WNUR Underground Archive Project

"good stuff"

This first tool is the most straightforward of all those Voyant offers, it is the Terms tool, creating a list of the terms in the analyzed text ordered by frequency of use. I wanted to start with this panel because it served as the jumping off point in my own observations and gives context for the other visualizations.

"Good stuff music directors, really good stuff."

The underlined words in the statement above were used a total of 104 times. Descriptors and modifiers like 'good' and 'really' form the bulk of the top ten most used word by music directors. That these words were used so often, alongside 'like' and 'cool' immediately point to the job of a music director: to attempt a description of the music they added for the DJs.

Whether these words tell a story of informative or detailed descriptions, may be up for debate. I would argue the majority of the 42 times music directors used the word 'good,' the description could have benefitted from some sort of additional description.  Still, to put that number in perspective, only 42 of the 1073 records collected here have the word 'good' written on their covers.  If one can assume all the records music directors chose to add to the collection were in some sense 'good' in their eyes, the inclusion of this term on only a handful of records points to a reality where a label of 'good' is actually more like a 'great'. Following this thought process, any positive writing on the cover of a record is a motion on the music director's part to bring attention to that record and seems rarer an act than one may assume.

To add another layer of perspective on this, I wrote a simple python program that would count the records with music director metadata. The result was 468, meaning less than half of the records in the collection archived thus far, have notes of some kind. Of course, these are not all qualitative, I will explore the more informational words later. Thus, beyond what the note says, the act of writing on a cover itself seems to indicate a certain quality of record in the eyes of the music director and to a well-acclimated DJ, distinguishing it from the majority of records without notes.

The collection of top ten most used words also point to a more general truth: people have trouble describing music in words. The implications and reasoning behind this observation go beyond the scope of the current project, but I find worth in mentioning the limited vocabulary and overuse of words like 'good' and 'stuff.' These occurrences, especially within the work of a body of writers with a higher musical intelligence than your average listener, prove the loss of words many experience when trying to describe or justify quality judgments surrounding music.

"good stuff"