Canal St Studios Tapes Database

Canal St Studios Tapes Database

Project Title:

Canal St Studios Tapes Database


LIS-697 – Database Design and Development, Fall 2016, Pratt Institute

Project Description:

This project was inspired by my work interning in the studio archives of artist and musician Laurie Anderson. Over the past year, Anderson’s studio has been preparing for the opening of a new long-term exhibition space at MASS MoCA that will serve in part as an audio archive of Anderson’s work. Part of this preparation involves the transfer of many of Anderson’s master analog audio tape recordings to a digital format. Anderson’s studio has been keeping track of the progress of this project using an Excel spreadsheet. After enrolling in LIS-697, Database Design, I wondered if a relational database could provide a more secure, easier to expand alternative repository for organizing this data.

Project Documentation

Download PresentationDownload Database Design DocumentationDownload SQL ScriptsDownload Entity Relationship Diagram


I began the project by thinking about the specific user needs of Anderson’s studio and of the staff at MASS MoCA, and what problems a database could potentially solve in the context of an audio digitization project. I then created an entity-relationship diagram to model how the data in my database would be stored. After receiving a copy of the Excel spreadsheet documenting the tape digitization project from Anderson’s technical director, Jason Stern, I used OpenRefine to clean and normalize the data, standardizing spellings and field content, splitting multi-valued cells, and eventually creating separate sheets for each entity documented in the database. After further refining my entity-relationship model, I eventually used MySQL Workbench to create a relational database to input the spreadsheet data. Using SQL programming, I created about 15 database tables, along with sample queries, transactions, and triggers.

My Role:

I am the sole creator of this project (using data from the team at the MagicShop Archive & Restoration Studio).

Learning Objective Achieved:



This project was created using SQL programming, along with digital tools including OpenRefine, MySQL Workbench, and, which I used to create my entity-relationship diagram.

Additional Learning Objective Achieved:

User-Centered Focus


This project was created with the needs of specific users (Laurie Anderson’s studio staff, MASS MoCA) in mind. As explained in the design documentation for the project, I structured the design of my database around the breadth of different types of audio material it would document, the stages and day-to-day procedures involved in the tape digitization project, the type of data recorded by the audio restoration engineers at the MagicShop, and how and why that data might need to be accessed in the future.