Where Does Haydn End and Mozart Begin? Composer Classification of String Quartets
Published 2018-09-13Version 1
For humans and machines, perceiving differences between string quartets by Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has been a challenging task, because of stylistic and compositional similarities between the composers. Based on the content of music scores, this study identifies and quantifies distinctions between these string quartets using statistical and machine learning techniques. Our approach develops new musically meaningful summary features based on the sonata form structure. Many of these proposed summary features are found to be important for distinguishing between Haydn and Mozart string quartets. Leave-one-out classification accuracy rates exceed 91\%, significantly higher than has been attained for this task in prior work. These results indicate there are identifiable, musically insightful differences between string quartets by Haydn versus Mozart, such as in their low accompanying voices, Cello and Viola. Our quantitative approaches can expand the longstanding dialogue surrounding Haydn and Mozart, offering empirical evidence of claims made by musicologists. Our proposed framework, which interweaves musical scholarship with learning algorithms, can be applied to other composer classification tasks and quantitative studies of classical music in general.