Interesting work going on at NYU’s Music and Audio Research Laboratory. They’ve developed software that graphs the various elements of a musical recording and then can compare each to any other recording. They’re working with NYU’s library to add the NYU collection to the musical database. There already is other software available that is capable of comparing digital audio files to determine if one sound recording is identical to another (useful in sampling and file sharing cases).
Until recently if one wanted to make this type of comparison, one would need to engage a human musicologist to perform a similar analysis, often using a privately assembled database to identify similarities among prior art. The tremendous potential utility of this software for music plagiarism litigation is obvious. Soon, our musicologists may be more statisticians than musicians.