Searching for Patterns
The grep and egrep commands are useful for identifying patterns that occur on single lines. As we saw in Chapter 19, the context command can be used to amalgamate groups of successive data tokens on a single line — and so facilitate searching for sequential patterns using grep or egrep. For many tasks, the combination of context and grep provides the most convenient way to search for user-specified patterns. However, not all patterns can be conveniently identified using this approach. In this chapter we will introduce two additional tools that are intended to search directly for sequential patterns without having to use context to create pseudo-simultaneous collections.
The patt Command
The patt command may be regarded as a two-dimensional version of grep. Like grep, patt searches for lines that match user-specified regular expressions. However, unlike grep, patt can search for a sequence of records that match a sequence of user-specified regular expressions. Specifically, patt will look for an input line that matches the first (of potential many) user-specified regular expression. Then patt will determine whether the following input line matches the second user-specified regular expression … and so on, until the entire sequence of the user-specified regular expressions are exhausted. A pattern match is deemed to occur only if all of the successive regular expressions match a contiguous sequence of input lines.
The operation of patt is easier to describe through an example. Consider the following input using the German Tonhöhe pitch designations described in Chapter 4. Recall that the Tonh system of pitch names allows Bach to spell his name (B=B-flat; H=B-natural). Less well-known is the fact that Dmitri Shostakovich also used the German pitch system to create motives based on his name: D-S-C-H (S=Es=E-flat). (The German transliteration of the cyrillic is Schostakowitsch.)
**Tonh D4 Es4 C4 H3 *-
Suppose we were looking for possible instances of D-S-C-H. The patt command requires a template file that
contains one or more successive regular expressions. A suitable
template file (named
dmitri.krn) would be as follows:
D E C H
We would invoke the search as follows:
patt -f dmitri.krn inputfile
The f option is mandatory: it conveys to patt the name of the template file used in the search.
In the default operation, patt simply outputs a global comment identifying the location of any matching segments. One global comment is output for each matching pattern. In the above case, the output would be as follows:
!! Pattern found at line 2 of file Tonh
The patt command will also identify any overlapping patterns. For example, suppose we had an input containing an ostinato figure in minor thirds:
Example 21.1. ‘DSCH’ Ostinato.
If we applied the above patt command to
ostinato file, we would get the following output:
!! Pattern found at line 8 of file ostinato !! Pattern found at line 11 of file ostinato
We can instruct patt to output specific instances of the pattern using the e (echo) option. Consider the following command:
patt -f dmitri -e ostinato
The resulting output would be:
!! Pattern found at line 4 of file ostinato **Tonh **Tonh H3 D4 C4 Es4 C4 Es4 H3 D4 *- *- !! Pattern found at line 7 of file ostinato **Tonh **Tonh H3 D4 C4 Es4 C4 Es4 H3 D4 *- *-
Notice that each instance of the found pattern is output as a stand-alone humdrum “mini-encoding,” complete with initial exclusive interpretations and terminating spine-path terminators.
Example 21.2. J.S. Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol. 1, Fugue 2.
Most Baroque composers were fond of ending works written in minor keys on the tonic major chord — the so-called tierce de picardie or Picardy Third. Example 21.2 shows a typical example from the final measures of Bach’s second fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier, vol. 1. Suppose that we wanted to identify all works in some repertory that end with a tierce de picardie. We need to search for a raised third scale degree in close proximity to the end of a work for those works in a minor key. First we might identify those works in minor keys. The following grep command will search all files in the current directory for a tandem interpretation indicating a minor key. Recall that minor keys are identified by an asterisk followed by a lower-case pitch-letter name, followed by an optional accidental, followed by the colon character. The l option will list all files that containing a matching record:
grep -l '^\*[a-g][-#]*:' *
Recall that the deg command is mode
sensitive, whereas the solfa command is
mode insensitive. That is, in the key of C major, deg will represent the pitch E as
3 and in C
minor deg will represent the pitch E
3+. By contrast, the solfa
command will represent E as
mi whether the mode is major or
In order to locate picardy thirds, we can look for raised mediants
in the deg representation. Specifically,
we can look for a raised mediant pitch immediately prior to a double
barline. Our template file (dubbed “
picardy.txt”) might look as
Notice that the plus sign has been placed in square brackets. The patt command accepts only extended regular expressions. The plus sign is a metacharacter that normally indicates “one or more instances.” So placing it in square brackets causes the special meaning to be escaped.
In order to search for such picardy thirds, we should translate each input file to the deg representation, and then search for raised mediants immediately prior to a double bar:
deg inputfile.krn | patt -f picardy.txt
A problem with this search strategy is that it assumes that the raised third will occur in the final sonority prior to the double barline. One possible confound might be the presence of one or more rests following the final chord. This situation is evident in Fugue No. 4 from the second volume of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier:
Example 21.3. J.S. Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol. 2, Fugue 4.
!!!COM: Bach, Johann Sebastian !!!OTL: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Volume 2, Fugue 4 **kern **kern **kern *clefF4 *clefG2 *clefG2 *M12/16 *M12/16 *M12/16 *k[f#c#g#d#] *k[f#c#g#d#] *k[f#c#g#d#] *c#: *c#: *c#: =70 =70 =70 16E 8.f#] 8b# 16D# . . 16E . 16g# 16FF## 8e 4.cc# 16GG# . . 16AAn 16d# . 4.GG# 16e . . 16a . . 16g# . . 16f# 8.b# . 16e . . 16d# . =71 =71 =71 8.CC# 8.e# 8.cc# 8.r 8.r 8.r 4.r 4.r 4.r == == == *- *- *-
The patt command provides a s option that allows the user to skip or
ignore certain records in the input. Any regular expression can be
given as a parameter for the s option.
In the following pipeline, we have instruction patt to skip over any records matching the
r (the kern rest
deg inputfile.krn | patt -s r -f picardy.txt
Even ignoring rests may not be sufficient to identify the raised third near the double barline. For example, if any other note from the tonic chord follows after the raised third, then the third will appear several records prior to the double barline. We can solve this problem by using the ditto command discussed in Chapter 15; ditto can be used to propagate the raised third through the sustained final chord. Our revised pipeline is:
deg bach.krn | ditto -s = | patt -s r -f picardy.txt
A similar approach can be used to identify consecutive fifths or
octaves between two voices. A template file (dubbed
consist of the following pattern:
In order to identify consecutive fifths, we might extract two parts of interest, and then translate to the hint harmonic-interval representation. The c option for hint collapses compound intervals to their non-compound equivalents so consecutive twelfths, nineteenths, etc. will also be identified. In the following command pipeline, notice the use of the s option for patt in order to skip barlines. This ensures that crossing a barline does not result in a failure to identify a consecutive fifth.
extract -i '*Ibass,*Itenor' Fux | hint -c | patt -s = -f 5ths
Sometimes patterns will tend to be obscured by the presence of other information. For example, suppose we want to identify possible Landini cadences such as the cadence shown in Example 21.4. Landini cadences are common in much 14th century polyphony including works by Machaut, Caserta, Dufay, Ciconia, as well as Landini. One characteristic of the Landini cadence is the distinctive three-note ti → la → do in the upper-most part. The submediant pitch is interposed between the leading-tone and the tonic. A second characteristic of the Landini cadence is the harmonic relationship between the highest and lowest voices. Three intervals are formed: sixth → fifth → octave. Either one or both of these characteristics might be used to help identify this distinctive cadential formula.
Example 21.4. Francesco Landini, Excerpt from Non avrà ma’ pietà.
Below is a kern encoding of the final two measures along with corresponding hint and deg spines. The hint spine was generated using hint l in order to generate intervals with respect to the lowest pitch.
!!!COM: Landini, Francesco **kern **kern **kern **hint **deg **deg **deg *clefF4 *clefG2 *clefG2 * * * * *M3/4 *M3/4 *M3/4 *M3/4 *M3/4 *M3/4 *M3/4 = = = = = = = 4A 4e 8e P5 P5 v2 v6 ^6 . . 8f - . . ^7- 4B- 4d 8g M3 M6 ^3- v5 ^1 . . 4f# - . . v7 4A 4c# . M3 v2 v4+ . . . 8e - . . v6 = = = = = = = 2.G 2.d 2.g P5 P8 v1 ^5 ^1 == == == == == == == *- *- *- *- *- *- *-
Notice that hint has failed to generate the passing interval forming the perfect fifth between the E and the A. This can be remedied by using ditto to duplicate all of the pitches. This will cause hint to generate all of the passing harmonic intervals. The revised hint spine is given below.
!!!COM: Landini, Francesco **kern **kern **kern **hint **deg **deg **deg *clefF4 *clefG2 *clefG2 * * * * *M3/4 *M3/4 *M3/4 *M3/4 *M3/4 *M3/4 *M3/4 = = = = = = = 4A 4e 8e P5 P5 v2 v6 ^6 . . 8f P5 m6 . . ^7- 4B- 4d 8g M3 M6 ^3- v5 ^1 . . 4f# M3 A5 . . v7 4A 4c# . M3 M6 v2 v4+ . . . 8e M3 P5 . . v6 = = = = = = = 2.G 2.d 2.g P5 P8 v1 ^5 ^1 == == == == == == == *- *- *- *- *- *- *-
One way to identify Landini cadences is to use the following
harmonic-interval template file (dubbed
6 5 8
Using this template, we can identify Landini cadences as follows. (Notice the use of s \^= to skip barlines.)
ditto -s ^= input | hint -l | patt -s ^= -f LandCadence.txt
It is possible that the 6-5-8 figured bass might arise in non-cadential
situations, so a more circumspect template might also include some
scale-degree movements as well. The following template file (dubbed
Landini-Cadence) combines both the harmonic-interval and scale-degree
[Mm]6 P5.*v6 P8.*\^1
Using this more sophisticated pattern template, a suitable sequence of commands would be the following:
ditto -s ^= inputfile | hint -l > temp1 deg inputfile > temp2 assemble temp1 temp2 | patt -s ^= -f Landini-Cadence.txt
In general, patt templates can be used to specify both concurrent conditions as well as dynamic or temporal conditions. This allows users to define patterns involving a multitude of conditions involving many different types of data.
Using patt’s Tag Option
So far, we have seen that patt provides two kinds of output. In the default operation, patt outputs a simple global comment each time it finds a matching segment in the input. With the e option, patt will also echo the specific passage(s) found. In addition, patt provides a third type of output using the t option.
When the t option is invoked, patt will output the original input, plus an addition patt spine. The patt spine typically consists of mostly null tokens. However, each time the input matches the sought pattern, a user-defined “tag” will appear in the patt spine. Consider the following example.
Suppose we are interested in identifying deceptive cadences in Bach’s chorale harmonizations. Imagine that we already have a harm spine containing a Roman numeral harmonic analysis. There are different ways of defining a deceptive cadence, but a frequent definition is that it involves a dominant chord followed by a submediant chord in a cadential context. In the case of Bach’s chorale harmonizations, cadences are readily identified by the pause symbol. Our search template might look as follows:
This template means: “look for an upper-case letter
at the beginning of a line that is followed by either the end of
$ or by a character other than the upper-case letter
I. This record will be followed by a record containing either
VI followed by a semicolon.”
When invoking the patt command, we can specify our preferred output tag along with the t option as follows:
extract -i '**harm' bwv269.krn | patt -f template -t deceptive
**harm **patt I . I . ii7 . V deceptive vi; . V . I . IV . IV . I . V; .
In Chapter 26 we will learn how to collapse several spines into a single spine. This will allow us to assemble the results from several “passes” using patt — one pass for each type of cadence. For example, we could collapse several tagged outputs to produce a single spine that identifies all of the various types of cadences:
**harm **cadences I . I . ii7 . V deceptive vi; . V . I . IV . IV . I half V; .
There are no restrictions as to the types of tags that can be generated by patt. A user might tag the beginning of motivic or thematic statements, various harmonic progressions, variation techniques, fingering patterns, quotations or allusions, stylistic clichés, etc. In Chapter 35 we will use the t option to label different set forms for statements of a twelve-tone row, such as primes, inversions, retrogrades, and retrograde inversions. We will use suitable tags to identify the specific transpositions: P0, I7, R11, RI8, etc.
Matching Multiple Records Using the patt Command
Twelve-tone music raises several special issues for sequential pattern matching. For example, it is common in serial music to collapse segments of a tone-row in order to create vertical chords. Consider the following excerpt from Ernst Krenek’s suite for solo 'cello. The tone row consists of the ordered pitches: D, G-flat, F, D-flat, C, B, E-flat, A, B-flat, A-flat, E, G.
Example 21.5. Ernst Krenek, Opus 84 Suite for Violoncello; mov. 1, measures 28-30.
Using a pitch-class representation we would search for the sequence:
2 6 5 1 0 11 3 9 10 8 4 7
Due to the diads, however, the corresponding pitch-class representation for the above Krenek passage would be:
**pc 2 6 5 1 0 = 3 11 9 10 10 8 = 7 4 *-
The m option for patt invokes a “multi-record matching” mode. In this mode, patt attempts to match as many successive regular expressions in the template file as possible for a given input record, before continuing with the next input and template records. In this way, several records in the template file may possibly match a single input record. In the above case, the tone-row template will be matched and the `P0' tag issued if the following command is issued:
patt -f tonerow.txt -t P0 -m Krenek.krn
The pattern Command
Not all patterns can be identified using patt.
The Humdrum pattern command permits an
additional regular expression feature that is especially useful in
musical applications. Specifically, pattern
permits the defining of patterns spanning more than one line or
record. Record-repetition operators are specified by following the
regular expression with a tab — followed by either
?. For example, consider the following Humdrum-extension regular
X + Y * Z ?
When the metacharacters
? appear at the end of a
record, preceded by a tab character, they pertain to the number of
records, rather than the number of repetitions of the expression
within a record. The first record of the regular expression (
will match one or more successive lines each containing the letter
X. The second record of the regular expression (
match zero or more subsequent lines containing the letter
The third record of the regular expression (
Z<tab>?) will match zero
or one line containing the letter
Z. Hence, the above
multi-record regular expression would match an input such as the
following: three successive lines containing the letter
followed by eight successive lines containing the letter
followed by a single line containing the letter
the above regular expression would match an input containing one
line containing the letter
Record-repetition operators can be used in conjunction with all of
the other regular expression features. For example, the following
regular expression matches one or more successive kern data records containing the pitch
(naturals only) followed optionally by a single
by one or more records containing one or more pitches from an A
major triad — the last of which must end a phrase:
[Gg]+[^#-]+ [Gg]+#[^#]? ([Aa]+|([Cc]+#)|[Ee]+)[^#-] * (}.*([Aa]+|([Cc]+#)|[Ee]+)[^#-]))|(([Aa]+|([Cc]+#)|[Ee]+)[^#-].*})
Patterns of Patterns
Music often exhibits hierarchical structures where particular types
of patterns may be embedded in other patterns, or where low-level
patterns join together to form higher-level patterns. As we have
seen, the t (tag) option for the patt command allows a new output spine to be
generated. This spine contains user-defined labels marking the
beginning of each found pattern. The labels can contain any
user-defined text string such as
triplet figuration, or
As we will see in Chapter 26, the contents of several spines can be amalgamated to form a single spine. This means that the results for several independent pattern searches can be assembled into a single “pattern” spine. Several pattern spines may be created that related to patterns found at different hierarchical levels, or patterns found using different search methods. Of course, these pattern-spines themselves can be used as input to further pattern searches thus providing unbounded possibilities for searching for patterns of patterns.
Consider, for example, the following template for the pattern command:
Theme 1 (tonic) + Bridge * Theme 2 (tonic) + Coda ?
The template reads “one or more instances of
Theme 1 (tonic),
followed by zero or more instances of
Bridge, followed by one or
more instances of
Theme 2 (tonic), followed by zero or one instance
Coda.” This template might be used by pattern to identify a Recapitulation. Together
with outputs from parallel searches for
the results of a
Recapitulation search might similarly be amalgamated
and used as an input for a higher level search for works exhibiting
a sonata-allegro structure.
In this chapter and previous chapters we have identified several search-related tools, including the UNIX grep and egrep commands as well as the Humdrum patt and pattern commands. Each of these tools has different strengths and weaknesses and it is not always clear which tool is best for a given task. When searching, don’t forget to consider how context, humsed, rid and other tools might facilitate the searching task. In future chapters will will consider how “similarity” tools such as correl and simil can contribute to more sophisticated pattern searches.