Sample Research Projects

Since its public release in 1993, the Humdrum Toolkit has been adopted by musicologists pursuing a wide variety of research interests. Innumerable scholarly projects have relied on Humdrum, and at least three dozen published articles have resulted. Here are a few discoveries that scholars have been made using the Humdrum Toolkit.

Zarlino's Rules for Cantus Firmus Canons Traditional Korean Scales Rhythm in Gregorian Chant Idiomaticism in Trumpet Music JRing Analysis Project Melodic Arch in European Folksongs Complexity in Hadyn String Quartets Classifying Musical Textures Patterns of Dynamic Markings Cajun Button Accordian Music

Dr. Denis Collins of Stanford University used the Humdrum Toolkit to compare canonic compositional rules by Zarlino, Berardi, and Nanino. Collins studied how well the canonic practice actually conforms to the different theoretical prescriptions. He found that, although Berardi's and Nanino's rules were extensions to Zarlino's work, Zarlino's original rules provided more succinct and more precise descriptions of the canonic repertoire.

Nam Unjung from the University of Hawaii at Manoa used Humdrum to examine scale systems in Korean court music. Using a repertoire of recorded p'iri music, Nam was able to represent pitches both according to the traditional Korean designations as well as using frequency and cents. She used Humdrum to establish which works were performed in different modes and which were performed using different tunings.

Dr. Matthew Royal of the University of Western Ontario used the Humdrum Toolkit to investigate the relationship between melodic accent and syllable/mellismatic text relationships in Gregorian chant. He found evidence that the chant literature is not organized in a way consistent with rhythmic or metric performance.

Jonathan Berec of the University of Waterloo used Humdrum to investigate idiomaticism in trumpet and cornet works written by virtuoso performers and non-trumpet players. Using a model of performance mechanics, Berec was able to identify those works which are most idiomatic to the instrument.

Dr. Andreas Kornstädt of the University of Hamburg created a music analysis application that allows musicologists and theorists to do sophisticated "mark-up" of scores, such as Leitmotivic analysis of Wagner operas. A notable feature of JRing is the intuitive graphic user interface which replicates an "analytic desktop". Humdrum is used as the underlying analytic engine. Further information is available.

The late Dr. Helmut Schaffrath of the University of Essen supervised the encoding of thousands of European folksongs from ethnomusicological sources. In 1995 Schaffrath's database was translated to the Humdrum format. Averaging successive pitches in thousands of phrases revealled a marked melodic arch shape.

Sandra Serafini of the University of Washington used the Humdrum Toolkit to investigate the effect of tempo on the organization of Haydn string quartets. She found evidence consistent with Daniel Berlyne's theory of optimum complexity: as the tempo increases, rhythmic and harmonic complexity is reduced.

Jasba Simpson of the Walt Disney `Imagineering' research center has used the Humdrum Toolkit to create a two-dimensional "musical texture map." Simpson used a large database of existing works and showed how a computer algorithm could be used to automatically classify the works as predominantly monophonic, homophonic, or polyphonic in texture.

Dr. David Huron of the Ohio State University has used the Humdrum Toolkit to investigate asymmetries in notated musical dynamics. For the vast majority of composers, crescendos are more frequent and last longer than dimineundos. Of the composers studied, Beethoven is the composer with the greatest dynamic asymmetry. Carl Nielsen is the composer with the least dynamic asymmetry.

Dr. Mark Dewitt of the University of California, Berkeley is using the Humdrum Toolkit to investigate how the melodic and harmonic organization of Cajun music has been influenced by the button accordian. Dewitt is able to encode his own accordian tablature transcriptions directly into Humdrum.

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