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Holzapfel, Andre, Benetos, Emmanouil, Killick, Andrew and Widdess, Richard (2022) 'Humanities and Engineering Perspectives on Music Transcription:.' Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, 37 (3). pp. 747-764.

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Music transcription is a process of creating a notation of musical sounds. It has been used as a basis for the analysis of music from a wide variety of cultures. Recent decades have seen an increasing amount of engineering research within the field of Music Information Retrieval that aims at automatically obtaining music transcriptions in Western staff notation. However, such approaches are not widely applied in research in ethnomusicology. This article aims to bridge interdisciplinary gaps by identifying aspects of proximity and divergence between the two fields. As part of our study, we collected manual transcriptions of traditional dance tune recordings by eighteen transcribers. Our method employs a combination of expert and computational evaluation of these transcriptions. This enables us to investigate the limitations of automatic music transcription (AMT) methods and computational transcription metrics that have been proposed for their evaluation. Based on these findings, we discuss promising avenues to make AMT more useful for studies in the Humanities. These are, first, assessing the quality of a transcription based on an analytic purpose; secondly, developing AMT approaches that are able to learn conventions concerning the transcription of a specific style; thirdly, a focus on novice transcribers as users of AMT systems; and, finally, considering target notation systems different from Western staff notation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: music transcription, automatic music transcription, ethnomusicology, music information retrieval, music notation
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
T Technology
ISSN: 2055768X
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2021 14:52
Funders: Other

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