Computational Musicology: Music, Minds, Machines and Meaning

By Anne Welsh, on 13 March 2012

Received by email this morning:

Speaker: Geraint A. Wiggins
from Queen Mary, University of London
Date: Thursday 15th March
Time: 13:30
Location: J Z Young Lecture Theatre, Anatomy Building (ground floor)

Geraint A. Wiggins:
I present a whirlwind tour of my group’s research on computational support for musicologists and musicological knowledge. I begin with basic knowledge representation, founded on mathematical cognitive models of pitch perception and categorisation, and work upwards towards representations of the structural forms that make up what is generally agreed to be music. I briefly describe an implementation of these ideas, AMusE (Advanced Music Encoding), a music knowledge base that is being developed in my lab. I outline how the descriptive terminology of music theory can be declaratively defined over the structures it stores.

Because music has no denotational semantics, its meaning being experienced through structural and personal association, I propose that such a knowledge base can be a closed system, with respect to the non-affective aspects of musical semiotics. This yields an opportunity for cognitive modelling of a breadth and depth which is not afforded by other areas of the humanities. I outline systems for cognitively-based discovery of musical structure, that are incorporated into AMusE, with a view to placing the whole in context of a larger model of creative cognition.

The work reported here has been funded by EPSRC, AHRC and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Biography: Geraint A. Wiggins is Professor of Computational Creativity at Queen Mary, University of London. He studied mathematics and computer sciences at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and holds PhDs from the University of Edinburgh in Artificial Intelligence and in Musical Composition. His research career has specialised in generality, covering computational linguistics, computational logic, computational modelling of music perception and cognition, and computational creativity. He was one of the founders of the computational creativity research area, and is the founding chair of the international Association for Computational Creativity. From 2000-2004, he chaired the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour, the UK learned society for AI and Cognitive Science. He is an associate editor of Musicae Scientiae, the journal of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, a consulting editor of Music Perception, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of New Music Research.