I have listed below some examples of research questions that the current live, text-only version of J-DISC can help answer.
Yes, current discographic sources in print or online can help yield answers to these questions. The same answers could be found, however, using J-DISC in one or two queries, and would be automatically counted.
I invite you, then, to simply read these sample text queries, then to imagine if all the recordings themselves they refer to were available, accessible, and amenable to classifiers and/or visualizations . . .
Use case examples
In “Advanced Search” in J-DISC, find:
- All female composers whose works were recorded by other jazz artists during the first half of the 20th century.
- The full corpus of recordings by musicians from Detroit from 1945-1950, as they absorbed the innovations of the bebop (modern jazz) revolution emanating from New York after 1941.
- Every instance of a single song by artists defined as “New Orleans Ragtime,” (e.g., “Panama”) allowing the exploration of common elements and individual creative statements within that single canonical repertory item.
- The total number of recordings an artist did in Kansas City, versus number she recorded after she moved to New York.
- The number of tenor saxophonists who recorded “Body & Soul” between 1939, the year of Coleman Hawkins’ hit, indicating when and how this song became a canonical showpiece for tenor saxophonists (or, to do so relative to its popularity among performers on all other jazz solo instruments).
- Latin Jazz activity in New York in 1943-46 (through a genre + venue location search) supporting research on ties between the development of modern jazz and Latin jazz as a branch of or parallel to it.
- All recordings of “Love for Sale” from its premiere in 1930 to 1975, suggesting (i.e., quantifying) the extent to which it became a canonical vehicle for improvisation.
- The number of recordings in Kansas City for each year from 1925 to 1941, compared with those made by musicians from Kansas City in studios outside the city, supporting research on the dissemination of the “Kansas City sound.”
- All of Charlie Parker recordings of How High the Moon/ Ornithology, supporting research on his approach to the song. [Consider as well how signal processing techniques could enhance this kind of “vertical study”, as we have long realized, though there are major methodological problems to tackle in comparing files with nominally the same performer or chord sequence.]
- All recordings of “Groovin’ High” from 1945 to 1960, supporting detailed research and substantial evidence on the influence of its composer Dizzy Gillespie.
- All jazz recordings made in Czechoslovakia from 1956 to 1973, allowing an in depth study of the music as a vehicle of political expression—and object of repression. (As a research agenda, I don’t think this is too fanciful or farfetched, if carefully defined and operationalized.)