Automatic detection of tonality using note distribution

Kia Ng, Roger Boyle, David Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)


Western musical compositions written in the period of common-practice tonality tend to use key signatures which are effectively a measure of their local harmonic ‘weight’. The authors report a rule-based system for the automated detection of tonality which makes use of the total duration of individual note classes. From a collection of experimental data, the distribution of note classes is observed. Using these empirical results a heuristic search is made with rules derived from high-level musical knowledge in order to estimate the tonality. The resulting data can be used to assist the recognition of partially detected key signatures in an Optical Music Recognition system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-381
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of New Music Research (JNMR)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes


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