Cantometrics coding sheet.

ACE devotes resources to activities utilizing and building upon the four decades of research on performance style and culture spearheaded by Alan Lomax. Essential to such efforts are the data and analyses developed for Cantometrics, Choreometrics, Parlametrics, and the other studies made by Lomax and his colleagues in the performance style series.

Preparation of basic research materials

  • The basic materials created during the course of this research were compiled and annotated at ACE with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rock Foundation, and the Concordia Foundation. The original research collection is available at the Library of Congress. Selected portions and the related Global Jukebox Collection may be consulted at ACE.
  • The Cantometrics dataset of over 5,500 musical examples selected from a vast corpus of field recordings and published discs, together with coded analyses and metadata, was prepared at ACE from 2005–2007 with funding from the Concordia Foundation. The African sample in the dataset was expanded by Victor Grauer. It is stored in Access and MYSQL formats
  • In collaboration with the Rosetta Project, the Parlametrics dataset was similarly handled, though it requires further processing.
  • ACE's intention is to link all of the performance style datasets so that they may be cross-correlated and explored together, as was originally intended. In 2007 we extracted and normalized the Choreometrics, Urban Strain, Phonotactics, Minutage, and ethnographic datasets. It is now necessary to reconstitute and add metadata to the new databases, to Telecine and digitize the filmed segments of dance and movement illustrating the Choreometrics codings, and to associate all digitized media examples with the data.

Support for research on Performance Style and Culture

Materials and facilities for research on expressive culture are available at ACE and at the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress has set aside several Kluge Fellowships for research on the Lomax materials, including the Performance Style and Culture Research Collection.

Research Collaborations

ACE seeks research partners and funding to explore and expand this rich resource. Several research scientists have recently worked with the Cantometrics dataset. Armand Leroi, Reader in Evolutionary Developmental Biology at Imperial College, London, became interested in Cantometrics through composer Brian Eno. Leroi and biostatistician Jonathan Swire applied a cluster analysis to the data that confirms the geographic regions of style identified in the Cantometrics study in the 1960s. Through ACE, Victor Grauer initiated a collaboration with genetic anthropologist Sarah Tishkoff and biostatistician Floyd Reed at the University of Maryland to compare genetic and musical variation in sub-Saharan Africa. Tishkoff and Reed have been researching the population genetics of a wide variety of African tribal groups. Reed comes to the project with musical interest, being himself a musician and originally from the region of Galax, Virginia, one of the creative centers of American roots music.


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