The Global Jukebox and Us

In case you missed it, the New York Times posted a fabulous article about the Alan Lomax Collection.

Lomax was the paterfamilias of American ethnomusicology and folklore. His efforts to record and classify the country’s folk and traditional music culminated in the Global Jukebox project, a vast archive of more than 17,000 free music tracks. About his methods, the Times notes:

“Looking for commonalities among musical styles from all over the world, he early on began using personal computers to help develop criteria to identify and classify such similarities, in the process creating something very much like the algorithms used today by Pandora and other music streaming services.”

He was deeply concerned with making his collection available to the communities he was documenting, and the article touches on some of the complexities inherent in the project. It’s an interesting read, and one I think we’d be remiss not to consider in light of our semester’s work.