Music 254/CS 275b Spring 2022 Syllabus

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Music 254/CS 275b "Computational Music Analysis "
Stanford University (Spring 2021).

This music information retrieval course (previously listed as "Music Query, Analysis, and Style Simulation") builds on the foundation of Music 253/CS 275A (Symbolic Musical Information). Using an open-source analysis platform (such as the Humdrum Toolkit (unix/bash shell), Humdrum Extras (C++), or Music21 (Python), or their preferred programming language/environment) students plan and design their own applications involving symbolic musical data.

The first four weeks cover basic areas of music analysis and retrieval and introduce basic principles of using the Humdrum Toolkit. Students may be assigned individual reading assignments pertinent to their research topic areas. The remaining six weeks are spent on individual project development, with weekly reports and discussions. Extensive help is available in the lab during hours allotted to class time. Students give verbal and written reports on their research at the end of the quarter. Some projects may be appropriate for continuation in independent-study modules.

For class Zoom link
Please contact or
Meeting times: Tuesdays & Thursdays 1:30–3:00
Location: Online
Instructors: Eleanor Selfridge-Field (
Craig Sapp(
Office Hours: after class and by appointment on Zoom/Skype/Google Hangouts
Credits: 2–4

25% class participation, 75% project

  • Project proposal: 2+ pages, due Thurs. 23 April 2021
  • Project progress report: 4+ pages, Thurs. 14 May 2021
  • Project presentation in class: Thursday 4 June 2021
  • Project writeup: 10–20 pages
    • Graduating on 14 June 2021: Due on 8 June 2021 10 p.m (exact deadline T.B.D.).
    • Continuing at Stanford after 14 June 2021: Due on 11 June 2021 10 p.m (exact deadline T.B.D.).
Website: 254 Overview of topics presented in Music 254.
Prerequisites: Completion of Music 253/CS 275b, or demonstrated ability to use notation and sound software and associated requirements.
Textbook: E. Selfridge-Field, ed., Beyond MIDI: The Handbook of Musical Codes (MIT Press, 1997). Available online by permission of the publisher.


Go to week: Harmony 1 | Melody 2 | Rhythm 3 | Harmony 4 | RegEx 5 | Programming 6 | 7 | 8

See also Music 253/CS 275a Syllabus

Week 1

Week Dates Topics
29 March, 31 March 2022


Harmony-related Humdrum tools

  • hint: Harmonic intervals.
  • tntype: twelve-tone chord prototypes.
  • key: Krumhansl-Schmuckler key-finding algorithm.
  • keycor: generalization of key command.
  • sonority: triadic chord descriptions of sonorities.

Performance analysis tool

Homework for new students

Week 2

Week Dates Topics
6 Apr 2021

Lectures: Approaches to melodic and other musical-similarity assessment

Labs: Rhythm and score manipulation tools

  • Rhythm Tools available in Humdrum
    • timebase: create uniform duration for each Humdrum file data line.
    • beat: label metric beats in Humdrum file.
    • gettime: calculate performance time in seconds (according to tempo markings).
    • thrux: expand repeats to performance sequence
    • minrhy: identify minimum integral rhythmic unit in score
    • assemble: merge parts into a single score
    • partjoin: automation script to merge parts into a single score (preserves grace notes, uses minrhy and timebase)
    • ditto/dittox: resolve null tokens
    • hgrep: search for patterns in Humdrum file data.
2 8 Apr 2021

Data/Data entry

  • Data/Data entry in Humdrum (PDF slides)
    • KernScores: digital library of scores in the **kern format
      • [1] introduction to KernScores
      • [2] shortcuts to data in KernScores
      • [3] browse collections in KernScores
    • [4]: Josquin Research Project: digital library of early Renaissance polyphony
    • xml2hum: MusicXML to Humdrum converter
    • mid2hum: MIDI to Humdrum converter (works in many cases, but better to convert MIDI first to MusicXML then import).

Regular Expressions (Text-based searching)

Week 3

Week Dates Topics
13 & 15 Apr 2021

Cope, Emmy, Emily Howell Lectures (Style Synthesis)

Melody Lab

  • Melody Tools available in Humdrum
    • melody tools:
    • support tools:
      • kern: remove rhythms from note data.
      • myank Yank measures from a full score.
      • extract: extract spines from Humdrum file.
      • extractx: Humdrum Extras version of extract
      • hgrep: Humdrum-aware greep.
      • autostem: automatic stemming of notes.
    • unix:
      • head: show only starting lines of text.
      • grep: search text for generalized regular expressions.
      • egrep: enhanced grep (adds additional wildcards).
      • sed: Stream editor (search and replace).
    • graphics (unix):
      • pstopnm: a converter from PostScript to bitmaps.
      • convert: Imagemagick tool for manipulating images.
      • ps2pdf: convert PostScript into PDF files.

Week 4

Week Dates Topics
20 Apr 2021

Lectures: Complex Melodic Processes; Search Effectiveness and Modeling

Humdrum parsing in C++
Harmony II

4 22 Apr 2021

Search Effectiveness

Humdrum & MIDI


Week 5

Week Dates Topics
27 April 2021

Patterning and Coherence in Music

  • Guest lecture by Heinz Roggenkemper, "What is holding back optical music recognition?" Google slides

Regular Expressions

5 29 April 2021

Week 6

Week Dates Topics
4 May 2021

Compositional schemata

Counterpoint II

Rhythm and Meter

Programming for Humdrum files

6 6 May 2021

Sonority distributions by bass-line scale degrees

Week 7

Week Dates Topics
7 11 May 2021

Recent developments in MIR

7 13 May 2021

Recent Work in Harmonic Analysis

Week 8

Week Dates Topics
8 18 May 2021

Search Engines for Music

Project development

8 20 May 2021

Project development

Week 9

Week Dates Topics
9a 25 & 27 May 2021



  • MEI (Music Encoding Initiative) Release 2.0

Week 10

Week Dates Topics
10 3 June 2020

Project presentations in class.

  • Submit to Craig and Eleanor before class starts.
11 7 June 2020

Project write-ups for students taking a degree in June 2021.

12 11 June 2021

Project write-ups for students continuing at Stanford.

Other topics/resources

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. Project writeup: by 11 p.m. 7 or 11 June 2021 by 11p.
  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).
  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