Digital Humanities in Music



Thursday, September 18, 2014 -
4:00pm to 5:15pm


About This Session

The following panel will provide multiple perspectives on digital humanities' place in music libraries, and in music research in general. Anna Kijas will discuss publishing and data visualization models which have enhanced her research on the Venezuelan pianist Teresa Carreño. Andrew Justice will discuss the challenges of ensuring that sound quality is not sacrificed amid competing goods of speed and portability in sound recordings, and Maristella Feustle will discuss the use of very large aggregators of data to find very small pieces of a biographical puzzle through her research on composer Charles B. Ward.

Individual papers:

Anna Kijas, University of Connecticut:

Several years ago, I began researching the career of Teresa Carreño (1853-1917), a Venezuelan pianist and composer, with the goal of publishing a print bio-bibliography. Due to the overwhelming amount of materials, as well as their geographic dispersal, I soon realized that documenting her over fifty year long career would require that I explore publishing models, other than, or in addition to, print, which could provide greater flexibility and accessibility, as well as promote collaboration with scholars, students, and the public through means such as crowd-sourcing transcriptions. 
In this presentation, I will discuss several of the platforms and tools explored (ViewShare, Omeka, and WordPress), their possible uses, and reasons behind my choice to use the open-source web-publishing platform Omeka and geo-spatial tools (ArcGIS, Neatline), which will help my project come to life. While my goal is to document a representative number of Carreño's key performances from 1862 to 1917, as of today, I have begun to curate information from primary source materials, as well as spatially and temporally explore Carreño's performances and concert destinations with a focus on the United States. 
Additionally, I will discuss my collaboration with staff in various departments, including Archives, ITS, Map and Geographic Information Center, as well as other digital humanists and technologists using these tools. Using my own project as an example, I hope this presentation can provide a basic understanding of several types of platforms or tools, with a focus on Omeka, as well as their possible application and uses in music research and scholarship.

Andrew Justice, University of North Texas; So Many Bits, It Hertz: Digital Recordings & Sound Quality

In this presentation, the world of digital recordings and sound quality will be explored: the histories and attributes of digital sound platforms (Compact Discs, digital tape and various file formats) will be discussed, along with side-by-side comparisons of different ‘major’ formats to consider the listener’s experience.  Special attention will be paid to compression and the recent movement toward high definition formats, including Neil Young’s recently-unveiled Pono music player and store.  The goal of the presentation will be to enhance attendees’ understanding of the various issues at play in the current climate of sound recordings and how they relate to librarians' work with collections and patrons’ usage, as well as afford us the opportunity to test our own listening skills.

Maristella Feustle, University of North Texas

Charles B. Ward (1864-1917) was a composer and vaudeville performer who is mainly remembered today for two tunes: "The Band Played On," and to a lesser extent, "Strike Up the Band, Here Comes a Sailor" (not to be confused with Irving Berlin's "Strike Up the Band"). Attempts in the fall of 2010 to write a brief biography of Ward for the Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd ed., initially became a circular tour through the same scant information in multiple sources. The fact that Ward shared the same name with a congressman from New York further complicated the search.
Reconstructing a biography of Ward, even to suffice for the brief encyclopedia entry, would have been virtually impossible in the five-month time span due to costs of time and travel, and knowing where to look first. Three digital resources were indispensable in piecing together his story, and only one of those was expressly musical. Those resources were Family Search, Google Historical Newspapers, and the New York Public Library's digital sheet music collection.

Massive aggregations of resources offered a large enough haystack to contain some improbable “needles.” The accumulation of documents which are of little import by themselves collectively tell the story of one man's life via "Big Data," culled through "armchair forensics" at a laptop in Denton, Texas. This presentation will include the biography of Ward that this research made possible,  and discuss further implications for biography and musical reception history through resources originally created with different purposes in mind.


Sara Outhier

Sara Outhier is the Music Librarian for Digital and Audio Services at the University of North Texas. She is responsible for overseeing digital and audio projects for the Music Library. Digital project responsibilities include identifying potential projects and project planning and design.

More Info.


Maristella Feustle

Maristella Feustle is the Music Special Collections Librarian at the University of North Texas. A native of Toledo, Ohio, she holds master's degrees in jazz guitar and library science from UNT, and remains active as a guitarist in addition to her work as a librarian.

More Info.

Andrew Justice

Andrew Justice works as Associate Head Music Librarian at the University of North Texas, where he manages an estimated one million sound recordings and oversees digitization efforts for one of the largest academic music collections in North America.  He is also a professional Baroque violist, performing with early music ensembles around the state in addition to being a founding member of string

More Info.

Anna Kijas

Anna Kijas is the Music and Dramatic Arts librarian and coordinator for the Scholars' Collaborative, for which she provides consultations and outreach services, as well as teaches and leads workshops and events in various areas of digital scholarship at the University of Connecticut.

More Info.