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Polifonia

The research project Polifonia explores and recreates the connections between music, people, places and events, from the sixteenth century to the modern era. Polifonia's findings are made available to everyone in a globally-connected online database and further our understanding of European musical heritage.

The research project Polifonia explores and recreates the connections between music, people, places and events, from the sixteenth century to the modern era. Polifonia's findings are made available to everyone in a globally-connected online database and further our understanding of European musical heritage.

Music notes

"Polifonia will develop artificial intelligence tools to navigate through vast amounts of sounds and texts in different languages”, explains Valentina Presutti, Polifonia project coordinator and professor of Computer Science at the University of Bologna, “to understand how music changed and responded to the social and political environment over the past six centuries. ”

The late Louis P. Grijp, professor at Utrecht University and researcher of musicology at the Meertens Institute, has found indications that at the end of the seventeenth century popular music in the Republic was influenced by French opera from the same period. Surprisingly, the two countries were at war during that period, showing that despite apparent walls and borders, musical connections between people can be established. How many analogous cases could there be? Are there any similarities in their cultural, political or artistic context? Currently, it is difficult to answer these types of questions, as musicologists mainly work on distributed, unrelated catalogs.

Polifonia will create a huge source of information, which will be made accessible to everyone - scientists, artists, music lovers, people working in the creative sector - through a web portal, in order to systematically discover these phenomena. This will allow us to better understand the evolution of music genres: how have they evolved in time and space as a result of the relationships between music and society, as the soundtracks of revolutions, emancipation, wars or even pandemics. With the discovery tools that this project develops, the music industry can, for example, find unexpected links between seemingly unrelated music in its vast catalogs, potentially revealing new ways to classify music outside the usual labels (genre, artist, year).

The Polifonia Consortium is an interdisciplinary team of passionate researchers and music enthusiasts, including computer scientists, anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, music historians, linguists, music heritage archivists, catalogers, and managers, and creative professionals.

This project is funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 program.

Project partners

Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, The Open University, King's College London, NUI Galway OÉ Gaillimh, Ministero per i benni e le Attività Culturali, CNRS, le CNAM, Beeld en Geluid, KNAW, Digital Paths.