In 2020, DARIAH selected two streams of funding as part of the Theme funding call, ‘Arts Exchanges’ and ‘Arts, Humanities and COVID-19’. The call attracted a high number of well articulated and competitive applications, mainly addressing, perhaps not surprisingly, the topic of ‘Arts, Humanities and COVID-19’.
With an overall budget of 87.920 €, DARIAH funded nine projects for a year (December 2020 – December 2021). This series presents their results with a special focus on each of these projects.
Folk music groups: their artistic practice and infrastructural needs in the COVID-19 era and beyond
Coordinator: Magdalena Chudy, Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences
As the global COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to self-isolate, we realised how crucial information and communication technologies (ICT) are for performing our everyday life activities, i.e. allowing for remote work and study, remote access to key public services such as health, administration and finance, remote access to culture and entertainment including artistic performances. What we did not know is to what extent the pandemic situation affected the artistic practice in terms of building the repertoire, organising rehearsals and concerts, disseminating events, and whether there were services or digital tools that could specifically support artists in their work.
The main goal of this project was to identify infrastructural requirements of selected artistic groups and, as a result, to provide re-usable research methodology and workflow for gathering infrastructural requirements.
The project was conducted by the DARIAH-PL Music Information Research Working Group (MIR WG), which has been working on creating a virtual environment that supports ethnomusicological research. MIR WG’s work has been centred around the largest archive of Polish traditional music held by the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IAPAS) and its strong links with local, regional and national communities involved in preserving and cultivating musical traditions of Polish ethnographic regions. Hence, this project focused specifically on folk music practitioners and their requirements in regard to using digital technologies in their artistic practice.
Preliminary research and methodology
The project’s objective was to investigate, understand and determine whether currently available tools and infrastructures can address those requirements or whether new tools and services should be developed. Based on the preliminary research and interviews, prior to the beginning of the project, the project team identified four main areas in which folk music practitioners may interact with or rely on digital infrastructure related to cultural heritage:
- referring to source material for building a repertoire;
- reliable online communication between group members, including remote rehearsals;
- storing and sharing data to maintain the artistic workflow;
- art and music events dissemination.
The information on infrastructural requirements of folk music artists was obtained through a series of interviews with selected folk ensembles and an online survey directed to a wider folk music community followed by a workshop. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the project results with folk practitioners and to demonstrate technical solutions already available for the use by the community.
Implementing the aforementioned methodology allowed the team to gain an insight into how folk ensembles operate, during the COVID-19 pandemic and non-pandemic times, and how their activities are performed in various areas. The analysis of the data collected during the project revealed that digital research infrastructures have some capabilities to address folk groups’ needs. However, the ensembles are not always aware of the existence of these infrastructures and capabilities they offer.
The project team highlighted the need to expose artists to such infrastructure solutions and, on the other hand, to develop new tools that would address some of the artists’ specific requirements without imposing financial costs, varying from needs as basic as archiving of multimedia content produced by the group as opposed to more sophisticated solutions, for example platforms for online rehearsals and motion capture systems for dance.
This research aims to facilitate the implementation of dedicated tools that are user-friendly, cost effective, easy to employ and can be used on a large scale by folk groups in Europe.
* DARIAH Theme is an annual thematic priority set by the Board of Directors of DARIAH-EU. The aim is to stimulate activities and events related to an important topic of research in the digitally enabled arts and humanities by issuing a call for funding.