Linked Jazz- Exploring Archives Through Linked Open Data

Linked Jazz is an initiative spearheaded by Director Prof. Cristina Pattuelli at the Pratt Institute School of Library Information Science. The project is primarily based in History and Jazz fields of academia, and the objective of the project is to shed light on relationships between Jazz musicians. To do so, they utilize transcripts of interviews from musicians to sift out names of other musicians that played with or are somehow related to the musician speaking.

One of the main steps in this project was compiling these oral history transcripts. The database consisted of over 50 transcripts from the Hamilton College Jazz ArchiveRutgers Institute for Jazz Studies Archives, Smithsonian Jazz Oral Histories, UCLA’s Central Avenue Sounds Series, and the University of Michigan’s Nathaniel C. Standifer Video Archive of Oral History.

Example of an Oral History Transcript with the Linked Jazz software applied to find musicians’ names and record their relationship to the interviewee.

The project has two main deliverables from processing the database to find relationships: these are (1) a network visualization tool, and (2) the Linked Jazz 52nd Street. The network visualization tool is just like the co-retweet network for the DH community that we looked at in class last Tuesday, but the nodes are musicians and the edges are relationships. The Linked Jazz 52nd Street is a much more robust tool for users as it allows users to select a specific musician, view a particular transcript they were mentioned in or spoke in, and view relationships with other musicians just at the network visual does.

Linked Jazz network tool.
Linked Jazz 52nd Street tool.

While examining these tools, I became curious about the color scheme of the network visualization. The colors seem to be assigned to distinct to a musician, but this is not always the case. For example, most nodes connected to Louie Bellson are orange, but there is a purple edge connected to Oscar Peterson and blue edges connected to Dave Brubeck, Roy Haynes, and Buddy Defranco. I hypothesize these are indicators of the type of relationships, but it is not immediately obvious. The distinction of colors attract the viewers attention right away so it would make sense for there to be an clear key indicating what the colors represent.


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