Folk Index Database Information

This index was originally created and is currently updated and maintained using Alpha4, a relational databse management software. Currently the database files reside on my home PC, a Lenovo Thinkpad model, using the DOS v.8 version of Alpha4. The files, consist of both primary and index link files. The primary files include: These primary files, which contain a unique ID for each record, are used to create the link files as described below. Other files include instrument files, and music category. They serve mainly as lookup files or auxilliary files that are not completely linked to the primary files.

Web file Management
Transferring a relational database system to the text based environment of web browsers requires considerable adjustment. Since the web is all about transmitting files over the internet, large files present problems. The original discography created by Alpha4 was about 3.5 Meg. Breaking this up into smaller files of about 30-50K and then establishing an index to these files is relatively easy, but the issues of presentation and the idea of creating "active" cross references presented some interesting challenges in terms of both web page and data management.

Since Alpha4 has a very sophisticated report writing facility, I decided to use this facility to generate these individual files with the required HTML markup. This meant establishing an additional datafile to store information about each separate file in order to generate the correct cross reference name anchors and links. A new field containing the name of the web file it apears in was added to the primary music database. In many ways, it is convenient to think of these 400 odd files as drawers in an old fashioned library catalog, with the cross references functioning to point you to other related entries in the catalog. The HTML hypertext link now gives instant movement between these cross references.

Future enhancements that I have considered in the past are discussed below, and it is possible that I maybe able to carry out some of this in the coming months, since the changes would not affect the search facilities of the site.

A slightly more detailed description of the process involved in transforming this relational database structure into the current Web Site design is provided in a handout distributed as part of my poster session presentation at the Association for College & Research Libraries Conference in Detroit on April 9, 1999. 

Other statistics - Listed here are some statistics with respect to ranking of specific titles and performers. The rank frequency distribution for both music titles and performers follows the typical "80-20" rule, with approximately 80% of the songs and performers appearing 20% of the time, and 20% of the listings appearing 80% of the time. Thus there is a "top hits" distribution for both titles and performers.

Music titles - The list below show the top 12 entries for songs and ballads and then for dance tunes. On an absolute basis, the tunes outnumber the songs in terms of the 10 highest ranked, and this probably reflects my involvement as a stringband musician (fiddle, banjo, dulcimer, guitar, etc.) in collecting and indexing both the older recorded material and the modern "old-time stringband" revival recordings and books.

Ballads and Songs
Title Total hits Cross Refs Books Records
John Henry 316 21 84 211
Barbara Allen 231 15 108 108
Froggie Went A-Courting 165 11 87 77
Buffalo Gals 157 12 67 88
House Carpenter 149 7 86 56
Pretty Polly* 143 10 53 80
Coo Coo Bird 140 13 43 84
Golden Vanity 139 9 60 70
John Hardy 139 5 48 86
Lonesome Road Blues 133 14 39 80
Wildwood Flower 132 6 52 74
Girl I Left Behind Me 129 16 56 57
*does not include any of the Cruel Ship's Carpenter versions.

Dance music (Reels, Hornpipes, etc.) - included here pieces that are primarily used as music to be danced to. Some, such as Old Joe Clark which has many lyrics, are associated with square dances, but were also sung in a wide variety of settings, including children's games, show and display music, and many other social events.

Title Total hits Cross Refs Books Records
Old Joe Clark 268 8 92 168
Soldier's Joy 260 14 70 176
Turkey in the Straw 211 24 69 118
Sally Goodin 193 14 42 137
Cripple Creek 199 12 51 136
Arkansas Traveller* 187 3 61 123
Miss McLeod's Reel 156 14 50 92
Fisher's Hornpipe 149 7 42 107
Billy in the Lowground 155 16 41 99
Flop Eared Mule 155 20 29 106
Sally Ann 143 11 19 113
Mississippi Sawyer 135 2 28 105
* Does not include the skit versions of Arkansas Traveler

Jane Keefer, November, 2013      Return to Folk Music Index Homepage