music21 Tools

This course uses music21, a set of open source music informatics tools.

music21 helps scholars and other active listeners answer questions about music quickly and simply. If you’ve ever asked yourself a question like, “I wonder how often Bach does that” or “I wish I knew which band was the first to use these chords in this order,” or “I’ll bet we’d know more about Renaissance counterpoint (or Indian ragas or post-tonal pitch structures or the form of minuets) if I could write a program to automatically write more of them,” then music21 can help you with your work.

music21 project website

music21 blog

Installing music21

Before the first class session, students should install Eclipse and music21, following these instructions.

NB: Windows users will want to install Python first.

More About music21

Conference paper on music21: Cuthbert, Michael Scott, Beth Hadley, Lars Johnson and Christopher Reyes. “Interoperable Digital Musicology Research via music21 Web Applications. (PDF)Conference on Service-oriented Architectures (SOAs) for the Humanities: Solutions and Impacts. Hamburg, Germany, July 2012.

Chang, Derek. “$500,000 Grant for Music Research at MIT: Michael Scott Cuthbert uses Computational Methods to Study Western Music.” The Tech (MIT), February 24, 2012.

Neyfakh, Leon. “When Computers Listen to Music, What do They Hear?” Boston Globe, July 08, 2012. [Subtitle: “A New Generation of Scholars is Turning Music into Data—and Uncovering Truths Beyond Human Ears”]

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2012
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples
Written Assignments with Examples
Problem Sets