Part of Working in Harmony.

You are here

On this page:

  • How to enter an analysis
  • Annotation basics
  • Format of Roman numeral entries
  • Optional versus required entries
  • Incomplete analyses

On other pages:

How to enter an analysis

Ultimately, we will offer two options for entering your analysis:

  1. ‘On-score’ option [Coming soon] Directly in the encoded score itself as a ‘lyric’ on a newly added lowest part. To do this,
    • add a new part (e.g. press ‘i’ in MuseScore),
    • enter new notes (or perhaps copy over the rhythm from an existing part as a template), and
    • add Roman numeral lyrics to notes in that part. Here’s an example analysis of a Wolf song. We need the new part because otherwise you’d have to change the music (adding notes in to attach lyrics to).
  2. ‘Separate’ option [Available now!] Typing in the ‘Roman text’ format. This is a very simple and intuitive format which adds no jargon beyond that already involved in Roman numeral analysis.
    • See the examples at the end of this page to get the gist of how it works at a glance. The complete version of the Bach analysis can be downloaded here.
    • Scroll down for more advice on the formatting.
    • For those interested in knowing more, the full documentation can be found in our research report for ISMIR 2019 or on music21’s code base, documentation, and User’s Guide.
    • In addition to the analysis examples above:
    • Here is a generic blank template for entering Roman text (complete with 100 empty measures).
    • A growing corpus of examples is hosted here (external link).

Annotation basics

Basically the analyst’s job is to:

  • Decide where each chord change occurs;
  • Enter a Roman numeral (in the format described below).

For ‘On-score’ analyses:

  • Click on the note in the lowest part at that point;
  • Click CTRL+L (Windows) CMD+L (Mac) to start entering a Roman numeral;

For (separate) Roman text files, make sure to:

  • Note down the measure and beat carefully, and
  • Start your analysis at the start of the piece (measure 1, or 0 in the case of anacruses).

Format of Roman numeral entries

For either input type, use the following format:

  • New chord: For each new chord, specify the Roman numeral in relation to the prevailing key, for instance ‘I’ for the tonic.
  • New key: For the start of a new key area (including, necessarily, the start of the piece), specify that key followed by a colon (:) and the Roman numeral (e.g. G: I for a move to G major and a tonic chord in that key). For a continuation of the prevailing key, there’s no need to specify the key: just write in the Roman numeral alone (I).
  • Chord quality: don’t forget to use upper case for Major (e.g. I), lower case for minor (i), and add the symbols for a diminished triad (o) or augmented triad (+) as necessary. The ø symbol can be used for half-diminished sevenths.
  • Finally, specify any added or altered notes in square brackets with add, #, b, or no as required.

In summary, enter a Roman numeral (that’s required), along with any or all of the other annotations (all optional) in the format:

  • key: (e.g. d: ),
  • root accidental (#),
  • Roman numeral (iv),
  • quality (o),
  • figure (6),
  • additions [add9].

For instance, that convoluted entry d: #ivo6[add9] indicates:

  • modulation to d minor and …
  • a chord on the raised fourth degree (G#) …
  • that is diminished (so G#, B, D) …
  • in first inversion (so with B in the bass, below the G# and D)..
  • and with an added 2nd above the root (sic, so the pitch A).

Optional versus required entries

  • On-score format: It’s possible to input spaces in lyrics. In many notation programs, a normal SPACE key will move you on to lyric input for the next note, but ALT-SPACE will keep you on the current note and add a space to that lyric. Given how confusing that can be, we’ve made spaces optional: we don’t require them, but don’t worry if you do have them (the code throws them out anyway).
  • On-score format: All lyrics need to be appended to a note (not a rest) in the new part. You can put meaningful notes in that part (e.g. start by copying existing material and then adjusting the rhythms as necessary) but that’s not required (the notes can just be nonsense as long as they’re in the right place).
  • Either format: Changes of key remain in effect until the next marking, but changes of tonicization don’t so you need to reiterate them at every entry. That should help keep their use suitably fleeting! That said, you may want to put in reminders of the prevailing key occasionally (after a tonicization, or indeed elsewhere). That’s fine and doesn’t make any different to the analysis (again, these repetitions are ignored by the code as redundant information).

Incomplete analyses

Speaking of optional entries, it’s totally fine to submit an incomplete analysis, with a few caveats:

  • The feedback will still make suggestions for where you might like to change chords in any missing passages, though it’s not really designed for this, so be prepared for slightly odd behaviour.
  • If you submit an analysis with no Roman numerals at all then the system will not be so obliging! I.e. it won’t work.
  • The system also currently needs something in place before the first chord of the piece so be sure to include at least a placeholder for the first chord even if you’re only interested in a passage later on.

RomanText Examples

Here’s the beginning of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier:

Composer: J.S. Bach
Title: Prelude No.1 (BWV846)
Analyst: Mark Gotham [feel free to leave this blank]

m1 b1 C: I
m2 b1 ii42
m3 b1 V65
m4 b1 I
m5 b1 vi6
m6 b1 G: V42
m7 b1 I6
m8 b1 IV42
m9 b1 ii7
m10 b1 V7
m11 b1 I

And here’s a hypothetical analysis with lots of symbols and notes for illustration:

Composer: No one in their right mind
Title: 'Study in RomanText'
Analyst: It could be you!

Time Signature: 4/4
Note: Use a new line with 'Note:' to enter a free comment any time you like.

m0 b3 Ab: I 
Note: As normal, if the score begins with an anacrusis, the first (incomplete) measure is numbered 0.

m1 b1 ii b3 IV b4 viiø7
Note: Enter beat-chord pairs each time something happens (here on beats 1, 3 and 4 but not 2). 
Note: The 'ø' symbol is for half-diminished chords. If you prefer, '/o' also works.

Pedal: Ab m1 b1 m2 b1 
Note: Pedals like this ^ are set out on their own line, before or after the measure in question

m2 I || f: III b2 III+  b3 viio6 b4 i
Note: The '||' is used for pivot chords: put the numeral in the prevailing key before (here 'I') and the new key:chord pair after.

Time Signature: 6/8
Note: This ^ is the format for time signatures changes though they should be in the template provided.

m3 viio7 b1.33 i b1.66 viio7 b2 i b2.66 iv6
Note: 6/8 is counted in 2 beats, hence beats 1.33 and 1.66.

m4 It6 b1.33 V b1.66 Fr43 b2 V b2.33 Ger65 b2.66 V 
Note: These are the shorthands for augmented 6th chords. Other inversion can be set in the normal way (e.g. 'Fr65') but no other shorthands are accepted (e.g. 'Gr').

m5-6 = m3-4
Note: This syntax repeats measures 3 and 4 exactly including all chords. 
Note: Use EITHER this repeat format OR a measure entry (not both).
Note: It'd easy to get this slightly wrong, don't do so check you 

m7 viio43 b2 i6
Note: Slashes between figures are optional ('viio43' is fine, as is 'viio4/3').

m8 viio/V b2 V
Note: Slashes are required for tonicizations.

m9 Cad64 b2 V7
Note: Both 'I64' and 'Cad64' are supported (note the capital C); the resolution to V is required.

m10 I
Note: Picardy thirds and other mixture chords work fine.