I was delighted to learn from Gavan Reilly's Twitter feed about MusicXML's use at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition underway in Dublin, Ireland. At Stand 4207, student Mary Spillane is presenting her work on “Investigating methods of automatically classifying sheet music according to difficulty.” She is a student of Thomas O’Sullivan at St. Mary’s Secondary School, Nenagh in County Tipperary. Her project is “to design an automatic process to grade how difficult a musical piece is by exploring the number of note combinations, length, key changes, accidentals etc.”
This sounds related to the ISMIR 2012 Score Analyzer paper by Véronique Sébastien, Henri Ralambondrainy, Olivier Sébastien, and Noël Conruyt from the University of Reunion Island. I mentioned this to Mr. Reilly, who responded that the BTYSTE project used a broader set of criteria, and was more focused on determining the difficulty of piano music.
It is wonderful to see MusicXML being used in this Irish national contest for high school students. One of MusicXML’s goals was to allow people to develop all sorts of sheet music related software – for composition, analysis, performance, musicology, education, research, or whatever. Clearly we are succeeding!
I also am just a bit jealous of the real work that high school students can do for science fairs today – or heck, in starting their own companies. The means for meaningful creative technological expression were out of reach for high school students when I was their age. As a high school student I used the school’s time-shared computer to help write a John Cage-inspired aleatoric piece. That was a silly little hobby project; it’s nothing close to the projects that Ms. Spillane and the other BTYSTE students are doing. You can download the Exhibition Guide and read page after page of creative ideas whose exploration is now within reach. What a wonderful time for young people interested in science and technology!