Stability and Variation in Cadence Formulas in Oral and Semi-Oral Chant Traditions – a Computational Approach

By Dániel Péter Biró, Peter van Kranenburg, Steven R. Ness, George Tzanetakis, and Anja Volk

This paper deals with current research into melodic stability and variation in cadences as they occur in oral and semi-oral traditions. Creating a new framework for melodic transcription, we have quantized and compared cadences found in Torah trope, strophic melodies from the Dutch folk song collection Onder de groene linde and Qur’an recitation. Working within this new transcription framework, we have developed computational methods to analyze similarity and variation in melodic formulas in cadences as they occur in recorded examples of the before-mentioned oral/semi-oral traditions. We have investigated stability and variation using histogram–based scales, melodic contours, and melodic outlines for recorded examples and we interpret our findings with regard to mechanisms of the process of oral transmission in these oral/semi-oral traditions.

This paper will be presented at the 12th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, July 23-28, 2012 in Thessaloniki, Greece.

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