Mark P. Newton
Leyla S. Williams
Communications Coordinator, Center for Digital Research and Scholarship
Project Director, J-DISC; Program Officer, Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University
The Women Film Pioneers: Publishing Translational Scholarship out of the Libraries (Newton, Williams, Harvell)
The Women Film Pioneers Project (WFPP), published October 2013, is an online scholarly resource several years in development that expands on the unheralded biographies of women in the silent film industry. Initially conceived as a collection of solicited essays and profiles for publication as a multi-volume reference work with a university press, WFPP became an online-only resource published in partnership with the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS), a unit of the Columbia University Libraries/Information Services. The WFPP breaks convention for scholarly publication in a number of significant ways, particularly by setting itself up as a living resource, with content that can be both cited and augmented by its readership. Such expectations for the project have challenged its editors to think critically about translating scholarship for an online audience and have challenged the design and development team to make some difficult decisions around presentation and infrastructural support. The result of the publishing partnership has yielded an interesting case study around university library publishing and scholarship support programs, with supplementary considerations around the appetite for nontraditional publications from university faculty. The design and development choices for the project have manifested an observable positive reception to the work. An early beta release of WFPP for debut at a film studies conference ignited grassroots viral promotion over Twitter. The resultant coverage in the popular press prior to the formal project launch indicates the translational quality of the research itself and offers the project team the opportunity to reflect upon aspects of the project activities across design and marketing that led to its unique successes. This presentation will examine the processes of development in partnership to draw some inferential conclusions around potential for translational scholarship in nontraditional publishing scenarios and the unique suitability of the university library’s digital scholarship support center to act as publishing partner.
Jazz and Music Information Retrieval (Shull)
Large quantities of jazz recordings are now available and accessible in digital form, and more will come. Yet music information retrieval (MIR) has just begun to adapt its techniques to jazz and to the special challenges of documenting these improvised musical performances. This briefing will discuss a project called J-DISC that is exploring the use of MIR techniques in jazz. J-DISC has evolved from a founding mission to create an online jazz discography, which offers a large store of text data on jazz recordings, to include a new phase that uses signal processing and machine listening tools to aid that mission. By developing these computerized tools for jazz, the text annotations linked to digital recordings can be supplemented by probing, or “listening to,” the content of the musical performance itself as represented in the digital audio file. Signal processing and machine listening techniques can help provide valuable data on many common practices of improvised music, especially in the online space where industry metadata standards are low. Tasks include distinguishing among endless variations of similar repertoire; accounting for ad hoc combinations of people and instruments, personnel, and thematic material; tracking an underlying beat in subtle, complex rhythmic practices; and identifying basic structural features of a given jazz performance.
The ultimate goal of J-DISC is to link conventional jazz discographic information with the recordings it describes in the digital space, which has never been practical in the past. Possible end uses would include organizing and managing digitized archives of jazz or related improvised music, giving libraries effective means to access remote, distributed resources on these musical forms, and providing theorists or musicians with tools to access, analyze, and represent expressive features across large corpora that are difficult to capture in traditional notation or on the threshold of human perception. J-DISC is a collaboration between the Center for Jazz Studies, the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, the Computer Music Center, the Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library, and the Department of Electrical Engineering, all at Columbia University. It is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Scholarly Communications Program.