Musical Influences: Some Additional Statistics

In this and its twin page (re the 'Has Influenced' data), some additional statistics are offered in an effort to further summarize the influences data given in the "Composers" section on a composer-by-composer basis. In that section the relative removed age of influence is conveyed in the last two fields by preceding the names in each list with '+' and '-' signs; in the 'Musical Influences' field a name is so tagged as follows: (1) no tag: indicates that the influencing composer is older than the subject composer, and was alive during the latter's life; (2) one minus ( - ): indicates that the influencing composer died 0 to 25 years before the birth of the subject composer; (3) two minuses ( -- ): indicates that the influencing composer died 25 to 100 years before the birth of the subject composer; (4) three minuses ( --- ): indicates that the influencing composer died more than 100 years before the birth of the subject composer; (5) one plus ( + ): indicates that the influencing composer was younger than the subject composer. In Tables A and B below these data have been summarized on a by-composer basis. Tables C and D, concerning the 'Has Influenced' data (on the twin page), contain the same variables and data, but have been sorted according to other of these variables/data.

The first three columns in the tables give the 'Mean Age' of the influencing composers, simply by assigning the values 0, -1, -2, -3, and +1 to the conditions described above, and then taking the sums and means. For example, it turns out that Carl Orff's influences code as: -3 -3 -3 0 0 -3 -3 -3 0 0, which summed comes to a value of -18., which divided by the number of influences involved (10) produces a mean value of -1.8. The second column relays the number of influences (in his case, 10). The third column relays an unusual statistic: the number of composers influencing the subject composer who were younger than he/she was. Columns four through six provide a slightly different look at the 'Has Influenced' data: column four consists of the total number of plusses connected to the subject composer; column five relays the total number of composers influenced by the subject composer; and column six the number of composers influenced by the subject composer who were older than he/she was.

To create the "111 Most Influential Composers" list, I left out of my calculations any name in the influences lists that either had a '?' appended to the name, or was not from the basic list of 500 ( i.e., any of the names appearing within brackets [ ] ). This, in the interest of conservative and equal appraisal. To produce the lists here (and for tables C and D), however, I have included all names in the influences lists. However, composers in the "Composers" list who influenced, or were influenced by, fewer than six other composers were not counted. This makes comparisons among the remaining names a bit more realistic. However, as a result one cannot "rank" them, but only put them in order. Tables A and B contain data on just over half of the names from the list of 500; Tables C and D, just under thirty percent. This is not as bad as it sounds, as most of the major composers are represented in both lists, and somewhere around half of the 500 produced no or only one significant influences on later figures anyway. Remember also that we are trying to identify a population here, not just taking a sample.

In Table A, the lowest possible value obtainable for the first column, 'Mean Age', would be -3.0, and the highest, 1.0. Of all the composers I investigated, Carl Orff was apparently the most influenced by past figures. Rounding out the list at the bottom are Papa Haydn and Guillaume Dufay (though the latter's situation is complicated by poorly recognizable influences, and date-of-birth-comparison problems)--an interesting turn of affairs.

The second column, gives the number of influencing composers involved for each subject composer.

In Table B, data in the third column form the primary sort: to emphasize those composers who were most influenced by composers younger than themselves. The clear winners are Papa Haydn and Giacomo Puccini. It is inspiring to consider how these already great figures continued to absorb new influences into their music.

For parallel information focusing on the 'Has Influenced' data (columns four through six), see the twin page in this section.

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