I'm new to music. It's very interesting to me how musicians can memorize so many pieces. I'm a mathematics student and naturally I'm interested in quantifying things.

To keep things simple, lets say we have one movement from a sonata, for example the first movement of Bach's violin sonata 1.

I'm sure most compositions are now "typed" up into some music composition software. I'm interested in seeing how many actual notes are in a composition. Is there a site or program that can compute this?

  • 5
    I cannot answer your question, but I would like to ask what information you think you would get from that number. The number of notes in a piece has absolutely nothing to do with how hard or easy it is to memorize.
    – Matt L.
    Jan 5, 2020 at 18:41
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    To @Matt_L.’s point the number of notes won’t tell you much. Music has repeating patterns or sections that help musicians memorize a piece. Also how will you count notes that are played simultaneously; as one note or more? For example if you play a 7th chord with a melody on top is that 5 notes or 1?
    – b3ko
    Jan 5, 2020 at 18:56
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    This reminds me of Amadeus… "Too many notes." ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 5, 2020 at 19:14
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    No-one remembers all the notes as individual entities - you remember patterns.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 5, 2020 at 19:15
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    @MattL. Just out of curiosity like I mentioned in the post.
    – user5826
    Jan 5, 2020 at 19:19

1 Answer 1


One possible tool for such musicological calculations is the music21 library for Python http://web.mit.edu/music21/

  • 1
    +1 - I'd just add that while the question mentions music that is "typed up" in software, the specific format matters in terms of the ability to extract information and then analyze it using music21 (or other analysis packages). Music21 can take a number of different types of input files (and there may be conversion or export commands from other software that might be able to get the music in a possible format for analysis), but just because music is "typed up" doesn't necessarily mean it's in a format that other software can parse.
    – Athanasius
    Jan 5, 2020 at 19:47
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    @Athanasius Once you start using music21, you'll quickly notice what import formats work. :) Jan 5, 2020 at 20:07
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    Yeah, I know. I've used it. I'm just noting that it's something OP probably needs to realize, which wasn't mentioned in your answer.
    – Athanasius
    Jan 5, 2020 at 20:29
  • This answer would be more useful if you provided a little bit of info on what this Python code considers to be a "note" vs. "not a note" Jan 6, 2020 at 16:01

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