Feature History

This is the supplementary web page to our paper “A feature history of jazz improvisation”, about to appear in summer 2018 in the conference proceedings of the 15th Darmstädter Jazzforum “Jazz at 100” in 2017. Our study traces features of (monophonic) jazz solo improvisations (as contained in the Weimar Jazz Database) over the time course from 1925 to 2009, in order to identify general developments. Indeed, an overarching trend to higher complexity, expressivity and virtuosity can be observed. Similarly, certain turning points in jazz (style) history can be reconstructed and new turning points candidates identified.

For demonstration and illustration purposes, we build a feature history explorer using the original data from the study. It invites to interactively exlore the development of a set of the selected features over time.

Furthermore, we like to report some more results we had to exclude from the original paper due to space limitations: the prediction of recording year of a solo with the help of features. Using Random Forests (a powerful statistical classification method), it is possible to predict the recording year of a solo with a precision of about 13 years from a few mostly pitch-related features alone.