What is Themefinder?

-Themefinder allows you to identify common themes in Western classical music, folksongs, and latin Motets of the 16th century.

-It provides a web-based interface to the Humdrum thema command , which in turn allows the searching of databases containing musical themes or incipits.

The Development of Themefinder

-Themefinder is a collaborative project between the Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities at Stanford University, and the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory at Ohio State.

-Themefinder's search engine and thematic database were created by David Huron.


-Themes and incipits available through Themefinder are first encoded in the kern music data format.

-The kern scheme allows the encoding of pitch and duration, as well as accidentals, articulation, ornamentation, ties, slurs, phrasing, glissandi, barlines, stem-direction and beaming.

-In general, kern is intended to represent the underlying syntactic information conveyed by a musical score rather than the visual or orthographic information.


-Classical themes: a corpus of 10,000 themes, first encoded by David Huron, Leigh van Handel, and Kelly Leistikow between 1996-2000.

-Essen Folksong Collection: contains over 7,000 European folk melodies encoded between 1982-1994.

-Latin Motets: derived primary from Harry Lincolnís collection, it consists of about 18,000 incipits from about 4,500 compositions.

Basic SearchóThemefinder

1) Select repertory (optional)

2) Select search criteria: pitch, interval, scale degree, gross contour, or refined contour

3) Select a search location (anywhere in the theme, or just the beginning)

The Search Criteria

-Pitch: Pitch Class (A, G) accidental (# is sharp, - is flat) ex: C B C G A- C B C D

-Interval: Intervals consist of 3 components to be indicated in this order:

-Scale degree: numbered 1-7 ex: 171561712

-Gross Contour: the shape of the melody (\=descending, /=ascending, -=repetition)

-Refined Contour: U=ascending leap, u=ascending step, D=descending leap, d=descending step, s=repetition) ex: duDuUduuD

Specific Searches




-Users can provide links to themes in the Themefinder database. These links usually provide further information about the piece from which the theme was taken.


-The search engine is easy to use and fast.

-You canít search by rhythm.

-You canít search the classical music database by composer, period, or genre.