Seizing the Moment:
Jazz Discography and Digital Communications
Editor, Jazz Studies Online
The history of jazz resonates in its recordings: they capture the act of musical creation in real time. A huge body of reference works on jazz recordings, the product of seventy years’ labor by jazz discographers, in turn documents this legacy of improvised performance. The discographies now present the field of jazz studies with an untapped source of knowledge about jazz history.
The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has begun to design and test a Web-based database application that can preserve, enhance, and provide public access to this store of data on jazz recordings. The application, J-DISC, will become available on Jazz Studies Online, an open access Web site managed by the Center, by May 2012. J-DISC will enable researchers, educators, and students to mine a wealth of existing and new data for insights on improvisation, artists’ careers, changes in jazz styles, the recording industry, and many other topics. The database application will also be collaborative, to an extent never possible in print or offline jazz discographies. It will allow discographic experts to edit and comment on the data and its sources, share new information as it becomes available, and exchange ideas about related research issues. Leading representatives from the field are now collaborating with the Center on the design of the editorial functions of J-DISC.
This project briefing will include a discussion of the challenges in documenting this fluid, evanescent art form with the accuracy it deserves, and the potential for collaborative editorship and supporting technology to achieve the required precision and scholarly credibility.
Handout (MS Word)