This morning, my team and I created our very first digital map. We put together a spreadsheet of place names from some reading that we did yesterday about music in 1920’s Paris. The authors we read included Roger Nichols, Nigel Simeone, and Jann Pasler. We each compiled a list of place names, both music-related and non music-related, that appeared in these readings. We then put what all of us had collected individually into one big spreadsheet, and found addresses, small descriptions, and media for each place. Finally, voilà! We put together our first map, separating it into two layers to represent the cultural landmarks and the specifically music-related landmarks.
I found the process of turning this information into a map very exciting. It was extremely fulfilling to see the work you have done to compile information transformed into a concrete and dynamic tool. I learned a lot of things from that one experience, both about the method of map-making, and about how it can transform the study of music history. For instance, I discovered that one of the most important things to get right in data collection is the street address and zip code. I also learned that there can be two different street addresses for places, for instance if a particular conservatory or institution switched locations over the years. I discovered also that maps make arguments. Our particular map seems to reinforce Pasler’s argument about the melding of culture, politics, history and music. We can discover a pattern when we denote the different layers of the map. I am excited to see how we can use these features of the map to reveal other arguments and patterns.
I can certainly foresee challenges in the map-making process, particularly looking ahead to our goal of mapping Milhaud’s critical reception. It will be important to be very specific about addresses, and to pay attention to those that have changed throughout history. The most tedious part of the process seems to be compiling the data, which is where I think we will run into the biggest road blocks. However, I feel energized by the excitement of creation! I think I speak for the whole team when I say we enjoyed producing this first map, and look forward to creating more that will reveal even more insights.
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