Inactive Projects

These are projects I have contemplated less well than those above, and/or projects I am not currently pursuing. I wrote about them here to inspire others, and to encourage you to contact me if you're writing about something similar.

Cantus Web App

A Progressive Web App (PWA) and server for the Cantus Database of Mediaeval church music. The client's principal requirements were fast and flexible searching, offline capability, and mobile capability. PWAs are websites that use "progressive enhancement" to offer functionality usually reserved for native mobile apps, when accessed by capable browsers. This approach allowed me to satisfy the desire for a mobile- and offline-capable experience while also providing improved search capabilities for all users. Given that Mediaeval music researchers tend to have minimal research funding, this single-interface approach also minimizes development effort.

There are several components. HolyOrders loads database records from the project's Drupal website into the server-side Solr search platform. Abbot is a Torndao-based HTTP server that allows access to Solr through the purpose-built, RESTful "Cantus API." CantusJS is a Promise-based JavaScript client for the Cantus API. Vitrail is the web app itself, built with React and NuclearJS.


Zhen is a Chinese-English translating dictionary, still in progress. It will be a progressive web app focussed on simplicity. I'm writing it first because I want to use it, but also to help me learn SQL and learn how to write a web app without any front-end frameworks. You can see the source code.

The app's name combines (one of) the Chinese name(s) for that language (romanized as zhongwen) with the English name for that language (being English). So it's ZHongwen and ENglish combining as ZHEN. Pronounced like the English name "Jenn."

Lychee: An Engine for MEI Document Management and Conversion

With Jeffrey Treviño, for the Music Encoding Conference 2016 in Montréal.

Talk describing the overall architecture of nCoda and two of the more interesting technical features of Lychee: our customization of the MEI encoding format, and the generic workflow used for everything Lychee can do.

PDF to follow!

Julius: A Web Interface for Realtime Collaborative and Scriptable MEI Document Editing

With Andrew Horwitz, Jeffrey Treviño, Simon Whitemell, and Sienna M. Wood, for the Music Encoding Conference 2016 in Montréal.

Poster demonstrating the first three "views" that will be part of nCoda:

  • CodeScoreView, showing simultaneous textual and score-based representations.
  • StructureView, to view and manipulate hierarchic sections in the score.
  • RevisionsView, showing the document's history and the differences between revisions.

Link to PDF.

Reconsidering Bartók's "The Miraculous Mandarin"

Originally for the "Music and Identity" seminar with David Brackett. Continued with Lydia Huang for the MusCan 2015 conference in Ottawa.

We produced two new readings of Bartók’s pantomime by examining the power relations through which we engage with the work, and how that affects our relationship to the characters' identities. Our interpertations provide a dramatically new perspective on this uniquely polyvalent work.

Cadence in Sibelius

For the "Cadence" seminar with William Caplin.

  • I suggested the cadences in Sibelius' repertoire fall into three broad categories:
    1. traditional (i.e., they follow Classical-period expectations)
    2. syntactically-modified (i.e., melody, harmony, and metre are non-Classical)
    3. rhetorically-modified (i.e., timbre, dynamics, articulation, rhythm texture, and other)
  • Perhaps surprisingly, I found rhetorically-modified cadential situations are rarely not also syntactically modified.
  • I no longer prefer those categorizations, since the syntactic-versus-rhetoric distinction is used hierarchically in other work, establishing a mindset that I believe runs contrary to the listening experiences of most people.
  • I would also add that, in addition to cadence-like moments, there are many long passages and formal units without any cadence-like moments. I would like to research these passages in the future, to learn how phrase-endings are handled and tonal centres established.

The Problematic Bruckner

For the "Historiography of Music" seminar with David Brackett.

  • I confronted "the Bruckner problem," which is a quirk in writing about that composer—a set of discursive strategies. The result is a set of apologetic supporters and unreasonably negative detractors. I tried to seek the roots of the situation.
  • I learned a lot by writing this paper, but it's a project I do not wish to revisit for now.

III: The History of an Unfortunate Chord

For the "History of Music Theory" seminar with David Cohen.

  • Inspired partly by Riemann, who called III an "unfortunate chord," any my teaching experiences in the undergraduate theory classes at McGill, I sought the history of thinking about chords people have labelled "III" throughout the 20th century.
  • I found the differences in thinking about what is and is not a "III chord" stem from the differences in thinking about what counts as a "chord" at all. Through the 20th century, I was able to find an increasingly common evidence of Schenker-influenced thinking about chords—which does not match that theorist's writings in Harmonie.
  • This is a project I hope to revisit in the future, but I have more important work for now.

The Social Anarchist Music Theory Classroom

For the "Music Theory Pedagogy" seminar with Nicole Biamonte.

  • I wrote about the pedagogic justification and two possible techniques for establishing such a classroom.
  • Please contact me to learn more about this paper.

On Merging the Listener, Performer, and Analyst

For the "Analysis and Performance" seminar with René Rusch.

  • I chose three excerpts from Bruckner's eighth symphony, performed a music theoretic analysis, decided how I would like to hear the passage played, and proposed physical gestures I would use as a conductor to request these of an orchestra. Then I observed three audio-visual recrordings of those excerpts, and compared the recordings based on how closely they followed how I predicted I would like to hear the passage, how closely they followed how I proposed conducting the passage, and how much I actually enjoyed the performance.
  • I chose the eighth symphony because I hadn't listened in several years but I owned many recordings and was quite familiar with the piece. This meant I would certainly be able to imagine how a moment would sound by consulting a score, but I wouldn't likely have a specific recording in mind any more.
  • The three passsages I chose are notable excerpts for my instrument, the tuba. This assured an additional level of familiarity.
  • This project was ridiculous, but I very much enjoyed it. I think it should be moved to the domain of music perception research, where it is the work of a doctoral thesis.

Hypothetical Prognostications on Listener-Based Theories of Desktop Synthesis Music and Their Implications for Music Scholars of all Stripes: an Investigative Approach

For the "Proseminar in Music Theory" with René Rusch.

  • I asked questions about how to form a theory of what I call “desktop synthesis music,” which is any music synthesized (at least primarily) by personal computing devices.
  • I was inspired by Derrida's Glas, where he wrote two apparently-unrelated documents on the same physical object (look it up). It was just the "two things at a time" that inspired me, and I posed a series of questions and answered them both positively and negatively, in columns.
  • In the end, I only convinced myself that there are at least two useful resolutions to each of my questions.