Thursday, June 11, 2009
How not to research about music
Wolfram Alpha has been big in the news as a possible Google killer. The idea is that specific questions are answered, with an emphasis on mathematical calculations. However, the music section leaves much to be desired. Where are the matrix makers, or PC set calculators? The theory is so basic, it barely gets to the level of the third week of a music fundamentals class (the addition of non-Western scales is pretty cool). This is an example of the lack of respect or understanding many scientists have about the complexity of music theory. I'm reading Fred Lerdahl's Tonal Pitch Space right now, which is full of formulas that could be incorporated into a true Wolfram Alpha music section. Or even giving all of the possible neo-Riemannian transformations that connect two chords would be great. The section on the frequency of pitches would be interesting if it included differences based on tuning systems. But calculating interval sizes by rudimentary means? Boring.