The MusicEdMagic Music Composer Database is intended to be a starting point for students, teachers, and music lovers in general to research and learn about their favorite historical and current composers. The Music Composer Database does not provide all of the information necessary to complete a homework assignment, but it does provide graphical, interactive information in a variety of formats that can help you visualize the relationships between the dozens of famous composers from medieval times to the current composers of today.
The database is made possible through software developed by students and faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology named Exhibit and Timeline . Special thanks should be extended to Mason Tang of MIT for showing me the way through some tough technical challenges on this project.
If this is your first time using the database please read on for further instructions.
When you first open the database your computer will load the Exhibit software and download the database in which the composer information is stored. Depending on your connection this may take a minute or two. Once loaded you should see the Timeline View including all of the composers listed in the database.
By click/dragging the two horizontal bars of the timeline you can move forward and backward through history to see where your selected composer fits into music history. Clicking on a composer opens a small popup that tells you a brief amount of information about the composer including dates of birth, death, and the locations of the same. It also includes a very brief biography of the composer and other information as necessary.
On the right side of the Timeline window are selection boxes. If you wish to limit the composers displayed on the Timeline to a specific era or to composers who wrote in a specific genre of music you can activate or deactivate the items using these boxes.
For a more complete view of a composer's life and additional references (books, audio files, and web links) click on the Wiew All Information link at the top of the Exhibit window. This will switch the Exhibit to a view of vertical tiles, each one with the complete information available about that specific composer. Again you can limit the composers displayed using the selector boxes in the right column, or you can also sort the list by last name, era, birthdate, or other criteria using the selector links at the top of the tile view window.
The last view possible with this music composer database is the Map View. Using geographical data and the Google Maps API you can visually see the geographical relationships between as many or as few composers as you wish. Zoom in or out of the map as much as you wish or overlay current satellite images and road labels.
This music composer database is a work in progress. More composers are being added regularly, and improvements to the interface are ongoing. See below for a list of references used to create this database as well as a changelog detailing work done to the database and the Exhibit itself.
Chad Criswell is a career music educator working in the Iowa public schools. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications both online and in print. He currently serves as the national music technology writer for NAfME's Teaching Music Magazine and has presented sessions at numerous music education conferences including the 2012 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic.
Chad, excellent job on the database! Personally I love learning about composers; their struggles, inspirations, accomplishments, etc. It makes me appreciate their music more. The Music Composer Research Database is a great idea. More power! <br /><br />(I posted a message prior to this one, but I don't know if it went through cause my connection was cut off)
Thanks for your comments Espie. You do a great job too over at About.com. More power to you and all of the music education writers out there!
Chad,<br /><br />Is it possible I could get a sample of this code?<br /><br />thanks<br /><br />steve
Steve,<br /><br />The software that runs the database is free for everyone to use and is written by students over at MIT. The project is known as Exhibit and all the information is available at [url]http://simile.mit.edu/exhibit[/url]. <br /><br />The code that you actually write is essentially plain HTML with some special modifiers. If you do a view source while looking at the research database you can see the code that makes it all tick. The data itself is stored in a Google spreadsheet that is instantly updated any time I make any additions to it.<br /><br />Honestly it is not incredibly difficult to get this going if you are even a little bit technically oriented. Let me know if you need any more info on it!<br /><br />-Chad
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