The Lark Ascending Premiere

Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending was first performed, in a version for violin and piano, at Shirehampton Public Hall on 15th December 1920. This page gives details of that concert, based on the original programme, which is held in the Philip Napier Miles Archive in Bristol University Library.

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Eurovision – Post Match Review

Congratulations to Sweden’s Loreen for her victory in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest! And to Liverpool for being the best of host cities. And thanks too to the Eurovision statisticians on posting the (almost) complete voting data for Liverpool 2023 on their website within 24 hours of the result!

This post looks at the detailed voting results. It refers back to previous analysis, particularly in this article.

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The Joys of Eurovision Scoring

Transcript of a presentation given at the RSS Merseyside Group’s event “A Stat for Europe: Statistics of the Eurovision Song Contest” at the University of Liverpool on 26 April 2023. It is partly based on my article in Significance (April 2023).

A video of the live version of this presentation is available here.

I’ve called this talk “The Joys of Eurovision Scoring” partly because I’m a bit of a nerd and Eurovision is an excellent source of statistics, but also because it is a clever scoring system, where everyone can have their say but there is guaranteed suspense and excitement up until the end of the show. It also reflects the Eurovision countries and how they relate to each other.

I’d like to cover three topics – what we can learn from the scores of individual jury members; why the public televote has more influence than the jury scores; and finally looking at the question of voting clusters.

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Ragtime Ngrams

The Google Books Ngram Viewer is a powerful tool for analysing historical text data. It uses the enormous corpus of books scanned by Google to analyse the frequency of words and phrases over time. An n-grams is just a combination of words – so a single word is a 1-gram, a pair of words a 2-gram, etc. The Google viewer has data up to 5-grams.

This has potential uses in many fields – including musicology. Here we will use the ngram viewer to analyse the rise and fall of ragtime music.

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Desert Island Discs Revisited

My article on Desert Island Discs from April 2020 has been, by some margin, the most popular page on this site, in terms of number of visitors. Last year, I was approached by some researchers from the Alan Turing Institute about sharing the data with them so that they could do their own analysis. I was delighted to see this Turing Data Story appear on their website in March this year – they have updated my dataset, added further information from Wikipedia and Spotify, and looked at some different questions. Excellent stuff!

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The Impact of Covid-19 on Concerts in England: Update

In this article from the end of 2020 – The Impact of Covid-19 on Concerts in England – I used data from concert-diary to investigate the impact of Covid restrictions on classical concerts in England. Many had been cancelled or postponed, and the market then shifted mainly online, with total activity being substantially down on the previous year. One year on, here is the updated analysis, using concert-diary data to the end of 2021.

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