Empirical Musicology Review Vol 12 No 1-2 (2017)
Table of Contents
Daniel Müllensiefen, Daniel Shanahan
THIS issue of Empirical Musicology Review is a good example of the breadth and diversity of empirical music research, both in terms of disciplinary approaches as well as the stylistic variety of musical material covered. The article by Kopiez, Wolf, and Platz is a replication and extension of a performance research study following the classical experimental approach dominating psychological research. Using this experimental paradigm, the authors are able to show that instrumental solo performances from memory only achieve a small positive effect on audience appreciation compared to performances using a music stand on stage.
White’s paper also employs classical experimental paradigms in order to assess the cognitive question to what degree tonally stable notes and metrical accents are associated in listeners‘ perception. Overall, White finds evidence for a joint tonal-metric hierarchy, though the association between tonal and metrical emphasis does not seem to be fully symmetrical. The contribution by Zicari represents a systematic study of aria recordings by Adelina Patti form the early 20th century. Zicari is able to argue with empirical evidence that, while Patti makes use of expressive tempo to convey the dramatic meaning of the arias in line with established performance conventions from the 19th century, she is able to stay clear of abusing the composer’s intentions with any exaggerated interpretative choices. The paper by Huisman, Gingras, Dhondt, and Leman also comes from the field of musical performance research and compares different learning trajectories and performances of the same complex piece of contemporary music as performed by different musicians learning from different graphical score editions of the same piece. Results link back to models from embodied music cognition when performers make use of embodied associations between images of the scores and motor actions. Finally, Duinker presents a corpus study of hip-hop recordings to assess whether the so-called ‚golden age of hip-hop‘ (1986-1996) can be described by a distinctive sound, and to what degree this sound is a homogeneous phenomenon or characterized by change over time in individual sound parameters and production techniques.
These five target articles are complemented by six commentaries that offer alternative perspectives and additional interpretations on the empirical findings and inferences presented in the target papers. In all cases, reading the commentaries alongside the target papers will enable the reader to gain a wider perspective on the research questions tackled and will help to stimulate an active and productive reception of the research presented here. The book review by Harrison completes this issue and offers both a concise and easy-to-read summary, as well as a critical discussion of the contributions to an edited volume by Smith, Chew, and Assayag that covers a wide variety of aspects in mathematics and computation in music performance and composition.
Small Influence of Performing from Memory on Audience Evaluation
Reinhard Kopiez, Anna Wolf, Friedrich Platz
This study investigates the influence of an actual music stand on the evaluation of a videotaped audio-visual solo instrumental performance. Previous research has provided evidence that the presence of a score or music stand (obstructing the audience’s view of the performer) might negatively influence the evaluation of the performance. However, due to methodological ambiguities, results in previous studies cannot be regarded as definitive. Thus, we conducted a replication study of Williamon (1999) with better control over confounding variables (e.g., varying levels of technical proficiency in different conditions). A violoncello player performed two pieces for solo instrument: once with a music stand on stage (pretending to play from score) and once without. The level of technical proficiency was kept constant in both performance presentations by the use of a pre-recorded, well-rehearsed performance from memory. Audio tracks were synchronized with the performance movements in a playback paradigm. Based on the performance evaluations from a web-based experiment (N = 471 participants), we found a significant but small effect size for the main effect of performance presentation (with vs. without music stand) (d = 0.23). We conclude that the audience’s appreciation of a particular performance from memory might be based on factors other than the objective performance quality.
Relationships Between Tonal Stability and Metrical Accent in Monophonic Contexts
Recent corpus analyses have provided evidence for interactions between tonal and metric hierarchies by illustrating that tonally stable pitches occur disproportionately often on strong metrical positions while tonally unstable pitches occur more frequently on weaker metrical positions. This study begins to investigate whether this observed property is salient to listeners‘ identification of metrical accents: by presenting participants with tonally-determined but metrically ambiguous beat patterns, we ask how tonal hierarchies might influence listeners‘ interpretation of these metrical-accent patterns (as measured via a tapping task). In Experiment 1, participants heard patterns alternating tonally stable and unstable pitches, and it was found that tonal stability did not affect metric interpretations. In Experiments 2 and 3, listeners heard an atonal artificial hierarchy prefaced by an exposure session using music generated by this artificial hierarchy; exposure did not influence the subsequent tapping task. Flipping the paradigm, in Experiment 4, participants heard a metrically defined but tonally-ambiguous melody, and selected the most appropriate chord. The metrical context affected participants‘ harmonization choices. Although a tendency to align strong beats with chord tones accounted for some of the data, further analysis shows that changing the metrical context influenced chord choices, providing evidence for a joint tonal-metric hierarchy.
Expressive Tempo Modifications in Adelina Patti’s Recordings: An Integrated Approach
This paper explores the extent of expressive tempo modifications as a function of textual content in four operatic arias recorded by Adelina Patti between 1905 and 1906. Their analysis made it possible to determine to what extent significant tempo modifications coincide with those moments in the music, in which special emphasis is demanded by the lyrics. A twofold approach was adopted: the paradigms of historical musicology provided the conceptual tools necessary to define the context, reconstruct the vocal practice, and understand the relationship between the lyrics and the compositional solutions underpinning them; the degree of tempo variability for each aria was determined by empirically measuring the crotchet beat lengths and by calculating the value of mean, mode, standard deviation and coefficient of variation. Results show that Patti’s renditions of the four arias present tempo modifications which are instrumental to the expression of their dramatic content, as recommended by the singing methods and treatises which appeared in the course of the nineteenth century. Most crucially, they challenge the assumption that interpreters trained in the late romantic culture abused the composer’s intentions and indulged in tasteless, exaggerated interpretive choices.
Musical Complexity and „Embodied Notation“: A Study of the Opus Clavicembalisticum (K. S. Sorabji)
Lukas Huisman, Bruno Gingras, Geert Dhondt, Marc Leman
Scores of complex, 20th century, solo piano pieces can be difficult to perform and may even include elements that are physically impossible to play. This article investigates the role of music notation in the Opus Clavicembalisticum of Sorabji, which is a rather extreme case in terms of virtuosity and length. To analyze the effect of score notation on learning and performing, 9 pianists were asked to practice music fragments in 3 different score editions, namely the original Urtext edition (a 4-staff score), performance edition (same notes but organized according to an „embodied“ performance viewpoint), and study edition (further simplified and with added analytical reading aids). The hypothesis was that the „embodied notation“ would have an effect on study time (shorter study time) and errors (fewer errors). Objective features of the study process and performance, such as study time, error ratio and markings on the score (fingerings, hand distribution, synchronization) were compared. Subjective remarks the performers made about the scores were also analyzed. Findings indicate a significant positive influence of the score type on the study time. These results suggest that players draw on ideomotor principles, which include processes based on learned and „embodied“ associations between perceived images of the scores and the motor activity that is directly associated with it.
In Search of the Golden Age Hip-Hop Sound (1986–1996)
Ben Duinker, Denis Martin
The notion of a musical repertoire’s „sound“ is frequently evoked in journalism and scholarship, but what parameters comprise such a sound? This question is addressed through a statistically-driven corpus analysis of hip-hop music released during the genre’s Golden Age era. The first part of the paper presents a methodology for developing, transcribing, and analyzing a corpus of 100 hip-hop tracks released during the Golden Age. Eight categories of aurally salient musical and production parameters are analyzed: tempo, orchestration and texture, harmony, form, vocal and lyric profiles, global and local production effects, vocal doubling and backing, and loudness and compression. The second part of the paper organizes the analysis data into three trend categories: trends of change (parameters that change over time), trends of prevalence (parameters that remain generally constant across the corpus), and trends of similarity (parameters that are similar from song to song). These trends form a generalized model of the Golden Age hip-hop sound which considers both global (the whole corpus) and local (unique songs within the corpus) contexts. By operationalizing „sound“ as the sum of musical and production parameters, aspects of popular music that are resistant to traditional music-analytical methods can be considered.
Commentary on Kopiez, Wolf, and Platz: The impact of playing from memory on performance evaluation
Kopiez et al. (this volume) empirically investigated the effect of playing from memory (more specifically, playing with a conspicuously visible music stand) on the evaluation of audiovisual recordings of solo instrumental performances. Their study, a replication of Williamon (1999), corroborates the finding that the presence of a music stand has a small but significant negative effect on performance evaluations. In this commentary, I present so
me possible explanations for this effect and discuss relevant implications for future research and for professional performers. I also provide some suggestions for improving the experimental design, such as using a better measure of musical sophistication, controlling for the potential visual distractor effect of the music stand, and developing a more comprehensive and statistically robust scale for evaluating performances.
Commentary on Christopher White, „Relationships between tonal stability and metrical accent in monophonic contexts.“
Commentary on Zicari. Expressive Tempo Modifications in Adelina Patti’s Recordings: An Integrated Approach
Performers, Composers, Scores and Editions: Commentary on Huisman, Gingras, Dhondt, and Leman (2017)
Deciphering and Embodying Contemporary Piano Scores: A Commentary on Huisman, Gingras, Dhondt, and Leman (2017)
Style and Flow: A Commentary on Duinker & Martin
Jordan B. L. Smith, Elaine Chew, & Gérard Assayag (editors), Mathemusical conversations: Mathematics and computation in music performance and composition
Peter M. C. Harrison