Date of Award
Honors Bachelor of Arts
This paper will be centered on a case study designed to probe a possible objective method for analyzing music that has already proven itself in the analysis computational systems: information theory. More specifically, this study has been conducted through the collection of data on information entropy in the genre of shape note music. The genre of shape note music has been chosen for its relative simplicity compared to other genres such as the classical symphony, which will render it significantly easier to analyze objectively. Information entropy as proposed by Claude Shannon, makes an excellent method for objective analysis because it deals directly with probability and uncertainty, which are always present in a field such as music that depends so heavily on human subjectivities. Over the course of this study, data on pitch and rhythmic entropies are collected for each of the three or four voice parts in a sample of 20 shape note tunes from The Sacred Harp. These entropy values are then put through rudimentary statistical analysis to determine if any pattern or correlation emerges among the entropy values within the shape note tunes. If any do, this would imply that at east some elements of shape note music can be modeled and expressed using information entropy. Such a finding would create ground for further research into the possibility of modeling musical systems using information entropy.
Major, Kyle, "Entropy in Music: An Analysis of Shape Note Music in Terms of Information Entropy" (2021). Honors Program Theses. 152.