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Journal Article

The Global Jukebox: A public database of performing arts and culture


Kirby,  Kathryn
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Wood, A. L. C., Kirby, K., Ember, C. R., Silbert, S., Passmore, S., Daikoku, H., et al. (2022). The Global Jukebox: A public database of performing arts and culture. PLoS One, 17(11): e0275469. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0275469.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-815B-C
Standardized cross-cultural databases of the arts are critical to a balanced scientific understanding of the performing arts, and their role in other domains of human society. This paper introduces the Global Jukebox as a resource for comparative and cross-cultural study of the performing arts and culture. The Global Jukebox adds an extensive and detailed global database of the performing arts that enlarges our understanding of human cultural diversity. Initially prototyped by Alan Lomax in the 1980s, its core is the Cantometrics dataset, encompassing standardized codings on 37 aspects of musical style for 5,776 traditional songs from 1,026 societies. The Cantometrics dataset has been cleaned and checked for reliability and accuracy, and includes a full coding guide with audio training examples (https://theglobaljukebox.org/?songsofearth). Also being released are seven additional datasets coding and describing instrumentation, conversation, popular music, vowel and consonant placement, breath management, social factors, and societies. For the first time, all digitized Global Jukebox data are being made available in open-access, downloadable format (https://github.com/theglobaljukebox), linked with streaming audio recordings (theglobaljukebox.org) to the maximum extent allowed while respecting copyright and the wishes of culture-bearers. The data are cross-indexed with the Database of Peoples, Languages, and Cultures (D-PLACE) to allow researchers to test hypotheses about worldwide coevolution of aesthetic patterns and traditions. As an example, we analyze the global relationship between song style and societal complexity, showing that they are robustly related, in contrast to previous critiques claiming that these proposed relationships were an artifact of autocorrelation (though causal mechanisms remain unresolved).