Instrumental idiom in the 16th century: embellishment patterns in arrangements of vocal music

Lewis, David; Crawford, Tim and Müllensiefen, Daniel. 2016. Instrumental idiom in the 16th century: embellishment patterns in arrangements of vocal music. Proceedings of the 17th conference of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval, pp. 524-530. [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Much surviving 16th-century instrumental music consists of arrangements (‘intabulations’) of vocal music, in tablature for solo lute. Intabulating involved deciding what to omit from a score to fit the instrument, and making it fit under the hand. Notes were usually added as embellishments to the original plain score, using idiomatic patterns, typically at cadences, but often filling simple intervals in the vocal parts with faster notes.
Here we test whether such patterns are both characteristic of lute intabulations as a class (vs original lute music) and of different genres within that class. We use patterns identified in the musicological literature to search two annotated corpora of encoded lute music using the SIA(M)ESE algorithm. Diatonic patterns occur in many chromatic forms, accidentals being added depending how the arranger applied the conventions of musica ficta. Rhythms must be applied at three different scales as notation is inconsistent across the repertory. This produced over 88,000 short melodic queries to search in two corpora totalling just over 6,000 encodings of lute pieces.
We show that our method clearly discriminates between intabulations and original music for the lute (p < .001); it also can distinguish sacred and secular genres within the vocal models (p < .001).

Item Type:



Lute music, instrumental music, renaissance music, elaboration, ornamentation

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1 July 2016Published Online
13 May 2016Accepted


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Date Deposited:

22 Aug 2016 09:54

Last Modified:

21 Dec 2022 14:27

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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