Corey Mwamba


Documenting Jazz: THE RHIZOME

Conservatory of Music and Drama, Rathmines Road Lower, Dublin Dublin 6, IE

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I'm taking part in two panels in what looks to be a great conference in Dublin! In the first panel, I will be talking about THE RHIZOME.

The Rhizome: Documenting Expansions and Representations in British Jazz and Improvised Music

Created as a response to a hand-drawn “UK Jazz Family Tree” (Crofts, 2018), THE RHIZOME (Mwamba & Ward, 2018) is an online visualisation of an ever-growing database of jazz and improvised music practitioners based in Britain and Ireland. THE RHIZOME was conceived by Corey Mwamba in conversation with Tom Ward: and the two musicians wrote the code for it over two days in March 2018, utilising the D3.js data visualisation library (Bostock, Davies, Heer, Ogievetsky, community, 2011), PHP, and JavaScript.

From its inception with 200 names, the database has grown in size to just under 1200 practitioners and 350 bands, predominantly by musicians entering their own data. It is currently the largest freely-accessible online snapshot of British and Irish jazz and improvising musicians. Within it, disparate musicians are connected through others by shared associations and groupings. But the story of its creation also highlights issues of representation of and within jazz and improvised music; our place within the music’s history and how this is displayed.

This presentation acts simultaneously as a technical guide to THE RHIZOME, as well as a critique from its main creator.