Exploring Trends in Trinidad Steelband Music Through Computational Ethnomusicology

  • Elio QuintonEmail author
  • Florabelle Spielmann
  • Bob L. Sturm
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11265)


We present an interdisciplinary case study combining traditional and computational methodologies to study Trinidad steelband music in a collection of recordings of the annual Panorama competition spanning over 50 years. In particular, the ethnomusicology literature identifies a number of trends and hypotheses about this practice of music involving tempo, tuning, and dynamic range. Some of these are difficult to address with traditional, manual methodologies. We investigate these through the computational lens of Music Information Retrieval (MIR) methods. We find that the tempo range measured on our corpus is consistent with values reported in ethnomusicological literature, and add further details about how tempo has changed for the best judged performances at Panorama. With respect to the use of dynamics, we find limited usefulness of a standardised measures of loudness on these recordings. When it comes to judging the tuning frequency of the acoustic recordings, we find what looks to be a narrowing of the range, but these might be unreliable given the diversity of recording media over the past decades.


Ethnomusicology Computational ethnomusicology Music information retrieval Trinidad Steelband Calypso Soca Music archive 



This work is supported by AHRC Grant No. AH/N504531/1, and the French Labex Pasts in Present


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elio Quinton
    • 1
    Email author
  • Florabelle Spielmann
    • 2
  • Bob L. Sturm
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Digital MusicQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.CREM-LESC, UMR7186, CNRS, Maison Archologie & Ethnologie Ren-GinouvsNanterreFrance

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