Decoding Beethoven's music style using data science

phys.org | 6/6/2019 | Staff
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EPFL researchers are investigating Beethoven's composition style using statistical techniques to quantify and explore the patterns that characterize musical structures in the Western classical tradition. They confirm what is expected against the backdrop of music theory for the classical music era, but go beyond a music theoretical approach by statistically characterizing the musical language of Beethoven for the first time. Their study is based on the set of compositions known as the Beethoven String Quartets, and the results are published in PLOS ONE.

"New, state-of-the-art methods in statistics and data science make it possible for us to analyze music in ways that were out of reach for traditional musicology. The young field of digital musicology is currently advancing a whole new range of methods and perspectives," says Martin Rohrmeier who leads EPFL's Digital and Cognitive Musicology Lab (DCML) in the College of Humanities' Digital Humanities Institute. "The aim of our lab is to understand how music works."

Beethoven - String - Quartets - Quartets - Movements

The Beethoven String Quartets refer to 16 quartets encompassing 70 single movements that Beethoven composed throughout his lifetime. He completed his first String Quartet composition at the turn of the 19th century when he was almost 30 years old, and the last in 1826, shortly before his death. A string quartet is a musical ensemble of four musicians playing string instruments: two violins, the viola, and the cello.

For the study Rohrmeier and colleagues plowed through the scores of all 16 of Beethoven's String Quartets in digital and annotated form. The most time-consuming part of the work has been to generate the dataset based on ten thousands of annotations by music theoretical experts.

Resource - Beethoven - Music - Patterns - C

"We essentially generated a large digital resource from Beethoven's music scores to look for patterns," says Fabian C. Moss, first author of the PLOS ONE study.

When played, the String Quartets represent over 8 hours...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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