Music viewed by its entropy content: A novel window for comparative analysis

Gerardo Febres, Klaus Jaffe, Konradin Metze
2017 PLoS ONE  
Polyphonic music files were analyzed using the set of symbols that produced the Minimal Entropy Description, which we call the Fundamental Scale. This allowed us to create a novel space to represent music pieces by developing: (a) a method to adjust a textual description from its original scale of observation to an arbitrarily selected scale, (b) a method to model the structure of any textual description based on the shape of the symbol frequency profiles, and (c) the concept of higher order
more » ... ropy as the entropy associated with the deviations of a frequency-ranked symbol profile from a perfect Zipfian profile. We call this diversity index the '2nd Order Entropy'. Applying these methods to a variety of musical pieces showed how the space of 'symbolic specific diversity-entropy' and that of '2nd order entropy' captures characteristics that are unique to each music type, style, composer and genre. Some clustering of these properties around each musical category is shown. These methods allow us to visualize a historic trajectory of academic music across this space, from medieval to contemporary academic music. We show that the description of musical structures using entropy, symbol frequency profiles and specific symbolic diversity allows us to characterize traditional and popular expressions of music. These classification techniques promise to be useful in other disciplines for pattern recognition and machine learning.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0185757 pmid:29040288 pmcid:PMC5645004 fatcat:oxbriofnv5hefd2e3vw2uyzane