The Creative Process in Lead Sheet Composition

  • Daniel Martín
  • François Pachet
  • Benjamin Frantz
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture book series (PASCC)


Popular songs have arguably a huge impact on society. It is therefore legitimate to investigate the nature of the creative act underlying popular song composition. Ethnographic experiments in song composition are difficult to conduct. This chapter describes an experiment addressing the role of feedback in the lead sheet composition process. To what extent can peer feedback affect the quality of a music composition? How does musical experience influence the quality of feedback during the song composition process? Participants compose short songs using an online lead sheet editor, and are given the possibility to provide feedback on other participants’ songs. Feedback can either be accepted or rejected in a later step. Quantitative data were collected from this experiment that can be used to estimate the relation between the intrinsic quality of songs (estimated by peer evaluation) and the nature of feedback. Results show that peer feedback can indeed improve both the quality of a song composition and the composer’s satisfaction about it. Also, composers tend to prefer compositions from other musicians with similar musical experience levels.


Music composition Creative process Peer feedback Composition quality Lead sheet Online lead sheet editor Song 



This research was conducted within the Flow-Machines project funded by the ERC under the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme (FP/2007–2013)/ERC Grant Agreement n. 291156, and by the Praise project (EU FP7 number 388770), a collaborative project funded by the European Commission under program FP7-ICT-2011-8.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Martín
    • 1
  • François Pachet
    • 1
  • Benjamin Frantz
    • 1
  1. 1.ParisFrance

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