Syntax-Based Analytic Reading of Musical Scores

Unknown author (1967-04-01)

As part of a larger research project in musical structure, a program has been written which "reads" scores encoded in an input language isomorphic to music notation. The program is believed to be the first of its kind. From a small number of parsing rules the program derives complex configurations, each of which is associated with a set of reference points in a numerical representation of a time-continuum. The logical structure of the program is such that all and only the defined classes of events are represented in the output. Because the basis of the program is syntactic (in the sense that parsing operations are performed on formal structures in the input string), many extensions and refinements can be made without excessive difficulty. The program can be applied to any music which can be represented in the input language. At present, however, it constitutes the first stage in the development of a set of analytic tools for the study of so-called atonal music, the revolutionary and little understood music which has exerted a decisive influence upon contemporary practice of the art. The program and the approach to automatic data-structuring may be of interest to linguists and scholars in other fields concerned with basic studies of complex structures produced by human beings.