Statistics in Historical Musicology

Three years after completing his PhD on the use of statistics in the study of music history (some of which is covered in our MA module A873), Honorary Associate Andrew Gustar has launched a new website www.musichistorystats.com as a resource for researchers who are interested in using these techniques.

It already contains details of several interesting musical datasets, as well as a few tools that can be helpful in analysing them, and will be expanded over time to include case studies demonstrating how these methods can be applied, as well as discussion of practical and theoretical issues such as bias, cleaning and preparing data, and the presentation of results.

Andrew considered the more usual path of developing his thesis into a book, but decided that a website would be a better option.  “It was hard to think of a clear focus for a book,” he explains. “It is largely about the statistical methodology, but the musicological insights are also fascinating, and the important practical details of handling the data, doing the analysis, and interpreting the results can be quite messy and case-specific.  With a website I can cover all of this in manageable chunks with proper cross-referencing and links to other material, as well as responding to questions and requests and reporting on new sources and techniques.  It is a fast-moving field, and the website will evolve over time in order to remain useful.  At least, that is the plan!”

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