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Computer Sciences


It is estimated that there are between seven and ten thousand Irish traditional dance tunes in existence. As Irish musicians travelled the world they carried their repertoire in their memories and rarely recorded these pieces in writing. When the music was passed down from generation to generation by ear the names of these pieces of music and the melodies themselves were forgotten or changed over time. This has led to problems for musicians and archivists when identifying the names of traditional Irish tunes.

Almost all of this music is now available in ABC notation from online collections. An ABC file is a text file containing a transcription of one or more melodies, the tune title, musical key, time signature and other relevant details.

The principal aim of this project is to define a process by which Irish music can be compared using string distance algorithms. An online survey will then be conducted to assess if human participants agree with the computer comparisons. Improvements will then be made to the string distance algorithms by considering music theory. Two other methods of assessing musical similarity, Breandán Breathnach‟s Melodic Indexing System and Parsons Code will be computerised and integrated into a Combined Ranking System (CRS). An hypothesis will be formed based on the results and experiences of creating this system. This hypothesis will be tested on humans and if successful, used to achieve the final aim of the project, to construct a similarity matrix.