The perception of (ir)regularity in music

Event Date: 
Friday, 20 January, 2023 - 12:00
IBMI classrooom, Zaloška 4 (Department fofr public health), Ljubljana
dr. Lorena Mihelač, ŠC Novo mesto, SGLVŠ
The first part of the lecture focuses on general vocabulary, such as what is "regular" and "irregular." It concludes with a summary of the significance of identifying/discovering (i)regularities in numerous aspects of life, including nature, science (biology, medicine, chemistry), and art. It has been demonstrated that perceiving repeated structures (patterns) is crucial since it influences our comprehension of the world and may affect our survival.
In the second part of the lecture, the perception of (i)regularity in music is emphasized. Formally, regularity represents a category of configurations that an observer detects or recognizes when they occur. Regularity is seen in music as a highly structured 'texture' with dominating periodic patterns and strong links between patterns, where musical concepts are presented in a manner that the human mind can comprehend. In contrast, the irregularity occurs in an unstructured or weakly structured piece of music, where the relationship between patterns is rarely visible and the mental work necessary to understand the novelty-filled musical content diminishes the pleasure of listening to the music.
The third section of this lecture discusses the findings of the recent study "A Computational Approach to the Detection and Prediction of (Ir)Regularity in Children's Folk Songs" (Mihelač et al., 2022), in which the authors (Lorena Mihelač, Janez Povh, and Geraint A. Wiggins) investigated the (i)regularity of musical structures in 736 monophonic children's folk songs from 22 European countries.
By simulating and detecting (i)regularity with IDyOM (a computational model of human melodic pitch prediction) and own algorithm Ir Reg (which classifies melodies based on the regularity of their musical structure), it was discovered that children's folk songs in the United Kingdom, Norway, and Switzerland lack a regular structure. These results were unexpected, as children's folk songs are typically thought to have a basic and regular structure. Future research on (i)regularity could focus on additional musical genres and clarify which patterns and under what conditions are seen as chaotic/unintelligible in the musical structure.

About IBMI

Institute for Biostatistics and Medical Informatics (IBMI), formerly Institute for BioMedical Informatics (so still IBMI) was founded by the Faculty of Medicine as a result of a need for a unit which would perform, or coordinate, tasks related to data analysis and providing information, relevant for research in medicine. The programme of the institute, and its development, have been adjusting thorugh time to changes in financing and technological progress, but the basic aim remain the same: to support research in medicine. This is achieved through the following tasks:


Institute for Biostatistics and Medical Informatics
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Medicine
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