Voice-leading prototypes and harmonic function in two chorale corpora

Ian Quinn, Panayotis Mavromatis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We describe a data representation for voice leading between two sonorities in a chorale texture, and a similarity measure for these voice leadings. These tools are used in an empirical study of the relationship between voice leading and harmonic function in a corpus of Bach chorales and a corpus of Lutheran chorales from a hundred years earlier. Common voice-leading types in the corpora are subjected to a cluster analysis that is readily interpreted in terms of harmonic functional syntax. We are thus able not only to read a theory of harmony directly out of a corpus, but to do so without building in a priori notions of chord structure, rootedness, or even key. The cluster analysis also clarifies important syntactic differences between the pre-tonal (modal) corpus and the Bach (tonal) corpus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMathematics and Computation in Music - Third International Conference, MCM 2011, Proceedings
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2011
Event3rd International Conference on Mathematics and Computation in Music, MCM 2011 - Paris, France
Duration: Jun 15 2011Jun 17 2011

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume6726 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other3rd International Conference on Mathematics and Computation in Music, MCM 2011


  • Clustering
  • Corpus Analysis
  • Harmonic Function
  • Modality
  • Tonality
  • Voice Leading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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