Session 13 — Transforming Musicology

Saturday 09:30 - 11:00

High Tor 3

Chair: Jamie McLaughlin

Early Music & Digital Technology

  • Tim Crawford,
  • David Lewis

Goldsmiths, University of London

By the use of suitable data-capture methods such as optical music recognition for

printed 16c part-books, combined with manual encoding for manuscript and other

sources, we can study large amounts of score-like musical data using computational

techniques for pattern-matching, classification and analysis. In this paper we look at the

ways such search methods can be applied across a mixed corpus of encodings of 16c

vocal and instrumental music, and how they might be extended to include audio

recordings. Although in principle an armoury of pattern-matching algorithms has

become available through decades of work in bioinformatics and information retrieval,

each one of these needs to be carefully reconsidered and possibly adapted for use in a

musicological context. Using a geometric pattern-matching method designed with music

in mind, we carried out a preliminary study of the ways in which ornamental patterns or

clichés were applied in the process of arranging pieces of vocal music for the favourite

16c instrument, the lute, showing that this was done differently for sacred and secular

music. Searching directly for simple melodic fragments within lute pieces is perhaps

unexpectedly challenging, mainly because of the number of ‘false positives’ one is likely

to encounter in any passages of dense polyphony. This forces us to adopt

computationally expensive strategies such as n-gram searching, with concomitant issues

around the analysis and display of results in a manner which would lead a musicologist

to a valid intuitive response. Further work is likely to involve examination of the internal

details of instrumental music notated in tablature, the system used by the lute, which

allows estimation of the relative difficulty of passages, or to ‘grade’ whole pieces. A

nearly identical tablature system is used today in vast quantities on the internet to share

interpretations of popular music for guitar and other instruments

Hearing Opera: Wagner and the human response

  • Daniel Müllensiefen,
  • Richard Lewis,
  • Harri Siirtola,
  • David Baker,
  • Christophe Rhodes

Goldsmiths, University of London

One of the research strands within Transforming Musicology concerns Richard Wagner’s

use of the ‘leitmotif’ in the four operas of his ‘Ring Cycle’: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre,

Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. While leitmotif was not Wagner’s own preferred term,

the use of short, clearly identifiable themes or motives to indicate a range of concrete

entities within the drama (such as people, objects such as swords, spears, or a dragon),

as well as emotional states (fear, longing, joy, etc.) and more complex concepts (a curse,

foreboding, jealousy, and so on), has become indissolubly linked with his name and was

hugely influential in his time and on subsequent music history. Our work has combined

‘conventional’, text- (and score-)based musicological approaches with a number of

psychological experiments aimed at discovering how, precisely, operatic audiences

respond to the music – or, more correctly, to the complete experience of the opera (the

Gesamtkunstwerk). A great, and entirely unexpected, opportunity arose for us in the

context of the 2014 Being Human festival, in which, thanks to some additional AHRC

funding, we were able to directly measure the bio-physical reponses of audience

members at a staged performance of the complete Ring Cycle at the Birmingham

Hippodrome. The mass of highly complex data this has produced demands a lot of post

hoc work, both to align it precisely with the musical score and details of the staging we

captured using our custom-built annotation system, and to analyse the response-
patterns that we observe both as they appear in general for all participants and as

manifested in the individuals concerned. This paper presents new results from analyses

done in recent months thanks to a further small grant from the AHRC.

Semantic Linking and the Workflows of Musicology

  • Kevin Page,
  • Terhi Nermikko-Fuller,
  • Carolin Rindfleisch,
  • David Weigl

University of Oxford

A common theme between the various research strands of Transforming Musicology has

been the contribution of each towards a semantic infrastructure, using the techniques of

Linked Data and the Semantic Web, aimed at providing enhancements for sustainability

of research data, methods and results. In particular, it was felt from the outset that the

principle of repeatability, well-established in the sciences, is not incompatible with the

aims and aspirations of humanistic scholarship. So, where possible, we attempt to

publish our datasets and our workflows in a way that should, in principle, allow others

to repeat our investigations, and/or re-use them on different or expanded datasets as

appropriate. Based on earlier work on scientific workflows, we have studied a number

of processes of musicological investigation and will present some of our findings in this

paper. Two musicological examples around such workflows arose from the Wagner

work in Transforming Musicology: the Musical Score Annotation Kit (MuSAK), a multi-
device digital annotation environment for assisting musicologists in recording the

ephemeral phenomena of a specific staging during its live performance, developed for

the 2014 Being Human festival; and the Leitmotif Ontology, which enables the semantic

annotation of sources of literature on the leitmotif and the structured representation of

the different interpretations they contain. MuSAK comprises a touchscreen tablet for

score annotation, a digital pen, a server that receives and stores annotations, and audio-
visual media recordings; software reconciles and relates the digital constituents into a

coherent semantic navigable hyperstructure. The paper will describe the motivation

behind the ontology, and discuss how it can integrate the varying methodologies and

ways of thinking evidenced the documentary record of music history. Both examples, we

believe, can offer a useful model for future work in Digital Humanities research.

Networks of Musicology

  • Ben Fields,
  • David Lewis

Goldsmiths, University of London

Musicology, as with most other humanities disciplines, is largely published on the web

today. This provides a new opportunity for studying the transmission of ideas, both

within and among communities of musicologists. The ideas that are formed and

transmitted within and between musicological research communities, leaving their

digital trace in online publications such as Music Theory Online, Empirical Musicology

Review, and others, may be studied as a contribution to the historiography of

scholarship. The ways in which disputes arise and are resolved or reinforced, and how

the values and interests of a research community develop and change, can be analysed

using methods from social network analytics. We have built network models based on

common institutions and co-editorship using both statistical methods and network

analytics which enable us to see the community structure within scholarly musicology.

We have also looked at where these communities do and do not follow physical and

geographic boundaries, as well as how such networks affect the spread of ideas. Using

the abstracts and keywords provided (usually by the authors themselves) to a large-
scale bibliographical resource, the Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale

(RILM) we present first work in a study which relates the social networks to those

which can be derived from common or related concepts explicitly expressed within this

textual material. This empirical approach goes towards a better understanding of the

ecology of scholarly musicology, across cultures, sub-disciplines, and institutions.

Publishing Musicology Digitally

  • Richard Lewis

Goldsmiths, University of London

In the grant proposal for Transforming Musicology we committed to the production of a

book covering the research undertaken in the project in some depth. As envisaged then,

it was to have been a conventional publication, with an online version offering a degree

of extra linkage and embedding some digital material. This was modelled on the notion

of preparing traditional scholarship for Web publication. However, with much of our

data, methods and findings now published as Linked Data, our emphasis has shifted

sharply towards online presentation as our primary outlet, with a summary print

publication. This requires us to design an information architecture accommodating the

needs of scholarly music publishing, and to work out an authoring strategy, ideally one

involving TEI, and an editing strategy resulting in high quality hypertext. This allows us

to embed and link dynamic music examples by using the TEI-compatible Music Encoding

Initiative (MEI). For example, rather than static music examples, we can display extracts

from complete scores as examples, and allow users to select a passage as a query to an

MIR system. Another possibility that comprehensive markup allows is curating dynamic

reading paths for different readerships. The content must be edited into re-combinable

chunks, each carrying information about how they may be re-combined. Reading paths

might include: a research findings report on Transforming Musicology; a handbook on

digital musicology methods; a focussed discussion of a particular digital methods; or an

authorial/editorial reading path (as in a conventional book). In this way we shall widen

access to broader audiences by allowing readership interactions such as annotating or

commenting, or crowd-source-like contributions to our (meta)data sets. We shall also

build reading paths suited to lay audiences, opening musicology to scientists and

engineers interested in music, and also offering a palatable way into advanced digital

technology for musicologists and musicians.