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Publication . Article . Other literature type . 2021

Exploring the foundations of tonality: statistical cognitive modeling of modes in the history of Western classical music

Daniel Harasim; Fabian C. Moss; Matthias Ramirez; Martin Rohrmeier;
Open Access
Published: 04 Jan 2021
Country: Switzerland
Abstract

AbstractTonality is one of the most central theoretical concepts for the analysis of Western classical music. This study presents a novel approach for the study of its historical development, exploring in particular the concept of mode. Based on a large dataset of approximately 13,000 musical pieces in MIDI format, we present two models to infer both the number and characteristics of modes of different historical periods from first principles: a geometric model of modes as clusters of musical pieces in a non-Euclidean space, and a cognitively plausible Bayesian model of modes as Dirichlet distributions. We use the geometric model to determine the optimal number of modes for five historical epochs via unsupervised learning and apply the probabilistic model to infer the characteristics of the modes. Our results show that the inference of four modes is most plausible in the Renaissance, that two modes–corresponding to major and minor–are most appropriate in the Baroque and Classical eras, whereas no clear separation into distinct modes is found for the 19th century.

Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Artificial intelligence business.industry business Tonality Unsupervised learning Dirichlet distribution symbols.namesake symbols Computer science Natural language processing computer.software_genre computer Inference MIDI computer.file_format Bayesian inference Statistical model Mode (music)

Library of Congress Subject Headings: lcsh:History of scholarship and learning. The humanities lcsh:AZ20-999 lcsh:Social Sciences lcsh:H

Subjects

music, history, tonality, cognitive modeling, unsupervised learning, Bayesian generative modeling, General Economics, Econometrics and Finance, General Psychology, General Social Sciences, General Arts and Humanities, General Business, Management and Accounting, music history, statistical modeling

Funded by
EC| PMSB
Project
PMSB
Principles of Musical Structure Building: Theory, Computation, and Cognition
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 760081
  • Funding stream: H2020 | ERC | ERC-STG
Validated by funder
,
EC| PMSB
Project
PMSB
Principles of Musical Structure Building: Theory, Computation, and Cognition
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 760081
  • Funding stream: H2020 | ERC | ERC-STG
Validated by funder
Related to Research communities
Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage
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