Data Set from Bowie Symposium Talk
At the Symposium on the Stardom and Celebrity of David Bowie last July, I presented some data visualisations of trends and consistencies that exist in Bowie's catalogue of songs. In preparing my talk, I didn't just want to talk about trends I 'suspected' were there, I wanted to back up my points with something a little more concrete. Also, compiling the data gave me an excuse to listen to David Bowie records in the name of 'research' (such hardship, right?)
Anyway, after the talk many people asked me if they could access the spreadsheet. So here it is. I added some 'sound-alikey' categories (Scott Walker/Frank Black/Anthony Newley-esque, etc) on the advice of one symposium delegate I chatted to after I gave the presentation.
It's a work in progress and certainly not meant to represent anything other than very general categorisations to illustrate a point I was trying to make in my talk (which I'll write up and post here shortly). I am well aware that many complexities in the music are ignored in these categories, and that Bowie's often oblique/abstract lyrical approaches are not well served by the simplistic themes I've listed here. I'm also aware that many might disagree on the categories I've chosen. By 'Modal Effect?' I'm referring to any significant modal or diatonic signature that is present, and am not suggesting that the entire song adheres to that tonal profile. That said, the data set can certainly be refined, and if you want to fiddle about with it and have some additions/amendments/objections by all means let me know (email@example.com) or adapt your own version to suit.
General Bowie Vocalisations vs Song Content (Excel) (Numbers)
For the visualisations, I used the free version of Tableaux Public. You can access the visualisations here (also embedded below, though it seems not all of the tabs are showing). Click the different tabs to see the visualisations I prepared for my talk 'Can You Hear Me? looking at the recurring sonic and musical gestures in the works of David Bowie'.