Corpus-building and corpus-based musicology for the Early Modern Period: Towards a complete Electronic Corpus of Lute Music... and beyond

Lewis, David; Crawford, Tim and Badkobeh, Golnaz. 2023. 'Corpus-building and corpus-based musicology for the Early Modern Period: Towards a complete Electronic Corpus of Lute Music... and beyond'. In: International Colloquium of Computational and Cognitive Musicology 2023. Athens, Greece 22-24 June 2023. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Sustainable musicology must make use of as wide a set of contributors, and hear as many voices, as possible. As the online Electronic Corpus of Lute Music approaches its 20th year, a change of approach – embracing enthusiast and scholarly collections alike – is increasing the size of the encoded corpus tenfold and could allow us to provide metadata on almost all of the over 60,000 items in the known lute repertory. This approach brings challenges and limitations, as well as opportunities for scholarship beyond what has previously been possible.
The new sub-corpora have diverse editorial strategies and metadata quality, sometimes lacking basic information such as instrumental tuning. On the other hand, a combination of resources to give even 15-20% of the known repertory, combined with metadata to evaluate biases in that sample, could prove invaluable for corpus studies, and also help discover hitherto unrecognised connections and quotations between works.
As many vocal pieces of the period are now available online in digital facsimile, the lute corpus also presents a tantalising key for exploring the wider repertory of the period. Through Optical Music Recognition, we are gathering an expanding corpus of >500,000 pages transcribed from early-modern sources. Again, the nature of the material and how it has been gathered places limitations on the uses that can be made of it. Nonetheless, appropriate pattern discovery methods can support search and certain kinds of analysis.
Large-scale, cross-corpus analysis between vocal and instrumental works presents a particularly exciting opportunity, but requires adaptations to existing approaches. Lute tablature makes no distinction between the voices of a composition, making many conventional melodic features unavailable without further processing.
Building and using these corpora requires new approaches to computational musicology – not just algorithmic approaches, but also social and organisational – to ensure a strong future for corpus-based research.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

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23 June 2023Completed

Event Location:

Athens, Greece

Date range:

22-24 June 2023

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Date Deposited:

17 Jul 2023 12:17

Last Modified:

17 Jul 2023 12:17


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