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Beneath (or beyond) the surface Discovering voice-leading patterns with skip-grams

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Document pages: 26 pages

Abstract: Recurrent voice-leading patterns like the Mi-Re-Do compound cadence (MRDCC)rarely appear on the musical surface in complex polyphonic textures, so findingthese patterns using computational methods remains a tremendous challenge. Thepresent study extends the canonical n-gram approach by using skip-grams, whichinclude sub-sequences in an n-gram list if their constituent members occurwithin a certain number of skips. We compiled four data sets of Western tonalmusic consisting of symbolic encodings of the notated score and a recordedperformance, created a model pipeline for defining, counting, filtering, andranking skip-grams, and ranked the position of the MRDCC in every possiblemodel configuration. We found that the MRDCC receives a higher rank in the listwhen the pipeline employs 5 skips, filters the list by excluding n-gram typesthat do not reflect a genuine harmonic change between adjacent members, andranks the remaining types using a statistical association measure.

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