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



Teaching Links

Musical Informatics

Music Query and Analysis

Musical Data Resources


MuseData (select score data from 1,000 encoded works)

Themefinder (search 100,000 encoded musical incipits)


Personal Statement

For more than 20 years I have been involved in developing open-source repositories for symbolic musical data. Our emphasis is on classical music of the seventeenth-nineteenth centuries. We conduct ongoing research in several areas stimulated by the project's goals. These include music representation, data interchange, musical data-query methods, and musical data as intellectual property. All of these topics are considered in our graduate courses at Stanford Universities and attract visiting researchers from all over the world.

For roughly 15 years previously, I was involved in research on music and cultural history, with particular emphasis on Italian (especially Venetian) music and its social contexts. My current interests include cultural influences (and constraints) on scientific enquiry, which shaped the development of European theatrical life (and much else), the subject of my new book Song and Season. The manuscript news-sheets which circulated throughout Europe prior to the establishment of printed newspapers provide the foundation for my recently New Chronology of Venetian Opera. Their rise and fall prefigures the conflict today between print (the modern analogue of manuscripts) and online publishing (the modern analogue of print).  I also 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: 9 November 2007