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Music21 is an open-source toolkit for Computer-aided musicology. It is licensed under the LGPL (see below).
Michael Cuthbert, the creator of music21, is Homer A. Burnell Associate Professor of Music at M.I.T. He received his A.B. summa cum laude, A.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. Cuthbert spent 2004-05 at the American Academy as a Rome Prize winner in Medieval Studies, 2009-10 as Fellow at Harvard’s Villa I Tatti Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, and 2012-13 at the Radcliffe Institute.
Prior to joining the M.I.T. faculty, Cuthbert was on the faculties of Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges. He has worked extensively on computer-aided musical analysis, fourteenth-century music, and the music of the past forty years. He has published on computer-aided treatment of fragments and palimpsests of the late Middle Ages and on set analysis of Sub-Saharan African Rhythm and the music of John Zorn. In addition to work on music21, Cuthbert is currently writing a book on sacred music in Italy during the age of the Black Death and Great Papal Schism.
Christopher Ariza is Former Lead Programmer of music21 and was Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at M.I.T. from 2010 to 2013. Prior to joining the music21 project, Ariza was Assistant Professor of Music Technology at Towson University in Baltimore. He has published and presented numerous articles and papers on algorithmic composition and generative music systems. Ariza received his A.B. degree from Harvard University and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from New York University.
Additional contributions by many MIT students and visitors and the Open Source software community.
The music21 project was made possible by generous research funding from the Seaver Institute and the National Endowment for the Humanities/Digging into Data research fund.
Music21 is unthinkable without our colleagues and friends working on other music and technology projects, in particular:
Additionally, the following individuals have contributed materials or knowledge to this project. Their contributions and generosity are greatly appreciated.
We are always interested in working with interested musicologists, programmers, psychologists, composers, game-designers, performers, amateur music enthusiasts, etc. In particular, we’re interested in hearing about how music21 helped you advance your work ... or in problems with music21 itself or contributions you’ve made.
You can contact the larger music21 community through the music21 list, or email the authors (at our last names @mit.edu).
In particular, if you are interested in contributing documentation, tests, or new features to music21, please contact the authors.
Music21 is Copyright (c) 2010, the music21 Project (Michael Scott Cuthbert, Principal Investigator). Music21 code (excluding content encoded in the corpus) is free and open-source software, licensed under the Lesser GNU Public License (LGPL). The complete license is included as music21/license.txt and can be found at the following URL:
While you’re legally bound by the rules above, in a nutshell here’s what the LGPL means: You can download music21 for free, give a copy of it to your friends, make your great discovery about Buxtehude or Britney with it and owe us nothing. (Though [sniff, sniff] I’d think a footnote of thanks to music21 in your eventual publication or on your website would be a pretty nice thing to do, no? the authors also enjoy a nice scotch, if you’re feeling really generous). You can even make money off of music21 by making your own projects that use it.
But there are some responsibilities you have: if you alter music21 itself, you must release it under the LGPL license itself (note that we’re bound by the same responsibility!) – meaning your version must also be free and open source. You can link to music21 in your own proprietary closed-source code. So if you want to make money off of a great closed-source software notation package that uses music21, go ahead! But the version of music21 distributed with your software must be editable by users. So if you use music21 to provide sound for a closed-source demonstration, I should be able to hack the version of music21 used by your demo to change the base tuning, etc. In sum: linking to music21 in closed-source applications = good. embedding/altering music21 itself in closed-source apps = illegal.
The LGPL music21 software is distributed with a corpus of encoded compositions which are distributed with the permission of the encoders (and, where needed, the composers or arrangers) and where permitted under United States copyright law. Some encodings included in the corpus may not be used for commercial uses or have other restrictions: please see the licenses embedded in individual compositions or directories for more details.
To the best of our knowledge, the music (if not the encodings) in the corpus are either out of copyright in the United States and/or are licensed for non-commercial use. These works, along with any works linked to in the virtual corpus, may or may not be free in your jurisdiction. If you believe this message to be in error regarding one or more works please contact Michael Cuthbert at the address provided on the contact page.