Metallica to Mozart: Comparison

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Mozart to Metallica: A Comparison of Musical Sequences and Similarities Stuart Cunningham, Vic Grout & Harry Bergen
Centre for Applied Internet Research (CAIR), University of Wales, NEWI Plas Coch Campus, Mold Road, Wrexham, LL11 2AW, North Wales, UK Tel: +44(0)1978 293583 Fax: +44(0)1978 293168
s.cunningham@newi.ac.uk | v.grout@newi.ac.uk | h.x.bergen@web.de Abstract
Musical composition is a creative art, but is restricted
by the limitations of the finite musical information that
can be expressed. Though notation allows expressive
qualities to be applied to notes, composition is limited
within the realms of the octave; therefore only a limited
number of combinations of musical notes are permitted
within a measure or musical piece. This restraint
combined with trends of the human creative psyche to be
influenced by factors in the surrounding environment,
means that many musical pieces, though perceived as
being greatly different in terms of their style, are often
very similarly constructed on a strictly notational basis.
This paper uses simple techniques to attempt to provide
initial examination of musical pieces, which are perceived
to be vastly different in style, and to compare any
similarities of sequences of musical notes between them.
This paper contrasts similarities between musical
pieces varying across two extremes of musical genre.
Results from this investigation show that there are distinct levels of similarity in musical composition between music
perceived as being very different; traditional classical
music, and more contemporary popular rock.

1. Introduction
Musicology and analysis of musical notation has been
a field that has long been studied and the analysis of
musical pieces to explore patterns and structure has been
of particular interest to both music technologists and
composers alike [1, 2, 3]. The number of different styles
and genres of music has also grown over time, as both
technology and expressive composition has developed to
assist the writing of original music. However, although the
tools for creation and expression of musical information
have developed, the actual language of music has
remained static. All music created is restricted within the
realms of the musical notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B and
the modifications of these notes (lower and higher
octaves, sharps, flats, natural, duration, etc.). Although
this may seem a large quantity of different possibilities for composition of sequences limited within these realms,
over hundreds of years of music composition it would be
an acceptable assumption that sequences of notes can be
found within many different original compositions, of
varying genres. Have all the songs already been written?
Or at least, more specifically, have all the sequences been
written? In which case, music composition is now limited
to creative re-arranging of these sequences? This paper
analyses several pieces of music, ranging dramatically
from the realms of classical music to rock and metal, to
demonstrate the existence of similar sequences of music,
even between such genres of music, perceived as being
dramatically different.

2. Music Notation Searching
Written music score can be stored electronically in a
variety of formats, and computers are excellent at
performing simple, repetitive tasks, such as comparisons.
This means that the development of software has
produced a tool which can be fed music score as input,
and a number of comparisons can be performed on it. By
doing this, it is possible to tailor a search to look for
similarities between two musical pieces. Performing
searches on a corpus of musical pieces, and with various
search options, should reveal trends and interesting detail
about music composition, and how it may have developed
and grown.
An application was written in Java which processes the
musical score information that is present in a MusicXML
file. MusicXML is a format...
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