Digital Musicology Workshop: "Corpus Analysis: Distant Listening of Musical Scores"

Workshop and Colloquium

Feb 07 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Center for Digital Humanities
Firestone Library, Floor B


Date: Friday, February 7, 2020 

Time: 10:00-12:00pm

Location: The Center for Digital Humanities (Firestone Library Floor B)

Abstract:  Hands-on workshop on Music21, an open-source toolkit for computer-aided musical analysis.

Confirmation: Due to limited seating, please confirm your attendance using the following form:

Speaker Bio:  

Michael Scott Cuthbert, Faculty Director of Digital Humanities and Associate Professor of Music at the MIT, is a musicologist who has worked extensively on music of the 14th century, computational musicology, and digital humanities. Cuthbert’s research lab has produced “music21,” an open-source toolkit for computer-aided musical analysis, which has an installed user base in the tens of thousands. He directs MIT’s programs in Digital Humanities, which creates code to educate and solve problems across disciplines.  Cuthbert’s current book project covers sacred music in Italy during the Black Death and Great Schism. 

Sponsorship: The Center for Digital Humanities and Department of Music




Date: Friday, February 7, 2020 

Time: 2:30-4:30pm

Location: Woolworth 106 (Department of Music)

Title of Talk: Music Decoding: Forgetting Perfection, Finding Results in Digital Musicology 

Abstract:  When musicologists make a decision to engage with the digital humanities, they are often encouraged to join in “music encoding”.  The process of creating digital scholarly editions (think Urtext or M2) might feel like the twenty-first century continuation of the long, distinguished, and noble discipline of critical editing within musicology.  “Learn the Music Encoding Initiative—MEI— and join the future,” speak panel after panel at AMS and other musicology conferences.  But what past Gesamtausgaben and other scholarly editions long possessed, MEI scores lack: that is, readers.  Computational musicology’s emphasis on perfect digital editions that cannot be decoded or read by anyone outside of the projects themselves sets it far behind music analysis projects created by outsiders—theorists, composers, scientists, and programmers—who understand that decoding music is at least as important as encoding it.  The paper uses results from imperfect encodings and un-critical editions to make claims about style and borrowing in popular and medieval music that are possible by prioritizing what we want to get out of digital humanities over what we want to put in. 

Sponsorship: The Center for Digital Humanities and Department of Music