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‘The bad thing about the internet is that everything’s connected these days. Fake news spreads like wildfire’ says Daan van den Berg. ‘So as a classical music lover, when I saw the articles popping up that the music of Bach was being played ever faster these days, I discussed with Frank Nack and turned it into a master’s project.’

David van Erkelens
David van Erkelens

Bach

‘The good thing about the internet is that everything’s public these days’, says David van Erkelens. Discogs, and online database holding over 11 million audio track data records luckily contained plenty of Bach. David fetched nearly 20,000 such records, analyzing Cantatas, Violin Concertos, Organ Trio Sonatas and Suites for Cello Solo, he found not only that the reports of speedup were largely exaggerated, if not untrue, but also that the speedup differs per category, and per region.

Speed ups

‘The Brandenburg Concertos are ridiculously fast these days, decreasing their duration by sometimes nearly 10%. The organ trio sonatas and cello suites however, are consistently being played slower nowadays’ says David. ‘But moreover, the speedups appear to be localized. Speedups are more prominent in Western Europe than elsewhere in the world.’

Extending your vision

‘Data science can be messy business, but making it as objective as we can, defusing misinformation and building a fact-finding culture is an important aspect of academic practice. But relating your data analysis to demographics, anthropoloy, psychology and other remotely related fields, extending your vision over the horizon is really what gave this thesis a bit extra.’ The (seven!) reviewers of the International Conference on Data Analytics agreed largely on this, and David went over to present the work himself.

The paper 'Bachs music is speedup is fake news'