Music Decoding: Forgetting Perfection, Finding Results in Digital Musicology

Event Info

A Musicology Colloquium Talk by Michael Scott (MIT).

Abstract: Computational musicology’s emphasis on perfect digital editions that cannot be decoded or read by anyone outside of the projects themselves sets it far behind music analysis projects created by outsiders theorists, composers, scientists, and programmers—who understand that decoding music is at least as important as encoding it.  This talk will present results from imperfect encodings and un-critical editions to make claims about style and borrowing in popular and medieval music that are possible by prioritizing what we want to get out of digital humanities over what we want to put in.

The Musicology Program sponsors a Colloquium Series every year featuring distinguished guest scholars run by the graduate students in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.  Speakers are chosen from among graduate student nominations and may also include other scholars and special guests as available.  Regular attendance at colloquia is a responsibility of graduate students enrolled in the Musicology Program. The events are all free and open to the community. 

About the Artist:

Michael Scott Cuthbert, Faculty Director of Digital Humanities and Associate Professor of Music at the MIT, is a musicologist who has worked extensively on music of the 14 th  century, computational musicology, and digital humanities. Cuthbert’s research lab has produced “music21,” an open-source toolkit for computer-aided musical analysis, which has an installed user base in the tens of thousands. He directs MIT’s programs in Digital Humanities, which creates code to educate and solve problems across disciplines.  Cuthbert’s current book project covers sacred music in Italy during the Black Death and Great Schism.