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Computational modeling of interval distributions in tonal space reveals paradigmatic stylistic changes in Western music history

Moss, Fabian C.; Lieck, Robert; Rohrmeier, Martin

Computational modeling of interval distributions in tonal space reveals paradigmatic stylistic changes in Western music history Thumbnail


Authors

Fabian C. Moss

Martin Rohrmeier



Abstract

Diachronic stylistic changes in music are to a large extent affected by composers’ different choices, for example regarding the usage of tones, intervals, and harmonies. Analyzing the tonal content of pieces of music and observing them over time is thus informative about large-scale historical changes. In this study, we employ a computational model that formalizes music-theoretic conceptualizations of tonal space, and use it to infer the most likely interval distributions for pieces in a large corpus of music, represented as so-called ‘bags of tonal pitch classes’. Our results show that tonal interval relations become increasingly complex, that the interval of the perfect fifth dominates compositions for centuries, and that one can observe a stark increase in the usage of major and minor thirds during the 19th century, which coincides with the emergence of extended tonality. In complementing prior research on the historical evolution of tonality, our study thus demonstrates how example-based music theory can be informed by quantitative analyses of large corpora and computational models.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 13, 2024
Online Publication Date May 28, 2024
Publication Date May 28, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 12, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jun 12, 2024
Journal Humanities and Social Sciences Communications
Publisher Springer Nature
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 1
Article Number 684
DOI https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-024-03168-1
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/2471689

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