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Re: [AUDITORY] Note durations in music

Dear Aniruddh,
I don't know of any published distributions of note durations, though I would be surprised if many musicologists have not performed this type of analysis.
But, there are several ways to obtain such distributions, depending on whether you need distribution of durations in the score (as written by the composer, A) or of an actual performance with durations varying for expressive purposes (B).
First, it is usually easy to find downloadable MIDI files of many pieces. These can be imported into Matlab either using your own script (AFAIR MIDI file format is pretty straightforward) or any of downloadable tools (Google says there is a choice). Then it will be easy to do any statistical analysis. Depending on how the MIDI file was created, you will get either A or B.
You can also can manually get the note duration off the score; many scores of older (i.e., not copyrighted anymore) are available at http://imslp.org (including your example Prelude), some are at http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/variations/scores/. This will obviously give you B only.
Finally, A can be obtained by reading note durations off waveform and spectrogram of a recording, this would be most time-consuming though.
Also, please be advised that a lot of solo violin and cello music, including the Prelude you used as an example, does contain multiple notes played simultaneously.
Hope that helps,

On 12 June 2013 16:07, Patel, Aniruddh D. <a.patel@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Dear list,


I’m trying to find papers which report measurements of two aspects of note duration in solo instrumental monophonic music (e.g., recordings of solo violin, cello, trumpet, clarinet, flute, etc. – not piano, guitar, or other instruments that can play multiple notes simultaneously).


1.       The average duration of notes in a piece

2.       A histogram of note durations in the piece


Thus for example this solo cello prelude by JS Bach last about 4 minutes and contains N notes (anybody know?), so the average note duration in this piece is about N/240 notes/sec.  




If one could measure the duration of each note in this recording, then one could plot the histogram of note durations in the piece.


Is anyone aware of such data for any solo monophonic instrument?  Musical style doesn’t matter (can be classical, folk, etc.). 



Ani Patel



Aniruddh D. Patel

Associate Professor

Dept. of Psychology
Tufts University

490 Boston Ave.

Medford, MA 02115