Knowledge Base Aims and Structure

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Introduction

The “wiki” structure which was pioneered in the major encyclopedia, Wikipedia, makes it easy to navigate to any category covered by the Knowledge Base through its structural classification. Articles also have different information content as shown under the second heading below, basically being statistically or verbally descriptive, or raising issues associated with particular sections of the music sector.

Structure

Five basic categories (a basic wiki term) are each subdivided into further categories. For example, “Creation” contains the category “Live Performance” which contains “Contemporary Music Genres” which contains the genre “Jazz”.

  • About the knowledge base (Intro): Welcome to our visitors; basic introductions and explanations.
  • Fundamentals: Overview of the music sector and how it fits into the economic and cultural environment — the music sector in context.
  • Music creation and performance: The creation, production and presentation of music in all its forms.
  • Support and infrastructure: The array of activities (physical or organisational infrastructure) that supports creation and performance.
  • Technology and research: Evolving technologies; music-related research and information; emerging areas such as "green music".

Information

For any topic, this is the information we would like to provide. For example, under the category “Music Creation and Performance”, take the area of jazz performance:

  • Mapping music in Australia: a description of the nature of jazz performance, who does it, who presents it, where it happens
  • Statistics: quantitative aspects of the map
  • Issues: about issues facing jazz in Australia
  • SWOT analyses: strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats to jazz performance in Australia (a formal approach to identifying issues)
  • Notes/Gaps to fill: addressing incomplete aspects and inviting contributions to rectify these.

The key information categories are Mapping, Statistics, and Issues (including SWOTs). The aim is to cover each of these for all parts of the music sector (such as jazz used in the example). While this may happen in separate articles (descriptive; statistical; addressing issues), there is a trend towards discussing issues in an otherwise descriptive or statistical article. This is acceptable.

Basic Objective

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The aim of the Knowledge Base is to cover all activities related to the social, cultural and economic role of music in Australia. This is an ambitious objective which will ensure that the Knowledge Base will remain a work-in-progress in a changing world. The ultimate aim is expressed in the right-hand column of the graph, which for each main category of music sector activities states that the narrative and numerical descriptions for each significant activity must be completed and maintained, plus analysis of the issues facing each activity. The three main categories are:

  • creative musical activities (composition, live and mediated performance),
  • infrastructure which aims at capturing the supportive industries and activities that enable the music sector to exist and develop, and
  • innovation, covering the substantial role of technology, research, information and new activities generally in the music sector.

The analysis of the music sector as a whole is a related aim. It is undertaken concurrently to support the detailed analysis focusing on the three main categories of performance, infrastructure and innovation, and because not all the detail needed there is required for the ongoing aggregate analysis. That said, the process of estimating the total contribution of the music sector remains a formidable one.

The main categories are discussed in More on the Structure below. The definition of the music sector has developed over several years. Despite its complexity, it has become possible to define a set of reasonably workable structural descriptions. Though they still invite debate and the current framework remains imperfect, the model is workable.

We show below that large gaps remain in the knowledge base, especially when the ultimate aim is to produce not just descriptions but also comprehensive statistics and identification and discussion of the key issues facing the various components of the music sector.

New Directions

In its new home within The Music Trust, the Knowledge Base will continue to pursue its basic aim with some added features. These include reviews of recordings and books, and periodic reviews of investigative research and reporting throughout the Australian music sector. We will be generally open to new ideas, guided by our Advisory Council and others.

More on the Structure

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The Knowledge Base attempts to provide three basic information categories for each activity of music sector component (say, “jazz” or “tertiary music education” or “green music”):[1]:

  • Mapping music in Australia — describing the activity
  • Statistics — adding numbers to the description
  • Issues — discussing the challenges facing the activity. Within the issues category, SWOT analyses are given their own icon, acknowledging the formal "SWOT" approach to issues recognition, based on identified Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

As discussed in the concluding section, there is still a long way to go for most activities, so the knowledge base has a fifth main information category in addition to “Mapping Music in Australia”, “Statistics”, “SWOT Analyses”, and (other) “Issues”:

  • Notes/Gaps to fill — which includes asking for contributions to the knowledge base in the numerous instances where information remains inadequate.

Each article has been allocated to its dominant structural group (Mapping/Statistics/Issues) and marked with the icon for that group. In the interest of simplicity, only one icon is attached per article. Some articles are classified to more than one of these main structural groups, for instance when a descriptive (mapping) article also identifies and discusses issues. All major and lower-order categories are shown at the bottom of each page of the Knowledge Base.[2] The following guidelines are used in deciding which icon to use at the top of each article:

  • Formal tabular and graphical statistical content takes precedence over mapping. Statistics is an important mapping tool in its own right — however, articles are also marked "Statistics" if they discuss a lack of data as in some of the articles associated with Overview of Music Statistics: ABS and Overview of Music Statistics: Other Sources.
  • When descriptive articles discuss issues as well, Mapping Music in Australia normally takes precedence. The Knowledge Base identifies these categories in separate lists which can always be looked up through the browsing column of the top banner.
  • SWOT Analyses are given their own icon. They use a formal approach to define Issues which warrants their special identification.[3]
  • Some introductory articles do not belong to any of the four main categories identified above, but they are useful for understanding the Knowledge Base and its aims and structure. This article is one of them. They belong to the initial main category "About the Knowledge Base" and are marked with the Intro icon.
  • Anything marked Notes/Gaps to fill is given that icon.[4]

The Knowledge Base is Growing

The following paragraph and table show the most recent count of pages or articles in the Knowledge Base. There has been good progress, but the number represents only a fraction of the ultimate aim, which depends on the help of more contributors.

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Currently,[5] the knowledge base consists of 205 articles, 18 notes/gaps to fill (flagging needs for contributions on particular topics which are still missing), and 15 introductory items (Box 1). Eighty-seven articles are marked with the Mapping music in Australia icon, and another 28 combine verbal description with formal statistical content, or mapping is a subsidiary classification on other grounds. As statistical data are mapping tools in their own right, as many as 146 articles are primarily of the descriptive kind (marked with the mapping or statistics icon), with 28 more having some significant descriptive content. The number of articles with a statistical orientation increased from 38 in February 2012 (the first time this analysis was carried out), to 47 in March 2013 and 60 in early 2014. Statistical analysis remains a key objective for the Knowledge Base, with further major studies in the pipeline to help determine the short- and long-term impact of the music sector.

This is the third annual count of Knowledge Base articles. The total increased from 180 in February 2012 through 206 in March 2013 to 238 in January 2014. There were some interesting changes in the pattern of articles with the largest increases in mapping and statistics. The primary category for mapping (marked with the mapping icon) increased from 60 articles in 2012, and 71 in 2013, to 87 in 2014. Including articles where mapping was a significant major category but not the primary one, the increase was from 75 through 90 to 115. The growth in the total number of statistical articles (the second descriptive category) was shown in the previous paragraph (from 38 to 60 in two years).

The number of articles featuring issues showed a surprising turn. Articles where issues were identified as the primary major category (with an icon) were practically static at 38, plus SWOT analyses, which remained at 21. The SWOT analyses resulted from a special campaign in 2008 to generate SWOTs — a campaign which should be repeated and extended.

The surprise was that the number of issues-oriented articles remained static, but only if we count the issues icon. There was a large leap in the number of descriptive articles where issues were significant but subsidiary to either Mapping or Statistics, from 22 in both 2012 and 2013 to 53 in 2014 — they now account for the majority of all articles dealing with issues at all. This is a very desirable development suggesting that the typical Knowledge Base article may be on a path towards greater integration of description and issues identification.

Of the remaining categories in Box 1, the number of notes/gaps to fill har remained low. This is a signal to the editor to be more active in alerting potential contributors towards gaps that need filling. The number of introductory items, in contrast, increased from only four in 2012 to 10 in 2013 and 15 in 2014. This indicates improving promotion of the Knowledge Base which can be generally assessed from the Welcome page.

For full detail on how each article is categorised, please refer to the end of each article page. The details include subcategories such as individual genres, area of music sector support covered (such as music education and training), and attributes which are relevant in a particular case (such as technology). A full list of categories (and subcategories as the knowledge base operates with hierarchies)[6] may be found through the Browsing tab at the top of each page of the Knowledge Base — complete with number of articles covered in each category. Clicking on a given category provides a list of individual articles for that category.

Gaps in the Knowledge Base

Contributions to fill such gaps are requested from anyone with special knowledge. Please refer to the Welcome pages and Guidelines for Contributors, or contact the editor.

Total Music Sector

The ultimate aim for the music sector necessarily rests on a large number of sources and a considerable amount of estimation. The work to embrace the entire music sector started in the mid-1980s and received a boost in 2005 with the Hoegh-Guldberg and Letts report for the Statistics Working Group of the Cultural Ministers’ Council, A Statistical Framework for the Music Sector. The development of this work is explained in The Music Sector and two older articles (to be consolidated), The Value of the Music Sector and Estimating the Value of the Music Sector. There is still a long way to go.

Music Creation and Performance

This category has three subcategories:

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  1. Composition contains a note on art music suggesting one potential statistical source (identified in Overview of Music Statistics: Other Sources). There is no article on composition of any contemporary or popular music genres, whether descriptive or addressing issues. This is a distinct gap.
  2. Live Performance has several subcategories of its own including Art music genres and Australian Indigenous music. Contemporary music genres are further categorised in the "Genres" category (see further below). A new category, "Genre Analysis", contains five articles related to community orchestras, Australian recordings, multicultural arts, music festivals, and music industry technology — indicating that the Knowledge Base is entering ever richer fields. Three of these articles are statistical, one of which also raises issues. Of the two remaining articles, one is categorised as mapping and one raises issues.
  3. Mediated Performance covers broadcasting (relatively well represented with 18 descriptive articles on commercial and community music stations respectively, an article with several appendices raising the issue of Australian content, and an article outlining the considerable potential for developing a good statistical base), screen music (six mainly descriptive articles but there is statistical potential as outlined in Overview of Music Statistics: Other Sources), and recording industry(seven, including two articles describing the global historical context and the Australian industry, respectively).

The graph shows the current coverage of identified art music genres categorised as mapping, statistics, or issues/SWOTs. Ideally, all three major categories should be represented for each genre with up-to-date representative contributions. Six of the eight genres have been mapped, the exceptions being chamber music and music theatre. However, all the maps need to be updated. Thanks to the campaign in 2008 to contribute SWOT analyses, issues have been identified for six of the eight genres, but again these contributions could do with an update.

There were some significant developments in art music statistics during 2013, including a new initiative to conduct surveys of individual symphony orchestra members, and a comprehensive survey of community orchestras. There are more orchestral survey data in the pipeline, to be incorporated shortly. There is still room for improvement in the orchestral area, including analysis of the annual reports of symphony and other orchestras — the same applies to opera companies.

It is very pleasing to include the first comprehensive survey of community choirs — a pioneering effort along similar lines as the community orchestra survey mentioned in the previous paragraph.

There are now nine articles classified as Australian Indigenous Music. Six are categorised as "Mapping music in Australia", of which three also address issues and two have statistical content. Two articles are orientated towards statistics only, and there is one note inviting more contributions.

Contemporary music genres include folk music (two maps and SWOT), jazz (two maps and SWOT), and hip-hop and electronica (one descriptive map each). There are two articles categorised under computer music (not including the electronica article)

The statistical potential has been much improved for contemporary music through surveys of venues and casual musicians described in Overview of Music Statistics: Other Sources, and Casual Music Workforce. This has helped to fill an important gap in our knowledge of the Australian contemporary music scene.The "popular music" category was introduced to cover the large canvas of contemporary genres played by bands ranging from casual musicians in pubs and clubs, to international performers. Five articles are categorised under "popular music" including Casual Music Workforce which describes the statistical surveys that added so much to our knowledge. One other article addresses statistics and associated issues. The remaining ones are categorised as SWOT, mapping and issues, respectively. Despite the improved statistical base which the Knowledge Base describes, there is a need for more comprehensive analysis of contemporary popular music, concentrating on live performance as well as recording and other sections of the music industry.

The "genre" of world music (covering the spectrum of general traditional music) is represented by four articles. Two of the current articles address issues, one combines mapping and issues, and one maps a variety of music including world music. The Knowledge Base is currently being expanded to put the Australian practice of world music into a better international context.

Support and Infrastructure

This essential major category has eight subcategories (two of which are further subdivided as shown):

  1. Government Support (20 articles)
  2. Intellectual Property (nine)
  3. Manufacture and Trade, with further subcategories: International Promotion and Trade and Musical Instruments and Equipment, and six directly associated articles
  4. Music Education and Training has seven direct subcategories: Music Education Overview, Early Childhood, Schools, Post-Secondary Education, Studio Music Teaching, Vocal Music Education, and Business Education and Training.
  5. Music Publishing (three articles)
  6. Music and Health (six)
  7. Venues and Audiences (seven)
  8. Other Infrastructure Support (nine, including articles on employment conditions, legal services, organisations, private funding of music, and artist management).

These articles already cover a wide spectrum of verbal and statistical descriptions, raising issues either formally through SWOT analysis or in other ways. This support is evidently essential and the reader is invited to delve into the structural categories listed above. A great deal has already been done to provide this information, though it is clear that many gaps remain, and that updates must continue to be made.

Technology, Research, Information

The last of the three basic categories reviewed in this article brings together topics in the areas of technology, information and research. These activities go beyond supplying support and infrastructure. Innovation is an important theme — basic to technological development, and to research. [7] It is a natural extension to include activities which mainly disseminate information — often with a considerable research element. Recently developed activities such as "green music" also add renewal to the music sector, justifying its inclusion here.

There are currently two subcategories of this major category:

  1. Technology consists of 28 articles on various aspects, including the rapidly changing international recording industry in the digital age, an article on the nature of technology development in general (according to the polymath economist and complexity theorist Brian Arthur), and one exploring how Arthur's theory could be applied to the music sector. Other articles discuss technological issues associated with content quotas, higher education requirements, and impact on unsigned musicians. For further detail on this important aspect of the Australian music sector please visit the technology category yourself, through the drop-down lists at the top of the page.
  2. Music Information and Research, which is further categorised into Music Criticism (three articles), Music Libraries (four), Music Museums (five), and Music Research (12). The last category in 2013 sprouted its own subcategory, "Music and Brain Science", which features five articles to date. Study of the brain is becoming important in an era of rapidly developing neuroscience.
  3. Music and the Environment is another new category, with one article to date. There will be more.

Notes/Gaps to Fill

The current total of 18 notes (down from 20 two years ago) is clearly not enough to invite many more contributions to fill specific gaps — more notes will have to be written, inviting others to contribute material.

Conclusion

The general finding is that there is a rich potential for adding to the knowledge base. This is best demonstrated by following its category structure. The above sections provide some thumbnail sketches demonstrating the potential — they do not pretend to provide a detailed complete review.

The knowledge base, in conclusion, relies importantly on advisers and contributors identifying gaps, either in the provision of descriptive material (maps), by raising issues, or by pointing to statistical sources or ways to create such sources.

Author

Hans Hoegh-Guldberg. Initial complete version 27 February 2012. Thanks to Dick Letts for his original contribution to "Finding Your Way Around". Most recently updated 11 January 2014.

References

  1. See also Guidelines for Contributors
  2. For example, the article Technology and the Recorded Music Industry, while showing the statistics icon at the top, is also put into the main categories of Mapping Music in Australia and Issues, as well as several lower-order categories.
  3. The icons, in short, distinguish between formal attempts to find clues through SWOT analysis, and issues identified through other means. Either approach is justified.
  4. The Statistics icon was designed by the author in Microsoft PowerPoint, incorporating a triple clef courtesy of free software from Music Graphics Galore. I also designed the "Intro" icon from a combination of Microsoft Office Clip Art and WordArt designs. The four remaining icons were selected from the Microsoft Clip Art collection.
  5. The latest analysis is dated 9 January 2014. It is updated periodically as discussed in this section. The wiki structure that is used will show current totals at any time, but not how many articles are marked with a particular icon at the top.
  6. Say, from "Music creation and performance" through "Live performance" through "Contemporary music genres" to an article on hip-hop.
  7. It is no coincidence that the Austrian-American economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) is mentioned several times in this knowledge base. He has been a major proponent of the thesis that innovation and technology are integral drivers of the macroeconomic model, not external to it. Coupled with the observation that technology has a stronger influence on music than on the other arts, this thinking is behind our decision to keep this third major category distinct from general support and infrastructure.
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