A geometrical distance measure for determining the similarity of musical harmony
International Journal of Multimedia Information Retrieval
In the last decade, digital repositories of music have undergone an enormous growth. Therefore, the availability of scalable and effective methods that provide contentbased access to these repositories has become critically important. This study presents and tests a new geometric distance function that quantifies the harmonic distance between two pieces of music. Harmony is one of the most important aspects of music and we will show in this paper that harmonic similarity can significantly
... bute to the retrieval of digital music. Yet, within the music information retrieval field, harmonic similarity measures have received far less attention compared to other similarity aspects. The distance function we present, the Tonal pitch step distance, is based on a cognitive model of tonality and captures the change of harmonic distance to the tonal center over time. This distance is compared to two other harmonic distance measures. We show that it can be efficiently used for retrieving similar chord sequences, and that it significantly outperforms a baseline string matching approach. Although the proposed method is not the best performing distance measure, it offers the best quality-runtime ratio. Furthermore, we demonstrate in a case study how our harmonic similarity measure can contribute to the musicological discussion of the melody and harmony in large-scale corpora.