Category Archives: Article

Project: Chinese Music History

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We of Rock in China and Music-China.org are rolling out a new project: It is our aim to map and document the complete history of Chinese music online. Therefore we are inviting institutes, organisations, universities, professors, teachers and students to join in and support us. The reason for this project is the same reason that led us to start with Rock in China 9 years ago: Currently there is no overall comprehensive and detailed website about the historical development of Chinese music. And we want to change this and create a free public domain online reference. Independent from the topic of rock music we are going to look at traditional music, folk music, Chinese opera, Tang Dynasty music and many other Chinese music related topics. As we have expanded our online wiki into semantic web last November and received over 2 million page views in respond to that, we believe that we have create the right tool landscape to realize our aims.

 

 

Above are two PDF documents which we are distributing. One showing a brief summary of the project and the other document giving a comparison between the intents of Music-China.org and Wikipedia – the other major public domain knowledge base everyone is thinking about when talking about humankind’s online knowledge. There is a distinct difference in the intent of both wikis and working on this project with Music-China.org is more benefitial (Wikipedia prefers short, comprehensive articles without the level of detail that we intend to generate).

 

How can you help us? Help can be joining in on creating and editing of relevant online articles in our wiki together with other interested users. Help can be searching for copyright-free sources, media, photos and texts that can be used for our articles. Help can be also promotion of this project, announcing it online and establishing contacts with other interested parties.

 

You can read more about this project on our project page: http://www.music-china.org/w/Music-China_Wiki:Chinese_Music_History

 

This project is intended to start in April 2013, but account registration is already available. Everyone who is actively helping is going to be mentioned on our project page with his/her user name and will also be mentioned as contributor in our project status newslets.

 

I hope that you can join our project, either as individuals or as representatives of any of your affiliated organizations. We are open to all ideas, suggestions or critical comments and will definitely support in terms of account creation, introduction to wiki works and other topics.

Invitations have been issued to the University of Aarhus, the University of Heidelberg, DianMo – Sinology Student Newspaper of Leipzig, Kulturgut 文化财富 China, Hamburger China-Notizen, the China Media Project at the Journalism & Media Studies Centre (The University of Hong Kong), Das Reispapier, the European Seminar in Ethnomusicology, the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at the University of Indiana, the University of Wien, the Chinese Oral and Performing Literature (CHINOPERL) (中國演唱文藝研究會), the Association for Chinese Music Research, the Society of Asian Music, the International Insitute of Asian Studies, the Centre of Chinese Studies (SOAS), CHIME, the Centre of Chinese Studies at the University of Cambridge, the Department of the History of Art of the University of Yale and the Department for East Asia Languages and Literatures of the University of Yale.

RiC / MCN – Why Music-China.org is the right choice for culture documentation (heritage preservation)

Screenshot_HuaerDuring our implementations of the semantic mediawiki, our team came into a strong discussion on what the benefit of RockinChina.com and Music-China.org actually is. We were told that especially for traditional Chinese music, there is already a great website called “Wikipedia” that not only has more users, but is far more known. Well, let me tell you the reason why Music-China.org is the right choice for cultural documentation of Chinese music! The reason why we can do it better in terms of heritage preservation!

Let’s have a look at a Chinese music genre called Hua’er (of which above screenshot is taken). At wikipedia one will not find too much information about Hua’er, except one sentence:

Hua’er, a form popular in the northwestern China provinces such as GansuNingxia and Qinghai, named to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009

At Music-China.org however you will find:

  • An official UNESCO youtube video showcasting the music style
  • A semantical relationship between Hua’er and other music styles (FolkMountain Songs)
  • Open, exportable RDF about the genre including a Dublin Core abstract
  • A brief explanation as well as genre scene information as published by the Ministry of Culture of China (as public domain)
  • An overview of recent developments for preservation and safeguardsing as described in the UNESCO nomination letter in 2009.
  • The opportunity to mark songs and artists with this particular genre, i.e. making it semantic and linked! (and thereby exportable via RDF!)

In short, Music-China.org provides every user the opportunity to combine as many sources as possible and include the information on the wiki. Wikipedia in theory has the same functionality, however a different mission statement! Wikipedia is an encyclopedia which wants to describe any given topic in a neutral point of view on a precise yet also brief way. Gig listings, such as on artists pages (see Subs), re-iterations of lengthy sections of legal documents (see Hua’er) or individual concert reviews (see Suffocated) as references would never have a chance of passing the notability criteria of Wikipedia. And that is the strength of Music-China.org! Everyone can enter as much data about a topic as he or she wants to without the fear of strong notability requirements (see our own).

Surplus – and that is something that Wikipedia has NOT yet implemented on their own system – every data entered at RiC / MCN can be exported or called upon via RDF! We are semantic and very much alive!

Another example to show why Rock in China and Music-China.org are the better choice!

Screenshot_CuiJian1Our very own Cui Jian page compared to the Wikipedia one:

  • Wikipedia: 2112 words
  • RiC / MCN: 9039 words

Surplus, Wikipedia is listing Cui Jian at RiC as External Link and thereby as reference for everyone who wants to know more than the brief encyclopedic entry that WP provides.

Additionally RiC / MCN features

  • numerous music videos of Cui Jian that are collected via the Freebase / Google / Youtube API connection, RiC
  • an up-to-date system crawl for articles and books about Cui Jian in the “Further information” section
  • semantic annotations for the place of origin, Cui Jian’s main genre, his records and his musicbrainz UID

Need more examples? Check out this table:

Band Word count at RiC/MCN Word count at WP
Carsick Cars  3628 424
Subs  5112 0
Tang Dynasty  3721 604

RiC / MCN – A little bit of magic for events

Screenshot_Events1Another day, another post about the semantic magic that is happening over at merry merry Rock in China and Music-China.org: Events & Festivals!

Previously being lone pages that by hand were featured on our main page, events have become far more lively thanks to the magic worked by Semantic Mediawiki! As you can see in the above screenshot, we feature a moveable timeline showing all documented events in the system, starting with the latest one. As we haven’t entered all events with semantics, only a handful show up, such as

Screenshot_Events4Our stylish new form is asking for a few of the key facts of every event:

  • Poster
  • Title
  • Start date & time, End date & time
  • Organizer (you can add more than one)
  • Event Location (you can add more than one, e.g. for JUE festival, Beijing and Shanghai)
  • Participants (i.e. bands and artists)

These data will then be included in a factbox to the right of the page and a brief section about the bands is being added:

Screenshot_Events2To be honest, our events section is not as advanced as our artist page, but there are already a few cool effects we have added to make your data input more than just a plain events page:

Special events are being displayed on the VENUE page of the event, e.g. check out the Starlive or the Shanghai MAO live house page which display these events in a nice gallery:

Screenshot_Events3With release of SMW 1.8 and SMR 1.8 (incl. its enhanced gallery function) we hope to roll out this special treatment with backlinks to the event not just on venue pages but also on artists pages and on city pages. Surplus there are plans to make all events available based on genre selection (but that will require a little bit more magic beans).

For more info on our semantic implementation of events, its properties and class equivalences, check out our Semantic Approach project page.

 

RiC / MCN – Discovering China’s cities – Geographical music

Screenshot_BeijingWe already mentioned the new artists pages (incl. advanced magic) and the refined genre pages that are being featured at Rockinchina.com and Music-China.org. Now let’s have a look at the new City Pages, e.g. Beijing (screenshot above). Following a similar layout as the other pages, every city page offers a Google Maps displaying all documented venues in that city!

That is being made possible by the semantic property GeoLocation which is to be entered on any venue form. E.g. on the page of D-22 the geographical location 39° 59′ 27″ N, 116° 19′ 4″ E is being mentioned. This property is being called up on the city page along with all other Beijing venue geodata to be displayed on a Google Map.

Next to map there is our standard box with general information about the city including its name (English, Chinese, Pinyin), its semantic relationship to it being a province, as well as three magic numbers that are being generated from our semantic database:

  • Number of bands associated
  • Number of venues in town
  • Number of musicians born or died in town

These figures are automatically compiled using the data entered on either ARTIST pages, VENUE pages or PEOPLE pages. When you click on the links for (show all), you will see the individual lists.

Additionally as on most other pages, also the Template:Definitions is being set that allows to semantically connect a city to the same entity at either wikipedia, dbpedia or freebase.

Our magic template {{ArticleinPage}} is also working on city pages and relates any ARTICLE that has been tagged with Beijing to this city page.

Here is a little Infographic that shows the interwiki relations:

Infographic - CityAs always, all semantic relations, including the band / musician / venue relations are available as RDF Export on the city page (e.g. RDF Export for Beijing). And via the semantic linkage to the Open Linked Data Cloud (sameas property to dbpedia, etc.), all data can be entered and re-used!

RiC / MCN – The advanced magic of semantic web data aka Music Experienced

Screenshot_AdvancedIn the last post we already have explained how the new artist page is set up in general. We also had a brief look on the Template:Definitions which enables semantic linking to other web databases and thereby includes RiC and MCN in the world-wide Open Linked Data Cloud. Apart from that particular template and the general Form for new artists there are a number of magic spells that can be woven to make our system even more fantastic!

Above is a snapshot from our semantic data project page showing two template codes that can be used on various pages in the system.

The first one is used to manually add music videos to e.g. Artist pages, Record Pages, Song pages, Opera pages, etc. etc. in addition to the Youtube ID that should have been already entered in the respective page form. Everytime a YOUTUBE ID is entered in such a way, a property (Hasvideo) is set that links the page with the youtube video and makes it available in our system to be called upon from any other page. For more on video at RiC / MCN, please have a look at our article on how to add videos.

The second template called Template:FreeDownload is used to refer any page, e.g. ARTIST, RECORD, SONG, etc. with an URL that either contains a MP3 file or that contains some kind of method to download legal and free music (e.g. imusicbox.hk). Once again, with every used template for a download, the URL is being attributed to the property (mo:free_download) and can be used throughout the whole system, e.g. on our Downloads page in the Songs section. If you “edit” that section you see the actual called upon code:

{| class="wikitable" border=1 cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="80%"
!Artist Image
!Artist Name
!Free Download Link (either MP3 or URL)
|-
{{#ask: [[Category:Artists]] [[mo:free_download::+]]
|?Image
|?mo:free_download
|mainlabel=Artist
|format=template
|template=ShowDownloadTable
}}
|}

With that magic word “ask” and the query behind that every free download within our system and linked on an Artist page can be called upon.

Screenshot_ArticlesNext up in our spell book is the Template:ArticleinPage which is very close to Template:Booksinpage. It basically crawls through the Category:Articles and searchs for any article or blog entry or journal article or scientific paper that has been tagged with the name of the page on which this template is mentioned. E.g. on Carsick Cars it will find two articles:

and include them at the place of the template. Hence no more copy & past for interview articles, just one entry with the Form:Add a New Article and voila, the article will appear on the band page.

Next on the list of magic spells is the semantic definition foaf:made:: within the Discography section:

== Discography ==
=== Albums ===
<gallery>
Image:xxx|[[Foaf:made::Title (Artist)|Title]] - Year
</gallery>

When entering an album on the page of a band (still needs to be done manually), then one has to include the prefix Foaf:made:: before the actual title, e.g. [[foaf:made::You Can Listen, You Can Talk (Carsick Cars)|You Can Listen, You Can Talk]] as shown in

Image:CSC-YCLYCT.jpg|[[foaf:made::You Can Listen, You Can Talk (Carsick Cars)|You Can Listen, You Can Talk]] – 2009, June

That way we will be able to recognize which record belongs to a band. For sure a similar reference is being set on a record page but as there will always be more band pages than record pages, this way no information is lost. Surplus we use this method to be able to find RECORD pages based on properties set on ARTIST pages. Think, all records from metal bands formed in 1999.

Summing up: There are a lot of templates available (with most of them being explained on our semantic approach project page) that not only add value to an individual page, but also to the whole system and other pages. Last but not least, by using the templates and magic words additional properties are set for individual pages. Properties that can be exported via RDF (see example RDF export for Carsick Cars) and re-used in other pages.

RiC / MCN – An explanation on the new ARTIST pages

Screenshot-CSC_1This is our second post about the new system we implemented at Rock in China and Music-China.org and within this post we talk about the new ARTIST pages and what new possibilities arise.

First of all, when opening a page, e.g. Carsick Cars, any reader is giving two visual impressions of the band:

  • a band photo (as before)
  • and a Youtube video (for everyone outside of China)

The other standard data such as Artist Origin, name, Genre and other information is as usual displayed in the table underneath the profile pic and now also within two additional boxes before the general history starts:

Screenshot-CSC_2

This data is not entered anymore with a simple wiki template in wiki code but we are offering a standard form that can be reached by the “edit with form” tag on top of the artist page.

Screenshot-CSC_5This form is generated via the Semantic Forms extension and each input in this form will not only appear on the ARTIST page itself, but will also be used on other pages. E.g. When one enters a GENRE or several genres into the respective field, our system understands that Carsick Cars is e.g. a ROCK and an INDIE artist. As such on the respective genre pages, the band would appear in the band list, its records in the record list, and, if a youtube video ID is entered, also in the list of randomly selected music videos.

When the ORIGIN or PRESENT LOCATION of a band is entered, e.g. Beijing or Wuhan, then the artist gets automatically associated with the city and the band count on the CITY page is going up by one.

Coming to the next new feature: semantic connections to the Open Linked Data world in the web! Sounds… unmusical? unsure what it means? Basically with the following wiki template that is being placed on nearly every site of RockinChina & Music-China we are connecting our system with the systems of the web:

Screenshot-CSC_6Called “Definitions” one has the option to enter a number of URIs or Links to major websites such as

  • Wikipedia
  • DBPedia (same as wikipedia, just semantic)
  • Freebase
  • Musicbrainz
  • Youtube

We use these links to enable the following:

Screenshot-CSC_3

Screenshot-CSC_4There are two collapsible tables at the bottom of the page:

  • Further videos – which uses the “Freebase ID” (/m/……) to call up to 50 music videos about the ARTIST from Youtube and include them in our system
  • Further definitions – which uses semantic data linking (sameas or foaf:primaryTopic) to link our ARTIST page to corresponding ARTIST pages in the web

What are the benefits?

  1. With the semantic linking we can tell the machines in the world that our CARSICK CARS artist is the same CARSICK CARS artist as already written about on Wikipedia, Freebase, Musicbrainz and DBPedia, and well… yes also the same CARSICK CARS that has an automatic youtube channel!
  2. Machines and humans alike can now check out the other pages and compare the content and information. In the future it will be also possible for machines and persons that are on Youtube or that surf on Wikipedia to understand that RockinChina and Music-China has also a page and probably with more content. So Chinese artists will be found more easily.
  3. All the data that is entered about an ARTIST, such as the image, the name, the founding city, can not be attributed not only on RockinChina but also on DBPedia. Machines know that CARSICK CARS on DBPedia is the same CARSICK CARS as on RockinChina. But only on RockinChina the complete data set is available. DBPedia can now import the data set and complete their data along with a reference link to the extensive history page at Rock in China.
  4. The same is true for Musicbrainz, which is already in talks to use Rock in China as an official whitelisted database! With semantics in place, it will be possible to update either our records or the musicbrainz ones respectively!
  5. In conclusion that means: Whenever you enter data at Rock in China about a Chinese band, you will feed the Open Linked Data cloud with this data and enable the world to learn about the band, the artist, the record, the music scene of China!

RiC / MCN – What is possible

Screenshot_1_Rock

With our new semantic approach, there are a lot of things possible! To give you a little guideway in which way you can use Rock in China and Music-China, here is our first post about GENRE pages.

The above and below screenshots are taken from the page Rock of our system. Whereas in the past we only had a little bit of text on each artist page telling the genre, the same is now a semantic link directing readers to a genre page about e.g. Rock music. There are already a lot of Genre pages set up, so if you want to discover new music in let’s say “Traditional” or “Punk“, just check out the genre pages.

Our genre pages are built up as follows:

  • Top left part: a randomly selected YOUTUBE video of an artists that is tagged with the genre. In this case SAUL was selected by the system – not a bad choice. When you click on the “show” part of the red box additional infos are being shown about the artist.
  • Top Right part: a automatic alphabetical list of all artists tagged with the genre tag. If there are more than 30 entries, a “Further results” is displayed showing you the rest of the artists. For sure, our original category “Rock Artists” is still available and is automatically updated.

Scrolling down you see the following:

Screenshot_2_Rock

Four boxes with automatically generated content relevant to ROCK:

  • A definition field that tells you about the connection of this Genre to other Genres within our system, i.e. which other genres belong to ROCK. Surplus we have implemented semantic relations to outside pages, predominantly Wikipedia  and DBpedia, for web crawlers to understand the relations and for you to quickly read up on the history of ROCK in general or e.g. of Funk.
  • A randomly generated list of records from ROCK artists. Again with a Further results list.
  • A list of all articles that are entered in the Article Category that are tagged with ROCK, chronologically ordered.
  • A list of all books that are entered in the Book Category that are tagged with ROCK.

Thereafter, as in every wiki page, individual content can be added, as e.g. is done at the “Jiangnan Sizhu” genre page (a traditional music genre from China). And last but not least this shows up:

Screenshot_3_Rock

The category for Genre is automatically set and below that is the magic Factbox that will appear on all semantic data pages of our wiki. it shows all mentioned PROPERTIES and its related VALUES, in this example the relation of our ROCK page to wikipedia (foat:primaryTopic) and our relation to dbpedia (sameas).

On the right side of the factbox you see “RDF feed” which will open in a XML file with all the properties and values for our genre page ROCK included (as well as incoming property statements). This is the page that can be web crawled, e.g. by Google, DBpedia, Freebase, BBC Music or any other service collecting music data. It can be web crawled and it can be understood due to the category tag GENRE and our SAMEAS relation to DBPedia.

Seen the above, compare that to what was possible in October 2012:

  • A category list with artists individually mentioned as “Rock Artists”

Now? All our pages are magically connected, giving you always the relevant content first and offering you options on how to discover new and unknown artists.