What is a "key profile"?

Krumhansl-Schmuckler developed an algorithm that aids in finding the key of a piece of music.

The algorithm depends on pitches and durations and requires the generation of a key profile.

What is a C-major key profile and a C-minor key profile?

I need to fill a 12-bit vector with such a key profile so I can compare it to 12 chromatic pitches in a given scale. C major and C minor scales have just 7 notes.

  • 4
    I don't think I've heard the term "key profile" before. I assume it's some sort of probability distribution about which notes are the most used in any given key. Since this is a specific algorithm devised by a specific individual, you should research their paper, to see how they define it, or if they refer to another person's work. – Caleb Hines Apr 16 '16 at 13:27
  • @CalebHines The algorithm is specific but the term "key profile" is found in numerous academic papers. A further example of the usage in "Music and Schema Theory: Cognitive Foundations of Systematic Musicology" is the following: "A tone profile of the C-major context and a tone profile of the C-minor context". Does that mean anything to you? – user3168961 Apr 16 '16 at 13:40

The Cognition of Basic Musical Structures has examples of profiles for C major and C minor:


Apparently these particular ones are based on experiments involving Krumhansl where subjects were asked how well each note fit with a prior context that "established a key".

As @CalebHines alludes to, there are other ways in which you could establish such a profile, such as examining a corpus of works, or mathematically evaluating the consonance of intervals.

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