Date of Award

Fall 2012

First Advisor

Thomas Short


This is a presentation of a novel method for measuring the distance between two seemingly analogous fragments of music, as deemed by human perception. This is an approach entirely based on coarse-grained and primitive representations of the order of the notes that make up the songs. Through the use of a simplified Markov chain analysis, transition matrices are derived for each music piece and compared through linear algebraic techniques.

We begin by applying the method to two distinctive, intrinsic, and familiar compositions, “Row Your Boat” and “Happy Birthday”. We will advance to more complicated compositions that have garnered attention for being “too similar,” the first set being Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” and Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” and the second, a more recent set of songs, “When Love Takes Over” by Kelly Rowland and David Guetta versus “Clocks” by Coldplay. Via the use of a Markov chain analysis and matrix algebra, we discover hypothesized results of small-distanced values and unforeseen values that were initially thought to be small but actually indicate large distances between music compositions. Since notes are the foundations to music, these results relate to the identities of separate music compositions by distinctive artists in disparate genres.


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