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You are here: McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind > Publications > CantoCore: A new cross-cultural song classification scheme

Patrick E Savage, Emily Merritt, Tom Rzeszutek, and Steven Brown (2012)

CantoCore: A new cross-cultural song classification scheme

Analytical Approaches to World Music, 2(1):87-137.

Classification of organisms and languages has long provided the foundation for studying biological and cultural history, but there is still no accepted scheme for classifying songs crossculturally. The best candidate, Lomax and Grauer's "Cantometrics" coding scheme, did not spawn a large following due, in part, to concerns about its reliability. We present here a new classification scheme, called "CantoCore", that is inspired by Cantometrics but that emphasizes its "core" structural characters rather than the more subjective characters of performance style. Using both schemes to classify the 30 songs from the Cantometrics Consensus Tape, we found that CantoCore appeared to be approximately 80% more reliable than Cantometrics.

Nevertheless, Cantometrics still demonstrated significant reliability for all but its instrumental characters. Future multidisciplinary applications of CantoCore and Cantometrics to the crosscultural study of musical similarity, musical evolution, musical universals, and the relationship between music and culture will provide the true test of each scheme's value.

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