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Some thoughts on musical similarity Lawrence Zbikowski Department of Music

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1 Some thoughts on musical similarity Lawrence Zbikowski Department of Music

2 Reflections on music similarity similarity as an aspect of musical organization, shaped by human cognitive capacities similarity as an aspect of musical organization, shaped by human cognitive capacities “similarity relations” in post-tonal music theory (Robert Morris, Eric Isaacson, John Rahn) “similarity relations” in post-tonal music theory (Robert Morris, Eric Isaacson, John Rahn) Ian Quinn, “Listening to Similarity Relations,” Perspectives of New Music 39/2 (Summer 2001): 108–58. Ian Quinn, “Listening to Similarity Relations,” Perspectives of New Music 39/2 (Summer 2001): 108–58. objective similarity—based on objectively observable properties of entities or phenomena objective similarity—based on objectively observable properties of entities or phenomena

3 Dedre Gentner and Arthur B. Markman, “Structure Mapping in Analogy and Similarity,” American Psychologist 52, no. 1 (January 1997): 45–56. notion of alignable differences

4 perceptual similarity

5 perceptual similarity?

6 Functional similarity two or more entities or phenomena are judged to function in similar ways in a given context two or more entities or phenomena are judged to function in similar ways in a given context related to judgments of category membership related to judgments of category membership Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight” (from the 1936 film Swing Time) Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight” (from the 1936 film Swing Time)

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8 Processes of Categorization Categorization occurs in all sensory modalities and throughout the range of mental activities: we categorize smells and sounds, thoughts and emotions, skin sensations and physical movement. Categorization occurs in all sensory modalities and throughout the range of mental activities: we categorize smells and sounds, thoughts and emotions, skin sensations and physical movement. Categories with a graded structure—some members are “better” members of the category than other members. Categories with a graded structure—some members are “better” members of the category than other members. cf. Zbikowski, Conceptualizing Music (2002), chapter 1. cf. Zbikowski, Conceptualizing Music (2002), chapter 1.

9 The Graded Structure of Everyday Categories Membership in the categories humans use in daily life is graded through a dynamic process in which the attributes of potential category members are compared with the attributes most typically found within the category. Membership in the categories humans use in daily life is graded through a dynamic process in which the attributes of potential category members are compared with the attributes most typically found within the category. The result is what are called “typicality effects”: some members of the category are regarded as more typical of the category than others. The result is what are called “typicality effects”: some members of the category are regarded as more typical of the category than others.

10 Graded Structure among Members of the Category Bird (U.S. participants) E. Rosch, “On the Internal Structure of Perceptual and Semantic Categories,” robinssparrows owls eagles emus ostriches penguins

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13 Conceptual models and categorization Conceptual models are relatively basic cognitive structures that act as guides for reasoning and inference; each model consists of concepts in specified relationships, and pertains to a specific domain of knowledge. Conceptual models are relatively basic cognitive structures that act as guides for reasoning and inference; each model consists of concepts in specified relationships, and pertains to a specific domain of knowledge. cf. Zbikowski, Conceptualizing Music (2002), chap. 3; Zbikowski, “Modelling the Groove” (2004). cf. Zbikowski, Conceptualizing Music (2002), chap. 3; Zbikowski, “Modelling the Groove” (2004). Conceptual models provide a guide for the judgments that yield typicality effects. Conceptual models provide a guide for the judgments that yield typicality effects.

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15 Another version of “The Way You Look Tonight” a recording of a live performance that the jazz guitarist Jim Hall made in June of 1975 with bassist Don Thompson and drummer Terry Clarke a recording of a live performance that the jazz guitarist Jim Hall made in June of 1975 with bassist Don Thompson and drummer Terry Clarke Hall’s solo chorus Hall’s solo chorus

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19 Frame structures, which are typically implemented as a system of nodes linked by relations, provide one way to explore the graded structure that characterizes everyday categories.

20 A possible methodology... select repertoire (i.e., corpus) select repertoire (i.e., corpus) interview participants familiar with the corpus about judgments of similarity (aim is to extract relevant attributes on which judgments are made) interview participants familiar with the corpus about judgments of similarity (aim is to extract relevant attributes on which judgments are made) build conceptual model/frame build conceptual model/frame develop algorithms to test structure of frame develop algorithms to test structure of frame test algorithms/frame with novel exemplars test algorithms/frame with novel exemplars

21 Conclusions objective similarity—based on objectively observable properties of entities or phenomena objective similarity—based on objectively observable properties of entities or phenomena perceptual similarity—reflects both the resources and the limitations of human perceptual systems perceptual similarity—reflects both the resources and the limitations of human perceptual systems functional similarity—reflects a judgment that two or more entities or phenomena function in similar ways in a given context functional similarity—reflects a judgment that two or more entities or phenomena function in similar ways in a given context

22 Conclusions Functional similarity can be productively thought of in terms of processes of categorization. Functional similarity can be productively thought of in terms of processes of categorization. L. Barsalou, “Perceptual Symbol Systems,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (November 1999): 577–660. L. Barsalou, “Perceptual Symbol Systems,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (November 1999): 577–660. It also seems to be the case, however, that analogical processes, such as those that I mentioned earlier, are important for judgments of functional similarity. It also seems to be the case, however, that analogical processes, such as those that I mentioned earlier, are important for judgments of functional similarity. Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander’s Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking (New York: Basic Books, 2013). Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander’s Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking (New York: Basic Books, 2013).


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