Musical geo locations

As a possible entry point for mHashup, a multi-layered interface allows for query triggers from a geographical plane located at a level below the similarity interface. The inspiration for this interface were a set of ethnomusicological recordings of world music compiled by Alan Lomax as part of the Cantometrics project. The nature of the recordings suggested a search by geo-location. The layering of geo-positioning and similarity matching enabled the discovery of interesting anthropological and ethnomusicological relationships.

The Lomax recordings can be sampled at their geo-locations before a query is triggered. They are represented by simple, colour-coded symbols relative to the annotation: male or female singer, solo or group, vocal or instrumental, predominately based on the work of Polina Proutskova. Global positioning of the individual symbols was done manually, in absence of any geographical coordinates in Lomax's original annotation. This occasionally presented a problem: some of the countries and people's names have since changed, and some locations belong to a different country than they did in Lomax's time. We have tried to keep faithful to the original descriptions as much as possible, though cannot guarantee absolute accuracy.

On query launch, the recorded sample is matched to other Lomax recordings around the globe and brought to view in the mHashup similarity interface. The similarity interface and the geographical interface create layers which can be independently reduced in size or enlarged as required. The matched recordings can be sampled individually, with a highlighting device tracking the query trajectory from one part of the globe to another and creating a web of pathways indicating relationships between cultures in distant locations of the globe.

The geo interface was first presented at Unlocking Audio, British Library. London, March 2009.

Content courtesy of Alan Lomax and the Cantometrics project.

With thanks to Polina ProutskovaTim CrawfordBen Fields and the OMRAS2 group.

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