The War of the Romantics: An Alternate Hypothesis Using nPVI for the Quantitative Anthropology of Music


  • Leigh VanHandel Michigan State University



historical trends, quantitative musicology, corpus study, rhythm, nPVI


This response offers an alternate interpretation for the data described in Joseph Daniele's 2016 article "A tool for the quantitative anthropology of music: Use of the nPVI equation to analyze rhythmic variability within long-term historical patterns in music." I examine Daniele's argument that there is an overall rising trend in rhythmic variability in German composition from 1600-1950, and offer an alternate, historically informed explanation based on the re-examination of the data. The rising trend does not appear to be consistent throughout time, and rather than being the result of the waning influence of Italian music on German music, I suggest an alternative hypothesis concerning documented differences between late 19th century German composers and their compositional styles.