From now on, rule number one is “no shortcuts.” No more trying to do the same work with less effort, no more ending up with a lower quality product. Maybe shortcuts work for some people, but they don’t work for me! Especially not the ones inspired by my hubris as a programmer. I can still hear the deceitful voice of my subconscious whispering in my ear: Don’t enter those records by hand… Write a program that will do it for you… And here I am, two weeks later, with a hundred performances of Ravel’s Boléro sans program information, all because the data I tried to scrape off the BSO and NY Philharmonic websites were full of extra spaces, extra parentheses, and misspelled words. To make matters worse, my “time-saving program” failed to record the first piece on each BSO program.
Finding performance data for Ravel’s Boléro hasn’t been hard. The Internet is overflowing with digitized orchestra programs, and French periodicals available on Gallica supply information about performances in France. Apart from my initial refusal to enter data by hand, I have so far encountered only two main challenges: finding performance information from other European countries, and deciding how to represent my data on maps.
Thanks to a digital collection called Europeana, the first challenge hasn’t posed too great a difficulty. When I search Europeana for texts matching “Boléro”, the first result is a concert program from the State Theater in Lithuania, at which the piece was performed in 1932. Upon finding this program, my first thought was, where is Lithuania? I looked it up and discovered that it’s far to the east of France. In that case, was Boléro also performed in Poland? Belarus? Ukraine? With the knowledge that the piece spread quickly to both the east and the west, I can search for performances in specific countries.
To finding data, entering it by hand, and making awesome maps!