NEH Grant to support Artificial Intelligence for Jazz Research in Digital Age

Gabriel Solis, Professor of Musicology, and Adriana Cuervo, Head Archivist at the Rutgers-Newark Institute of Jazz Studies, will lead a new research project entitled "New Directions in Digital Jazz Studies: Music Information Retrieval and AI Support for Jazz Scholarship in Digital Archives."  

They will lead a team of musicologists, computer scientists, and jazz archivists in the U.S. and U.K. who are working to make jazz archival collections more accessible to scholars, jazz fans, and musicians though digital means. This work will tap into the power of artificial intelligence to enhance digital research capabilities, and is based on algorithms developed by members of the team in a previous project, “Dig That Lick.” 

This grant is one of eight major awards from the newly established partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). These NEH/AHRC New Directions for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions grants will help promote the advancement of digital tools for scholars and researchers in the humanities. 

This project is expected to lead to automated transcription and melodic pattern analysis of audio collections in jazz archives. This will facilitate new discovery in the “long tail” of audio recordings held by archives that have not circulated widely as commercial releases. By linking this audio information to other kinds of archival holdings relating to the music and musicians—texts, images, ephemera, and so on—the team hopes to give the jazz world new tools to further understand the music’s rich history.

This project will have access to the collections of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark, and the Scottish Jazz Archive. As a U.S./U.K. partnership, the University of Illinois will partner with City, University of London as host institutions for the project.

Prof. Solis is Professor of Musicology at U of I, is also an affiliate faculty member in African American Studies, American Indian Studies, and Anthropology, and serves as Head of the Theatre Department. 

Adrianna Cuervo holds an MS degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois, and was previously an assistant archivist for the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music. At the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark, she serves of Head of the Archival Collections and Services, which houses one of the leading jazz research collections in the world.

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