About

Studies of Networks and Genres through Data

  • What can we learn about a music genre through its discography?
  • How can information about music help us better understand a genre’s history?
  • How can this information be used to discover how and when a genre emerges and changes?
  • How can biographic data of the artists be included within a discography lead to new discoveries about a genre’s origins, community, and culture?

The SongData Project explores the potential of using discographic and biographic data to learn more about how popular music genres form, develop, and evolve over time. We are developing approaches for using information about songs and artists to explore the connections between musicians and the broader socio-cultural and institutional frameworks that govern genres.

Focusing specifically on country music with our first major projects, we are developing a comprehensive dataset of singles that charted on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs classification list from its inception in 1944 to 2017. Although it has undergone several name changes since 1944, the Hot Country Songs chart is one of Billboard’s longest-running charts and has tabulated popularity through a variety of formats and methods – from jukebox records, to vinyl records, cassette tapes and compact discs, to digital downloads and streaming activity! The 19,844 singles in this dataset include every song that charted on the Billboard list over this 70-year period. Each single is being augmented with the discographic and biographic information about the broader network of artists involved in the creative process from composition to recorded production. Through the use of data mining and analysis tools (RapidMiner and Gephi), the SongData Project will illuminates connections between the songwriters, performers and producers involved in the creation of country music.

There are currently two main research projects that are part of SongData. These projects are funded by a professional development grant from the University of Ottawa (May 2017) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Insight, March 2018; Insight Development, June 2018).


What is discographic data?
Discographic data is the information that describes a record included in a discography. This information includes the song titles, names of songwriters (authors), performers (solo artists/groups) and producers, release dates, label catalogue numbers, and classification for popular music singles.
What is biographic data?
Biographic data includes all relevant information that describes the artists (songwriter, performer, producer) responsible for the production of a record, including name (and pseudonym), birth/death date, birth/death location, gender, and race.