Enriching Metadata for Irish Traditional Music at the American Folklife Center

1. Abstract

In the past ten years, a number of digital projects have demonstrated the possibilities afforded by developing semantic ontologies, and a number of these ontologies have recently been published for music. Linked Jazz, for example, continues to demonstrate how discoveries can aid libraries and archives in re-imagining the representation of their holdings that contain music. The recently published Linked Irish Traditional Music project (or LITMUS), is further testimony to value of Linked Data and the importance of building specific ontologies for Irish traditional music, song and dance.

In this presentation, I introduce Connections in Sound, a linked data case study that was focused on exploring Irish traditional music in audio collections from the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress. The project team worked closely with reference librarians to identify metadata from fieldworker and recordist documentation and transcribing audio data from a range of performance contexts. The resultant wide range of metadata allowed us to make connections between and unite metadata descriptions of audio material that had previously existed within separate sections of the archive. The case study demonstrates the particularities of a range of metadata, formats and fieldwork methods from material in collections that span the twentieth century at the AFC.

Connections in Sound pilots a number of digital methods such as data gathering and structuring to examine how material from disparate sources may be brought together and visualised with the digital re-combination of metadata. Connections in Sound progressed in an iterative, experimental way for a) gaining insight into the possibilities of utilizing current resources for digital semantic description within the genre and b) understanding limitations of these current resources as identified during data analysis and gathering.

This pilot seeks to contribute to discussions on what is specific about Irish traditional music that can inform how we might progress with Linked Data, for best practices, methods for analyzing, gathering and representing data. In so doing, Connections in Sound attempts to relay insight into understanding the opportunities and challenges that arise when developing linked data resources for Irish traditional music, and traditional music in general. It suggests potentials for continued research in this area and offers insight into advancements for Linked Data with traditional music in general.

The project is also supported up by a survey of musicians across North America who perform Irish traditional music in order to understand the nuances of their interaction with sound files from archives such as those within the American Folklife Center.

Patrick Egan (patrick.egan@student.ucc.ie), Library of Congress, United States of America

Theme: Lux by Bootswatch.