Christmas Quiz: Name that Carol!

Here is a short festive quiz based on the lyrics of the top 30 carols on the carols.org.uk website. The challenge is to identify the carol from words that appear only in the lyrics of that carol and no other. So “merrily”, for example, only appears in one carol (clue: Ding Dong). It is just for fun – there is no prize other than a smug feeling and whatever you decide to reward yourself with!

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Further thoughts on Composers’ Star Signs

Aquarius symbol 3Virgo symbol 3Following this previous article, a friend got in touch to thank me for disproving some astrological ‘nonsense’. I replied that I had not disproved anything – I had just failed to find supporting evidence – but it did get me wondering about the nature of the conclusions that can be drawn from this sort of analysis.

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that people born under Aquarius do show a significantly higher propensity to become composers than those born under Virgo. Consider these three possible explanations… Continue reading →

Why Quantify Music History?

There is a shocking absence of statistics in books on music history. Generations of music historians have shown little interest in using statistical analysis to quantify their subject.

But why should it be considered outrageous that music historians have not embraced the tools and techniques that would enable them to quantify music history? After all, there are plenty of excellent accounts of the history of music, all based on thorough and rigorous scholarship and a deep knowledge of the subject. Is this not enough? Continue reading →

This is not a book!

This website is about how to use statistical techniques to study music history. It is based on my PhD thesis, and on more recent work developing the techniques, investigating various topics in music history, and discovering new datasets and ways of understanding them.

It is perhaps more common to develop a PhD thesis into a book, and I have considered this option. But a website seems a more sensible way to go, for three main reasons… Continue reading →