Eleanor Selfridge-Field


Consulting Professor, Music and Symbolic Systems

esfield (at) stanford.edu

Braun Music Center #129

541 Lasuen Mall

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305-3076 USA

+1 650 725-9242


Research Links



Recent Public Talks (coming soon)

Teaching Links

Musical Informatics

Music Query and Analysis

Selected Classroom Talks (coming soon)

Musical Data Resources


MuseData (encoded scores for viewing and analysis of c. 1,000 classical works, mainly orchestral)

Themefinder (fuzzy search of 100,000 musical incipits: folk, classical, Renaisssance)

KernScores (encoded scores for analysis and visualization f c. 1,000 classical works, mainly keyboard)


Personal Statement

At the Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities (CCARH) at Stanford University we have been developing open-source repositories of musical scores for more than two decades. Our emphasis is on classical music of the seventeenth-nineteenth centuries. We conduct ongoing research on data design, access, query, analysis, and transformations into graphics and sound. My specialties are music representation, data interchange, musical data-query methods, and musical data as intellectual property. All of these topics are considered in our graduate courses (Music 253 and 254, both cognate courses in Computer Science) at Stanford University. The Center attracts visiting researchers from all over the world.

My research in music and cultural history, with particular emphasis on Italian (especially Venetian) music and its social contexts, continues. Current interests include cultural influences (and constraints) on scientific enquiry, which shaped the development of European theatrical life (and much else). This is the subject of my new book Song and Season. Information from the manuscript news-sheets which circulated throughout Europe prior to the establishment of printed newspapers provides the foundation for my recent New Chronology of Venetian Opera (awarded the 2008 Distinguished Bibliography Prize of the Modern Language Association). The rise and fall of manuscript news-sheets prefigures the conflict today between printed and online newspapers.  I serve as the US representative to the International Vivaldi Institute in Venice. 

Among these seemingly disparate fields of enquiry I find a growing symbiosis, particularly through cognitive studies and unanswered questions about music as intellectual property. Musical informatics is necessarily involved with concepts from music theory, which, in the context of computer applications, lead to countless (unanswered) questions of music cognition. Music cognition has much potential to clarify processes of development and differentiation of historical repertories. The uncertain status of music as (intellectual) property impedes practical applications which are technically sound. This uncertainty, which urgently requires resolution, stems from forgotten disputes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the residues of which shape much of today's discourse on music copyright. 


Last updated: 4 December 2008