• Building a Data Set of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Performance History

    Matthew Testa (see profile)
    Music Library Association
    Data curation, Digital humanities, Music, History
    Item Type:
    Meeting Title:
    ATMLA 2019
    Meeting Org.:
    Atlantic Chapter, Music Library Association
    Meeting Loc.:
    College Park, MD
    Meeting Date:
    2019 October 4-5
    atmla2019, Music history
    Permanent URL:
    This presentation discusses a collaboration between the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Peabody Institute's Arthur Friedheim Library, the Music Library Association's Atlantic Chapter, and the Open Music Library to create a publicly accessible data set of the BSO's performance history. This resource, now online but still in development, displays information about thousands of the orchestra’s public performances since 1967, including where and when the concerts took place, what pieces the orchestra played, and who performed as a conductor or soloist. Work on this project required a strategic approach to data normalization and many careful actions. Although project staff had access to an existing internal database of BSO performance data, refining more than 30,000 entries for consistency and usability proved to be challenging. Some fundamental questions had to be answered: What kinds of research questions would we want this data set to help answer? What fields would be most essential? What tools and techniques would be most efficient in standardizing a complex and messy data set? What could we learn from similar published data sets of other performing arts organizations? With an eye toward creating "good enough" data, we focused our attention on some of the most critical areas. This presentation will explore the materials, methods, and problems involved in the creation of this data set. It will also describe challenges for the next stages of the project and lessons learned that could be applied to similar projects.
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago


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