Alan Marsden

Software for Schenkerian analysis: how do we know if it is any good? (11/11/10)

Schenkerian theory is a highly developed and widely adopted theory of tonal music, with some similarities to grammar for language. Since the 1960s, theorists have been interested in implementing Schenkerian theory in computer software, driven in part by the same interests in formalisation which have driven computational linguistics over the same period. Complications of handling music and under-specification in the original theory have been impediments to implementation, but software which does derive quasi-Schenkerian reductions from short segments of music has been completed in the last couple of years. The not unexpected outcome of this is that Schenkerian theory as expressed in the principles found in theory books is found to be insufficiently precise to specify even a manageably small set of analyses from given a score. A fundamental question now, both for music theory and for software development, is the basis on which to extend or to add to these principles in order to produce (only) acceptable analyses. In this seminar presentation I will describe and demonstrate the software as it currently exists, and discuss possible avenues for development, focussing on the basis of 'ground truth' which might be used in such developments

Department of Computing, Goldsmiths College, University of London, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW

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