Music 253/CS 275a Winter 2021 Syllabus

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Music 253/CS 275a "Symbolic Musical Information"
Stanford University (Winter 2021).

This music-information introduction surveys symbolic frameworks and methods for a wide range of applications. Areas covered include advanced notation systems, optical music recognition, data conversion and synchronization, and the internal structure of data files. The course is preparatory for Music 254/CS 275B (Computational Musical Analysis), which focuses on projects requiring a working knowledge of notation and familiarity with sound software.

Meeting times: Tuesday & Thursdays 12:30–1:50
Virtual Location (2021): Enrolled students will receive Zoom invitation
Slack channel:
Customary Location: Braun Music Building, Rooms 131, 128 (lab entry from Room 129)
Instructors: Eleanor Selfridge-Field (
Craig Stuart Sapp (
Office Hours: By appointment.
Credits: 2–4

Four-credits: class attendance: 25%; weekly assignments: 50%; take-home final essay: 25%.
Three-credit/no final essay: class attendance: 33%; weekly assignments: 67%.
Two-credit/no final essay: choices negotiable (homework assignments selected in consultation with instructors).

Website: Overview of individual topics presented in Music 253, and syllabus.
Prerequisites: Ability to read standard music notation. Knowledge of central concepts of tonal music theory (see Tutorial).
Textbook: E. Selfridge-Field, ed., Beyond MIDI: The Handbook of Musical Codes (MIT Press, 1997). Available online by permission of the publisher.
Special circumstances (Winter 2021) : Topics may be adjusted to accommodate changing circumstances. We are not planning on a take-home final, but 4-credit students may be required to do other work earlier in the quarter. This will be negotiated early in the quarter.


See also Music 254/CS 275b Syllabus

Go to week: 1 | 2 | MIDI 3 | 4 | SCORE 5 | 6 | MuseData 7 | XML 8 | Humdrum 9 | 10

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

General Policies and University Rules

General policies and university rules:

  1. Delivery times:
    1. Assignments: by the start of the class for which they are due.
    2. Final exam: by 11 p.m. of the assigned date.
  2. Honor code: We will act and expect you to act according to the Stanford Honor Code.
  3. Students with disabilities: Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) located within the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). SDRC staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is being made. Students should contact the SDRC as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone 723-1066), URL
  4. Students in distress: Stanford offers an abundance of resources for students dealing with problems of a personal nature.
    1. Confidential support: (650) 736-6933
    2. Crisis hotline: (650) 725-9955
    3. Title IX questions: (650) 497-4955