Degree of Vitality
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This map represents levels of vitality of 100 music genres across the world, against the twelve factors of the Music Vitality and Endangerment Framework.

For most genres on the map, the data only represents one person’s perspective. This is the person who responded to the survey about that genre.

The ‘default’ pin for a genre – the one shown when you first visit this page – represents the survey respondent’s perception of the overall vitality of that genre.

You can also style the map according to respondents’ perception of the overall viability of the genres. Or you can choose any of the twelve factors of the Music Vitality and Endangerment Framework. Use the drop-down box above the map.

However you choose to style the map, the same six-point graded system is used to colour the pins. Where a respondent left an answer blank, the pin displays as grey.

Please refer to the ‘Map FAQs‘ to the right for more information.

Map FAQs

What is the purpose of the map?

This map serves two main functions. The first is to make available the raw data generated by the research project on music vitality and endangerment, described elsewhere on this website.

The second purpose of the map, like of the research project as a whole, is to help raise awareness of the problem of music endangerment. Public knowledge and understanding of a problem is an important step in helping take action against it.

UNESCO created a similar map (in online and print versions) for languages, the Altas of the World’s Languages in Danger. Since its first edition in 1996, the Atlas has become ‘a powerful tool for monitoring the situation of the world’s endangered languages, while continuing its proven role as an instrument for raising awareness among policy makers, the media, the general public and especially the speakers of languages in danger’ (in the words of Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, 2010).

It is hoped this map may serve a similar function, for music.

Who made the map?

This interactive online map is the product of a collaboration between the researcher (Catherine Grant) and Geographical Information Systems specialist Ian Kirkland, using free, open-source tools Google Maps and Google Fusion Tables.

The information on each genre represents the generous contribution of over 80 ethnomusicologists, community workers, and community members from around the world. Where these individuals gave their permission to be named, they are acknowledged on the profile page of the relevant music genre.

Where did you get the data for the map?

The data represented on the map were generated from a online survey that ran from 1 May to 1 March 2015. Researchers, community workers, and musicians from across the world were invited to respond to a series of questions about a music genre of their choice.

The survey questions were designed to directly correlate to the 12 factors of the Music Vitality and Endangerment Framework.

The survey was disseminated through the professional networks of the researcher, as well as through the list-servs of relevant organisations including the Society for Ethnomusicology, International Council for Traditional Music, British Forum for Ethnomusicology, Musicological Society of Australia, and Canadian Society for Traditional Music.

How has the data been verified? How 'true' is it ?

For most genres on the map, the data only represents one person’s perspective. This is the person who responded to the survey about that genre.

In using the map, it is important to remember that the information on the genres may therefore be idiosyncratic. Whether or not the information presents an ‘accurate’ picture of the genre depends on several factors, not least how well the respondent knows and understands the situation of the genre. Even political motivations may play a part (like a respondent saying a genre is less viable than it is, in order to encourage greater efforts to support it).

In short, for now this map should be interpreted as representing perspectives on endangerment and vitality, rather than the actual situation of the genre.

If the map proves to be a useful tool, its validity and accuracy may be improved over time, as more experts become involved, and as more feedback and responses are gathered on the situation of each music genre.

Why do some genres have several pins?

In a small number of cases, different survey respondents reported on the same music genre.

Methodologically, receiving multiple responses for a single genre is very useful. Comparing the responses helps indicate the extent to which the survey tool accurately reflects the situation of these genres.

For this reason, the researcher actively solicited multiple submissions on a single genre, where possible.

No respondent saw any other survey responses before completing the survey themselves.

For the map, it was considered preferable to keep the individual responses distinct, rather than conflate them into a single pin. In this way, the map user can compare the survey responses too, and draw conclusions on the validity of the findings.

Why do some areas have many pins, and others none?

To some extent, the location of pins reflects the fieldwork expertise of musicians and researchers in the networks of the researcher, and those on the list-servs of those organisations through which the survey was disseminated (in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the UK).

There was no restriction on the number of responses a single individual could provide. One respondent, for example, completed the survey twelve times for twelve different genres, all on the islands of Vanuatu. This creates a cluster of pins in that region.

Another cluster of pins is in Cambodia. This reflects the researcher’s active solicitation of survey responses during a period of fieldwork in June-July 2014.

Why aren't there more genres on the map?

This website is the outcome of a 12-month project. 100 genres was simply a manageable number for the scope of the research.

No claim is made that the map currently displays a representative sample of music genres, or music vitality and endangerment, across the world.

If the map proves to be a useful tool for researchers and communities, a more detailed and extensive interactive online map of music genres may be built over time. UNESCO’s language map shows a possible trajectory: its first edition in 1996 incorporated 600 languages, then 900 in 2001, then over 2500 languages in 2010.

Why did you put the pin for that genre where you did?

It is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the exact location, or central locus, of a music genre.

Sometimes, survey respondents report on a specific location (e.g. ca tru in Hanoi, Vietnam) that is easily defined geographically. Other genres are much harder to pinpoint (Western classical opera, for example, or electroacoustic music).

UNESCO met a similar problem in their map of endangered languages across the world. Perhaps even more than languages, music genres can be found across several locations – in several communities, countries, and even online!

The location of each genre on this map is determined first of all by the information given by survey respondents. Where a respondent did not identify a geographical location, or where the location was not easily or accurately placed on a map (e.g. Arabic-speaking communities in several countries through South-East Asia), a location was chosen to best represent the central locus of that music genre. All survey respondents were given the opportunity to check the location of their pin, and to adjust if necessary.

What do pin colours mean?

The level of vitality or endangerment of each genre, for each factor and overall, is represented by a scale. The scale runs from 0 (non-vital, or inactive) to 5 (very vital/vibrant).

The colour scheme for each grade of the scale is the same as that used by UNESCO in the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger.

UNESCO’s Atlas includes only endangered languages. This map, however, includes music genres regardless of their degree of vitality or endangerment, so a sixth category was added to represent ‘vital’ or ‘vibrant’ (represented by the colour green).

My music isn't on the map. How can I get it there?

All information on the map comes from responses to the survey that were submitted in the nine months from 1 May 2014 to 1 March 2015.

The survey will remain open until 1 May 2015. If you wish for a music genre to be represented on the map, please take the survey or invite someone else to do so. New survey responses will be added to the map in May 2015.

I disagree with one of the assessments.

Survey responses, and therefore map data, are the perspectives of only one individual.

For this reason, the map is best interpreted as representing perspectives on endangerment and vitality, rather than the actual situation of the genre.

Collecting multiple responses on a single genre is an important way to gauge the validity and reliability of the survey tool. You are most welcome to complete the survey about a genre already on the map (before 1 May 2015).

How can I get involved?

If you have ideas about how the map may be used or improved, or how this research may be carried further, please contact the researcher.