Cantometrics (roughly speaking, "song measurements") is a method for relating the statistical analysis of (primarily) sonic elements of traditional vocal music (or folk songs) to the statistical analysis of sociological traits, largely as those traits are defined and organized via the Human Relations Area Files. Cantometrics thus attempts to relate musical organization to social organization by establishing correlations between, for example, vocal quality (such as tense or relaxed), tessitura, textual coherence (presence and percentage of vocables versus meaningful words), melodic contour, on the one hand, with class stratification, gender relations, and sexual mores on the other. (This is an example of sociological homology).

Cantometrics was co-created by Victor Grauer and was first publicly proposed by Alan Lomax in 1959, who then launched a group project to implement his vision. In 1968 he published Folk Song Style and Culture, in which he claimed that, "for the first time, predictable and universal relationships have been established between the expressive and communication processes, on the one hand, and social structure and culture pattern, on the other" (vii).

Further reading

  • Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-15275-9.
  • Lomax, Alan (1959). "Folk Song Style." American Anthropologist 61 (Dec. 1959): 927-54.
  • Cantometrics page on the Alan Lomax site
  • Lomax, Alan (1968). Folk Song Style and Culture. New Brunswick, U.S.A.: Transaction Publishers, 2000. ISBN 0-87855-640-0

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