Prof. Cuthbert and music21 in Boston Globe

The Sunday Boston Globe featured an article on Prof. Michael Cuthbert’s music21 and computational musicology.

Sunday Preview | Ideas

When computers listen to music, what do they hear?

A new generation of scholars is turning music into data—and uncovering truths beyond human ears.

By Leon Neyfakh |  Globe Staff  July 08, 2012


Developed by Cuthbert with Visiting Assistant Professor Christopher Ariza beginning in 2006, music21 is a suite of tools for computer-aided musicology. By simplifying the programming tasks needed to work with musical scores, it allows scholars to quickly and simply answer such questions as: How common are certain pitches in a Chopin Mazurka? and, How closely does the spacing of notes in the music of Aaron Copland approximate the spacing of overtones in the harmonic series?

Cuthbert created the program to help him answer his own research questions concerning how European musical styles evolved in the early 14th and 15th centuries, and it has been extraordinarily successful, with courses now taught in music21 at three universities.


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