that as a professional studio album, the sound quality is top-notch."