Visualising folk tune structures

Traditional tunes have a particular shape to them. Many, especially northern European, have two parts, each repeated, possibly with first and second time bars. Within this arching structure that spans the tune in a few leaps, there are smaller repeated phrases, callbacks and variations. I remembered a visualisation I saw a long time ago which took a MIDI file and visualised the structure. I wanted to do something for the tunes in FolkTuneFinder.

So here it is. An arch represents a sequences of notes that has been repeated. Each arch is a different colour, just for legibility.

The code isn’t yet live on FolkTuneFinder, but here are some examples I generated, for now. I think they’re fascinating. I do intend to integrate this with FolkTuneFinder as soon as I have time. Watch this space! For now, here’s some I made earlier.

The Butterfly

The Old Favourite

Ellen o’Grady

The code, written in Scala, is on my github account. There are still some quirks to iron out before going live.

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