The purpose of mapping has always been to convey information, whether specifically or generally.  In recent years, the so-called “spacial turn” has changed what kind of information maps should convey, but it didn’t change that fundamental truth.  Maps in the 21st century are used to convey social, temporal, and political space.  A map can show the borders between peoples, religions, nations, social groups, musical trends, or anything the cartographer sets their mind to.  The biggest task a cartographer has is to determine how to convey that information with clear and consistent symbols and terms.

To this end, I looked at the map of Musical Centers of Italy around 1650 as seen in the textbook The Histroy of Western Music.  This map, while clear in symbols, was vague and ambiguous.  I found it lacking any definition of what makes a “musical center,” and it seemed as though they just labeled every major city in Italy at the time .  The map lacked the proper tools for what Diana Sinton calls “Critical Spatial Thinking.”  In this regard, I sought to create a map that allowed for further analysis by the viewer, but still conveys the same simplicity.  I decided to narrow the focus to only look at major centers of composition in Italy during the 17th century.  In this way, it contains information that can be analyzed by a careful and critical reader, but still give the same basic detail that the original map does.

One potential problem with my approach lies in the sheer scale of the task at hand.  Exclusion bias runs rampant when trying to count and categorize every piece of music written in 17th century Italy.  Many composers have lost works or works without any location info, and I am constantly discovering new composers.  I have reached a point where I’ve analyzed over 2500 pieces of music that are fitting into trends rather nicely, but there is still sampling bias present.  Maybe the reason I’m finding so many pieces from Rome was because composers in Rome worked through the Vatican, who kept notoriously good records.  Secular composers of small cities may not have kept their music in written form, or any written copies may have been destroyed along with any trace of the composer.