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Digital Tools for Musicology

In all arts and humanities disciplines there are areas of enquiry that more or less lend themselves to computational methods of research and the field of music is no exception. For the purposes of the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), the fields encompassed by the discipline of ‘music’ include:

‘Composition and performance (including classical, commercial, and popular); history and criticism of music; ethnomusicology; theory and analysis, including empirical approaches; technology and computer applications.’

This is one way of breaking down the complex relations between sub-disciplines but one could equally talk in terms of the different domains of music as being either acoustic (physical), auditory (perceived) or graphemic (notated). Definitions can be problematized further by consideration at any length of concepts such as ‘composition’ and ‘performance’. The opportunities afforded by software to analyse and then reengineer existing music blur traditional definitions of the first term, whilst the latter has to support an enormous diversity of potential investigative approaches including: physiology, psychology, acoustics, material studies, cognition, perception etc…

Read the full Working Paper : (pdf)

Image: Courtesy of Chris Nash, taken at Methods Network Workshop, Advanced Technologies for Collaborative Performance, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, 20-21 December 2006.