Visible Humor

  • Elaine ChewEmail author
Part of the International Series in Operations Research & Management Science book series (ISOR, volume 204)


In this chapter, we explore the use of the Spiral Array spatial visualization of tonal evolution through time for the visual analysis of P. D. Q. Bach’sThe Short-Tempered Clavier. In particular, we analyze situations in which we can see some of the humor devices abstracted in an earlier study by David Huron. We conclude that although we can see a good number of Schickele’s humour devices—such as incongruent styles, musically improbable tonality and harmony shifts, and excessive repetition—we do not yet have sufficient information to form a robust computer-based method for detecting musical humor. The reader can download the latest version of the MuSA.RT software, MuSA_RT, from the Mac App Store (, cited 30 August 2013), follow the examples posted at, or try out new ones themselves.


Pitch Class Major Triad Virtual Viewpoint Piano Keyboard Expectation Violation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This material is based upon work, and made use of Integrated Media Systems Center Shared Facilities, supported by the National Science Foundation under grant No. 0347988 and Cooperative Agreement No. EEC-9529152. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Digital MusicQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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