Why is mapping the music of 1920’s Paris relevant to modern research and individuals? Because through showing the geographical influence, we can help students, researchers, teachers, and the general public to imagine what it might have been like to live in 1920’s Paris given the social networks, international influence, and lives of those included in our maps. Additionally, we may draw conclusions from these maps that may alter the way people historically have understood Paris in the 1920’s. Rather than interacting with these maps on a surface level, we encourage people to critically engage with the maps we create. When you look at the maps, you can treat it like snorkeling – “ooh” and “ahh” at the pretty colors and shapes, take note of the names of the kinds of fish you saw (except in our case, composers), and leave the experience with some nice memories that without photo documentation will likely fade. Or, you can throw yourself into the depths of the Parisian 1920’s ocean – Throw on the gear, dive down deep into the water, and understand what it is like for the fish to live there. See what they see. Know at least some of what they know. 

This summer, we will continue the work we have done so far in creating engaging, interactive maps for anyone to use. These maps will include important people, performances, and venues as well as mentions in critical reviews and change over time. We’ll be looking at books full of premieres, concert programs, scholarly articles, and other sources like police records of noise complaints. Some of these will not be available to us here, and so Carolyn will go to Paris in July to collect this data and send it back to us. In addition to our data research, we have been reading scholarly articles about Parisian life, spacial geography, and the purpose of historical research.

Alongside the sleuthing to find data is the entering of said data. Sam is creating a web interface similar to a google form that links to a spreadsheet (that we aren’t able to access – this prevents spelling errors and other data entry mistakes) in order that we can speed up the data entry process and reduce mistakes.

So far, we have made several maps such as this map of the combined Poulenc, Honegger, Milhaud, and Stravinsky premieres from the teens through the late twenties.


In addition to this, there are maps from previous years, like this prototype of a chronological map: https://pages.stolaf.edu/musicalgeography/chronological-map-prototype/. In addition to these maps, we will create maps individually or in pairs, including maps about performances of Jazz, the Second Viennese School, competing ballet companies, and non-Western music in Paris during the 1920’s.

With this information, I hope that people dive deep into the vast and complicated life of the 1920’s in Paris; through an immersed experience, people can scratch more than the surface level of facts and data. They can imagine what life would have been like, what neighborhoods would have had the coolest, hottest sounds, and what composers they might have loved based on their output and influence. There is something to be said for our users memorizing the facts on these maps. There is also something to be said for creating these maps with all the data we have collected. However, if we do not create an immersive experience that encourages viewers to utilize higher-level thinking skills to truly understand this vivacious time which altered history, we have not done the project justice. Our maps are not just data sharing for researchers – they are an experience, full of life and the potential to change how we have historically viewed this time and place.

Hopefully, over the next 8 weeks, we will achieve our goal of scuba diving down and becoming lost in the waters that hold so much knowledge and discovery. Perhaps, we will be able to convince others to descend into the depths with us.