Influences between music tradition over centuries
Tonalities is developing tools for the modal-tonal identification, exploration and classification of monophonic and polyphonic notated music from the Renaissance to the 20th century. The pilot has a broader societal and pedagogical dimension: it does not only impact research on the theory and evolution of the musical language but is also relevant for the understanding of music collections by students, performers, and informed music lovers. The recording industry is a potential target for the classification of works and the constitution of playlists.
The modal-tonal organisation of European music is decisive for its structural properties, its inner coherence, its dramatic plot and, ultimately, for its artistic meaning. Research over the past decades has led to a better understanding of the so-called common practice period (c.1650-1900). However, it has not been possible yet to identify underlying systems in music that lies outside this framework, i.e. modal music and music that neither belongs to modality nor is part of the tonal system.
Tonalities is building on previous studies that relate the musical system to its history (Dahlhaus 1968), that grant early music other conditions of truth than tonality (Wiering 2001), and that make use of statistical methods (Meeùs 2003). The pilot embraces the open linked data paradigm to reference large corpora of music made available in digital score libraries and to explore them through a quantitative-qualitative approach. This approach consists of modelling different theories - historical or contemporary, specific or general - and applying them to musical works through a dedicated interface combining machine learning and human annotations. It thus becomes possible to grasp how distinct theoretical viewpoints bring to light different - sometimes conflicting -, musical properties; to confront different analytical interpretations; to look “inside” both theories and works; to understand how both evolve in time in relation to each other; and ultimately to provide an argued, documented and authored modal-tonal classification of musical pieces.
In addition to external score libraries (Josquin Project, CRIM, Measuring Polyphony, Gesualdo Online, The Lost Voices Project), Tonalities is relying on the NEUMA score library placed at the centre of the Facets pilot as well as on the corpora produced and explored by Tunes and Interlink. The modelling of music theories is conducted in close connection with WP2. The extraction of musical patterns undertaken in Tonalities (cadences, melodic formulas, harmonic progressions, etc.) has strong affinities with WP3.
Christophe Guillotel-Nothmann (CNRS-IReMus)