Do you know if any statistics about the frequency of different type of intervals in music (of a certain period or by a specific composer) exist?

For instance, suppose you have this piece of music in c major: (c' is c upper octave)

c d e g c' g c'

Then we have these intervals:

c d
d e
e g
g c'
c' g
g c'

The interval that occurs more frequently is g c'. Thank you.

  • 1
    Welcome, G. Lari. Have you tried Google Scholar? – Dean Ransevycz Dec 18 '18 at 23:05
  • I'm interested in what you will do with any data that is forthcoming. – Tim Dec 19 '18 at 8:27
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    Ciao Tim, it was mainly a curiosity. But at the beginning the idea was didactical. When you learn a language, you start from simple things and very frequent words. I was wondering if it was possible to do something similar with music: writing simple musical piece starting with the more frequent intervals. – G. Lari Dec 19 '18 at 8:47

A recent study that I haven't had a chance to check out yet can be found here. In the abstract the authors say that they "statistically quantify note usage with respect to pitch class and intervals," and they go on to say that "[i]nterval usage predicts individual composer identity at levels above chance."

And if you're interested in doing this type of work yourself, definitely check out music21; such a study would be very easy to do with this framework.

  • 1
    Fascinating stuff. But you have to wonder what sort of protocols they use to count intervals. Do, say, melodies doubled at the octave count as octaves? – Scott Wallace Dec 19 '18 at 13:23

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