Skip to main content
  • Book
  • © 2021

Let’s Calculate Bach

Applying Information Theory and Statistics to Numbers in Music

Authors:

  • Applies information theory, mathematical, statistical and computational methods to explore numbers and proportions in music

  • Features detailed descriptions of the techniques and a computer program, equipping readers to reproduce all results

  • Shows how scientific tools can be used for the humanities, appealing to anyone interested in arts and science

  • Summarises the main take-aways for each chapter

Buying options

eBook USD 89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-63769-9
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Table of contents (14 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxxiv
  2. Introduction

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 1-6
  3. An Information Theory Approach

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 7-17
  4. Some Possible Codings in Music

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 19-38
  5. Ambiguity in Decoding

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 39-50
  6. Multiple Words and Partitioning

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 51-55
  7. Score Analysis

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 57-72
  8. Statistical Methods

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 73-85
  9. Exploring Proportions

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 87-115
  10. Consolidated Observations

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 153-203
  11. Magic Squares

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 205-212
  12. Psychological Fallacies

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 213-216
  13. Bach, Science and Technology

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 217-231
  14. Conclusion

    • Alan Shepherd
    Pages 233-234
  15. Back Matter

    Pages 235-352

About this book

This book shows how information theory, probability, statistics, mathematics and personal computers can be applied to the exploration of numbers and proportions in music. It brings the methods of scientific and quantitative thinking to questions like: What are the ways of encoding a message in music and how can we be sure of the correct decoding? How do claims of names hidden in the notes of a score stand up to scientific analysis? How many ways are there of obtaining proportions and are they due to chance?

After thoroughly exploring the ways of encoding information in music, the ambiguities of numerical alphabets and the words to be found “hidden” in a score, the book presents a novel way of exploring the proportions in a composition with a purpose-built computer program and gives example results from the application of the techniques. These include information theory, combinatorics, probability, hypothesis testing, Monte Carlo simulation and Bayesian networks, presented in an easily understandable form including their development from ancient history through the life and times of J. S. Bach, making connections between science, philosophy, art, architecture, particle physics, calculating machines and artificial intelligence. For the practitioner the book points out the pitfalls of various psychological fallacies and biases and includes succinct points of guidance for anyone involved in this type of research.

This book will be useful to anyone who intends to use a scientific approach to the humanities, particularly music, and will appeal to anyone who is interested in the intersection between the arts and science.

With a foreword by Ruth Tatlow (Uppsala University), award winning author of Bach’s Numbers: Compositional Proportion and Significance and Bach and the Riddle of the Number Alphabet.

“With this study Alan Shepherd opens a much-needed examination of the wide range of mathematical claims that have been made about J. S. Bach's music, offering both tools and methodological cautions with the potential to help clarify old problems.”
Daniel R. Melamed, Professor of Music in Musicology, Indiana University

 


Keywords

  • musicology
  • Bach
  • numerology
  • proportions
  • information theory
  • statistics
  • computers
  • Bayes
  • coding
  • biases
  • scientific tools in the humanities
  • proportional parallelism
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • Bayesian networks
  • encoding information in music

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dierdorf, Germany

    Alan Shepherd

About the author

Alan Shepherd obtained a degree in electrical engineering and electronics from Brunel University, UK and has had a successful career as a computer programmer and IT management and governance professional. In retirement he has returned to one of his spare time interests, the music of J.S. Bach, to bring his technological and scientific knowledge to the exploration of numbers in music.

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

eBook USD 89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-63769-9
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)