If you’ve been following our progress for a little while now (and of course you have, otherwise I’d be talking to an empty room), you might have a few questions as to what exactly we are trying to do in this project and, my personal favorite category, how.
The reason why I’ve entitled this post “Comments on the Methodology” is, quite frankly, because I’m not certain that we collectively can do much more than comment on the how. Allow me to elaborate.
Although this project envisions a specific objective in the form of a map and this lovely website (which, I am confident, is swiftly burrowing its way into the hearts of thousands), beyond that goal lies the rather more ambitious coup d’essay of recreating the experience of a moment in time. As though the map itself were not ambitious enough. Lacking the necessary computer skills of our own, our team has drawn on the age old tactic of relying on unsuspecting auxiliary forces impressed into service from various other departments and projects. Consequently, our project methodology is…flexible.
However, there are some key characteristics of our method that it does well to keep in mind. There is a method to the madness, although after searching through even a single day of concert listings in Le Figaro may cause any of us to question it.
But I won’t bore you further with my incoherent ramblings. Succinctly, what we are trying to produce is a visual guide, in the form of a map, to the way that 1924 Paris sounded. Mostly, our research reveals the formal, classical world of music – the Opera, the Ballets Russes. In part, this is due simply to the documentation available from the period. For reasons unfathomable, underground jazz clubs were less forthcoming in publishing their daily repertoire. The Opera, on the other hand, evidently enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with various newspapers.
Beyond sifting through archives – online and in print – or journals, we are also trying to listen. This being a project primarily focused on music, we want to know how Stravinsky sounded in 1924, or what audible elements in Satie’s score for Mercure could have launched a scandal. Beyond that, we are looking for the interaction between music, art, literature, and daily life all over the city.
There is no way to gauge success or failure in this venture. Not exactly, anyway – the worst that could happen is that my readers begin to ignore my writing in favor of something more legible. However, this project as a whole is meant to be continued in the semesters to come, so that it, like the map, remains on some level interactive and responsive to the needs of the people it serves.
All we can ask is that this project becomes a resource for students and dabblers alike, an enjoyable yet useful creation.