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Modelling music: a theoretical approach to the classification of notated Western art music

Lee, Deborah (2017). Modelling music: a theoretical approach to the classification of notated Western art music. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The classification of notated Western art music is a perennial issue. This thesis analyses and models the knowledge organization of notated Western art music in order to elucidate a theoretical understanding of these classification issues and to offer new ways of viewing music classification in the future. This thesis also considers how music classification contributes to developments in general knowledge organization and compares the classification of Western art music across the library and information science (LIS) and music domains. The research is conducted using a number of analytical techniques, including examining music knowledge organization discourse, analysing examples of LIS classification schemes, unpicking discussions of classification in the music domain and analysing composer worklists in the music domain. After ascertaining how music classification fits into theories of faceted classification, three important facets of music are identified: medium, form and genre, and a quasi-facet of function. These three facets are explored in detail over five chapters: the binary vocal/instrumental categorisation; classifying numbers of instruments or voices, accompaniment, arrangements and “extreme” mediums; classifying musical instruments; classifying musical forms and genres; and the quasi-facet of function.

Five resulting models of music classification are presented. Model 1 demonstrates the complexities of classifying musical medium, including the interlinked relationships between different parts of musical medium. Model 2 offers a solution to LIS classification’s largely binary view of vocal and instrumental categorisation by suggesting a novel new category: “vocinstrumental”. Model 3 illuminates the entrenched dependencies between facets of music, highlighting one of the structural issues with LIS classifications of music. Model 4 offers an original structure of music classification, proposing a simultaneous faceted and genre-based system. Model 5 compares classification in the music and LIS domains, offering a novel way of considering domain-based classification by codifying various types of relationships between the LIS and domain classifications. This thesis also contributes to the theory and practice of knowledge organization in general through the development of novel frameworks and methodologies to analyse classification schemes: the multiplane approach, reception-infused analysis, webs of Wirkungs (connections) between classification schemes and stress-testing.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Library & Information Science
Doctoral Theses
School of Science & Technology > School of Science & Technology Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
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