Music 253/CS 275a Winter 2023 Syllabus

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Music 253/CS 275a "Symbolic Musical Information"
Stanford University (Winter 2023).

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 1:30–2:50
Slack channel:
Customary Location: Braun Music Building, Rooms 131
Instructors: Eleanor Selfridge-Field (
Craig Stuart Sapp (
Office Hours: After class meetings and by appointment.
Credits: 2–4

Four-credits: class participation: 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/CS 275a, 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.
Covid information (Winter 2023): Masking remains in place. Please respect the Stanford rules. In case of quarantine or illness, please notify us at your earliest convenience. We are well equipped with videos of last year's classes and can schedule 1:1 appointments for labs.


See also Music 254/CS 275b Syllabus

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

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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. OAE phone (650) 723-1066 OAE website.
  4. Students in distress: Stanford offers an abundance of resources for students dealing with problems of a personal nature.
    1. Urgent support: (650) 723-3785 CAPS website
    2. Medical Services: (650) 498-2336 Vaden Health Services
    3. Crisis hotline: (650) 725-9955
    4. Title IX questions: (650) 497-4955