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Nathaniel Condit-Schultz

Photo of Nathaniel Condit-Schultz
Director of Graduate Studies, Georgia Tech School of Music
Education BA Music, University of California Santa Cruz (2012)
MA Music Composition, University of California Santa Cruz (2012)
PhD Music Theory, Ohio State University (2016)
CCM Lab Role Principal Investigator, Research advisor
Pronouns he/him

I am a musician, composer, and scientist, specializing in the statistical modeling of musical structure. At Georgia Tech, I conduct research and advise students as Co-PI of the CCMLab, serve as the Director of the Graduate Program for the School of Music, direct the rock and pop bands, and teach courses in research methodology, music psychology, and music production.


My big project in the last few years has been our humdrumR project, an R-package for musicological analysis. I serve as research advisor to masters and bachelors students in the CCML lab. In recent years, my student advisees Seth Holland, Noel Alben, Rosa Westfall, Jiaying Li, and Robert Kimelman, have presented at the national and international conferences of the Society for Music Perception.

My publications are listed at the bottom of this page.


From 2016–2018, I worked as a Post Doc on McGill University's Single Interface for Musical Score Search and Analysis project, developing tools for the analysis of digital scores. My doctoral thesis involved the creation, curation, and analysis of a corpus of popular rap transcriptions: the (Musical Corpus of Flow—research later published in Empirical Musicology Review. I completed my doctorate at Ohio State University, where I studied music psychology, computational musicology, and scientific methodology with David Huron. I have presented at numerous national and international conferences, both in the humanities (Society of Music Theory) and the sciences (Society for Music Perception and Cognition, International Conference on Music Information Retrieval).

As a guitarist, bassist, and drummer, I play a variety of musics, mostly American vernacular music (rock, pop, hip-hop) and world music—I am also a trained classical guitarist. As a composer, I synthesize common-practice, popular, and world musics, especially focusing on sophisticated rhythm and tempo relationships. My most recent performances have been at our School of Music’s Guthman Musical Instrument Competition:

I also played lead guitar in (and arranged for) the Morehouse Afro Pop ensemble, directed by my colleage Aaron Carter-Enyi. a group that specialized in West African pop music, especially We play a variety of classic highlife and afropop, tunes from the sixties and seventies.

  • Sweet Mother (Nico Mbarga)
  • Water No Get Enemy (Fela Kuti)
  • African Dialects (Peter King)
  • Seun Rere (Christy Igbokwe)
  • Osalobua Rekpama (Victor Uwaifo)


As a composer, I synthesize common-practice and contemporary art music with popular and world musics, focusing on grooves featuring complex poly-rhythms, poly-tempos, and “tempo spirals.” I seek to explore and push the boundaries of some traditional musical stuctures (like meter, or tonality), while keeping other stuctures familiar and traditional. In doing so, I try to ground the novel in the old, allowing us to focus in on the single structure which I am exploring. For example, musicians around the world have thoroughly explored the conflict between triple and duple meter—creating three-against-two cross rhythms or alternating between groups of three at different metric levels. (In Western scores, we often see this sort of interplay notated as the contrast between 3/4, 6/8, and/or 3/16 time signatures.) I enjoy taking these common three-against-two patterns to the next logical level: five (or seven) against two: My most recent piece, Hey Jude Lucas, explores five-against-two patterns in a familiar, folkish guitar arrangement.

  • Hey Jude Lucas
Tempo Spirals

The idea of a “tempo spiral” can be attributed to the composer Elliott Carter, though my interest in the idea is more indebted to the Indonesian music theory concept of irama. The basic idea of the tempo spiral is simple: the tempo continuously accelerates but the rhythmic durations gradually shift downward (quarter-notes become half-notes; the drums switch to “half-time”). The result is music that is always speeding up but which maintains the same overall pace. During my Masters work on composition, I became intrigued by writing a tempo spiral which grooved. Thus was born my piece, Shepard—here is an excerpt:

  • Shepard

The title of this piece is a play on words with the phenomena of Shepard tones, a pitch phenomenon which is conceptually similar to the tempo spiral.

A second piece from my Masters thesis Temper Temper Time plays with similar techniques. The piece jumps between, and sometimes overlays, three different tempos—80, 100, and 125 bpm—, related to one another by (approximately) the ratio of 5/4. Thus, the piece is full of five-against-four polyrhythms and tempo modulations between these three tempos.

  • Temper Temper Time

Like Shepard, the title is a play on words related to a pitch analogy: The ratio 5/4 corresponds to the pitch interval we call a major third. However, three “pure” major thirds (based on 5/4 ratio) stacked on top of each other do not reach a “pure” octave, but are quite flat. So if we walk through the tempos 80–100–125 then up to 160 (double the 80 where we started), the first two tempo changes are “pure” 5/4, but 125–160 is a little to big (“sharp” in pitch terms). In the pitch world, this type of discrepancy has been “fixed” by making each interval (i.e., 5/4) a little bit sharp (or flat)—this is called “tempering” the interval. (In modern Western music, we tune our instruments to a bunch of “tempered” perfect fifths, which creates what we call equal temperament. In Temper Temper Time, I also temper my tempo relationships so that each five-against-four tempo change is actually a little bit too big: this makes sure that every third tempo is perfectly double time! This pitch analogy is made doubly explicit in Temper Temper Time as each tempo is associated with a different key separated by major thirds (F, A, and C#).

One last experiment I conducted with tempo spirals I conducted during my Masters study was this piece: the Clock is Broken. In this piece, the tempo begins at exactly one beat per second (60 beats per minute)—like a clock—, gradually accelerates through the first half of the piece, then gradually slows back down again in the second half of the piece. However, along the way, the original one-second pulse reasserts itself against the accelerated pulse playing the same synthy arpeggio motive every time, creating a different polyrhythm each time, including 3-against-2, 7-against-8, and 9-against-8. For instance, the piece starts at 60bpm and accelerates until it reaches 90bpm, at which point the original 60bpm clock motive plays again, creating a 3-against-2 polyrhythm between the 60bpm and 90bpm pulses.

  • The Clock is Broken

Gamelan is the traditional ensemble of the islands of Java and Bali (in Indonesia). At UCSC, I played with the University’s west Javanese (Sundanese) Gamelan ensemble for several years—I also got to play guitar with UCSC’s Balinese Gamelan ensemble for the premiere of Bill Alves’ piece Angin Listrik. This experience inspired me to write my own Gamelan-Rock fusion music. I recorded samples of every note on every instrument in the UCSC Javanese Gamelan, creating my own MIDI-playable “Gamelan-in-a-box” instrument. For my Masters Thesis, I wrote a concerto for fretless electric guitar and the School’s Javenese Gamelan, entitled Faux-Java Blues. Here is a recording of our live performance at my Masters recital:

  • Faux-Java Blues
Other pieces

This is an orchestral piece which was performed by the UCSC orchestra in 2011. The concept is that I create consonant counterpoint between two orthogonal pitch-class sets: a pentatonic scale (oboe part at beginning) and its complementary diatonic scale (cello part near the beginning). The complementary pentatonic (5-note) vs diatonic (7-note) idea is then analogized rhythmically in the bridge section, with a 5+7 rhythmic pattern.

  • Oddly Matched

This is a classical guitar duet I composed and performed (with Carl Atilano) for my senior recital. The piece is predominantly in 5/4, with lots of three-against-ten polyrhythms, especially in the bridge. Pitch-wise, the piece draws almost entirely from a whole-tone scale, with a tiny bit of sweet diatonicism in the major cadences.

  • Liar

This is a kind of weird, prog-rock, country, rock song which critiques intellectual, “avant-garde” music, while ironically (or hypocritically?) using an intellectual conceit—poly-tonal clashes between G major, A major, and Bb major—to illustrate (or invalidate?) it’s point.

  • It Sounds


Title Author(s) Year Publication Citation
Are the Beatles Really Special?: Commentary on North and Krause 2024 Nathaniel Condit-Schultz in press Empirical Musicology Review
APA .bib Chicago MLA
Have we sold our souls to the drum machine? A historical analysis of tempo stability in Western music recordings Nathaniel Condit-Schultz and Beach Clark 2024 Musicæ Scientiæ
APA .bib Chicago MLA
The Coordinated Corpus of Popular Musics (CoCoPops): A Meta-Dataset of Melodic and Harmonic Transcriptions Claire Arthur and Nathaniel Condit-Schultz 2023 Proceedings of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval
APA .bib Chicago MLA
Deconstructing the nPVI: A Methodological Critique of the Normalized Pairwise Variability Index as Applied to Music Nathaniel Condit-Schultz 2019 Music Perception
APA .bib Chicago MLA
Expanding and Contracting Definitions of Syncopation: Commentary on Temperley 2019 Nathaniel Condit-Schultz 2019 Empirical Musicology Review
APA .bib Chicago MLA
humdrumR: a New Take on an Old Approach to Computational Musicology Nathaniel Condit-Schultz and Claire Arthur 2019 Proceedings of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval
APA .bib Chicago MLA
An Interactive Workflow for Generating Chord Labels for Homorhythmic Music in Symbolic Formats Yaolong Ju, Samuel Howes, Cory McKay, Nathaniel Condit-Schultz, Jorge Calvo-Zaragoza and Ichiro Fujinaga 2019 Proceedings of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval
APA .bib Chicago MLA
A Flexible Approach to Automated Harmonic Analysis: Multiple Annotations of Chorales by Bach and Prætorius Nathaniel Condit-Schultz, Yaolong Ju and Ichiro Fujinaga 2018 Proceedings of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval
APA .bib Chicago MLA
Word Intelligibility in Multi-voice Singing: the Influence of Chorus Size Nathaniel Condit-Schultz and David Huron 2017 the Journal of Voice
APA .bib Chicago MLA
Supplementing Melody, Lyrics, and Acoustic Information to the McGill Billboard Database Hubert Léveillé Gauvin, Nathaniel Condit-Schultz and Claire Arthur 2017 Annual Conference of the International Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations
APA .bib Chicago MLA
Non-chord Tone Identification Using Deep Neural Networks Yaolong Ju, Nathaniel Condit-Schultz and Ichiro Fujinaga 2017 Proceedings of the Workshop on Digital Libraries for Musicology
APA .bib Chicago MLA
MCFlow: A Digital Corpus of Rap Transcriptions Nathaniel Condit-Schultz 2016 Empirical Musicology Review
APA .bib Chicago MLA
Commentary on Ohriner (2016) Nathaniel Condit-Schultz 2016 Empirical Musicology Review
APA .bib Chicago MLA
Catching the Lyrics: Intelligibility in Twelve Song Genres Nathaniel Condit-Schultz and David Huron 2015 Music Perception
APA .bib Chicago MLA
Theme And Variation Encodings with Roman Numerals (TAVERN): A New Data Set for Symbolic Music Analysis. Johanna Devaney, Claire Arthur, Nathaniel Condit-Schultz and Kirsten Nisula 2015 Proceedings of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval
APA .bib Chicago MLA