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Musical Prosody Strategies of Performance Revealed in Graphs Elaine Chew ELE021 / ELED021 / ELEM021 6 Feb 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Musical Prosody Strategies of Performance Revealed in Graphs Elaine Chew ELE021 / ELED021 / ELEM021 6 Feb 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Musical Prosody Strategies of Performance Revealed in Graphs Elaine Chew ELE021 / ELED021 / ELEM021 6 Feb 2012

2 Logistics 2-3 papers/presentations per week – two volunteers for afternoon of Mon, 27 Feb, 2012 Exam questions will be drawn from readings/presentations and assignments Module material posted publicly at

3 Prosody (Palmer & Hutchins) In Speech: Variations in frequency, amplitude, duration that form grouping, prominence, and intonation In Music: Variations in frequency, time, amplitude, and timbre to create expression to – Communicate emotion (Juslin & Sloboda 2001) – Clarify structure (Kendall & Carterette 1990) Indicated by composer in score (Lerdahl & Jackendoff 1983) Indicated by performer in interpretation (Apel 1972)

4 Prosody in Speech Acoustic variation in fundamental frequency, spectral information, amplitude, and relative durations of speech. Can be explained by cognitive structures implicit in minds of speakers (Pierrehumbert 1999) Word level: disambiguating bet competing words – E.g. greenhouse vs. green house Above word level: syntax/semantics/discourse structure – E.g. Illocutionary intent: statement or request Most definitions distinguish between pitch and other (e.g. time) dimensions

5 Prosody in Music Relatively fixed in terms of mostly pitch, and also duration, categories: discussion focuses on rhythm, grouping, prominence Musical meter ~ linguistic stress – Syllable timed vs. stress timed languages Difference: degree of isynchrony or temporal regularity

6 Kreisler Plays Kreisler

7 Function of Music Prosody Segmentation: segmenting continuous audio stream into component units Focus and Prominence: highlighting items of relative importance Coordination: such as turn taking Emotional response: attributing emotional states

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12 Comparing performances Daniel Barenboim Feb 02, 1987 ℗ 1987 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH Hamburg Maurizio Pollini ℗ 1992 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH Hamburg Artur Schnabel ℗ 2009 EMI Records Ltd.

13 Segmentation Phrase boundaries marked by changes in intensity, tone duration, and articulation Phrase boundaries indicated by – Phrase-final lengthening – Decreased amplitude (Drake & Palmer 93, Palmer 96) Hierarchy: – Amount of slowing corresponding to depth of embedding (Todd 85/89, Shaffer & Todd 87)

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15 Beat Annotation of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata performed by Artur Schnabel

16 Comparisons of the three performances first note of each bar

17 (b) Pollini starts each phrase at the beginning of each bar (each phrase marked by an accel-decel arc)

18 (a) Barenboim starts phrases at beginning of bars with a few exceptions accelerate across barline

19 (c) Schnabel accelerate across barline decelerate across barline almost never aligns phrase starts with barline as if always negating the barline

20 “This is the tension between metric groups (measured, regularly recurring beat groupings) shown by the bar lines in the score, and the boundaries of figural groupings or gestures (‘temporal gestalts’) which are not generally shown in an unedited score. Thus, on one hand, performers must find the figural or phrasing groups hidden in the score and on the other, intuitively musical players must learn to overcome the seductive appearance of the bar lines which do not represent their natural feel for the gestural grouping of music.” (p.94, Bamberger 2011)

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22 Prominence Using stress/accent to signal focus or more significant events Devices: – Louder or change articulation (e.g. staccato) to mark metrically important (Sloboda 1983, 1985) – Louder, longer, more legato (Gabrielsson 1974) – Vibrato (Seashore 1938, Small 1937) – Exaggerating intervals

23 Comparing performances Daniel Barenboim Feb 02, 1987 ℗ 1987 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH Hamburg Maurizio Pollini ℗ 1992 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH Hamburg Artur Schnabel ℗ 2009 EMI Records Ltd.

24 dotted rhythm

25 Entrance of the RH melody

26 bass line

27 Schnabel: bass line only lands on the beat here bass line onsets

28 Schnabel: large scale gestures listen

29 listen

30 “the thing that stands out in the Schnabel performance is his almost mysterious ability to create or to project a 'long line' when the piece is basically slow-moving to static.What I mean by 'mysterious' is that trying to account for how that whole first phrase (even though only 4 bars long) is as if in one long breath. The other performers seem to stop at each bass note, with the right hand just embellishing it, but not make it move, even in its stasis. But if you try to listen for particular aspects–dynamics, rubato, balance–I, at least, can't say what he does to make that long breath happen. As he used to say, if you can HEAR it, you can make it happen. It's a kind of concentration, never letting the bass line (which couldn't be more banal–a sort of ordinary 'walking bass') stop.” - Bamberger

31 “the thing that stands out in the Schnabel performance is his almost mysterious ability to create or to project a long line when the piece is basically slow-moving to static. What I mean by 'mysterious' is that trying to account for how that whole first phrase (even though only 4 bars long) is as if in one long breath. The other performers seem to stop at each bass note, with the right hand just embellishing it, but not make it move, even in its stasis. But if you try to listen for particular aspects–dynamics, rubato, balance–I, at least, can't say what he does to make that long breath happen. As he used to say, if you can HEAR it, you can make it happen. It's a kind of concentration, never letting the bass line (which couldn't be more banal–a sort of ordinary 'walking bass') stop.” - Bamberger

32 Schnabel: large scale gestures

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34 Coordination Regulate turn-taking and coordination Coordination – in speech through intonation patterns and pauses – in music through rate priming (tempo persistence) Turn-taking – in improvised music, elaboration upon previously heard ideas (Johnson-Laird 1991, Pressing 1988)

35 Emotional Response Prosodic features conveyed emotion in addition to structural features (mode) Most successful emotions (Gabrielsson & Juslin 1996, Krumhansl 1997, Juslin 2001): – Sad: slow tempo, low sound level, legato – Happy: fast tempo, high sound level, staccato

36 Assignment 1 1. Bring two versions of a piece of music that has variations in tempo or loudness to share with the class.

37 Assignment 1 2. Download and install Sonic Visualiser. Select a second segment of music containing tempo variations. Annotate the beat onsets for this same segment in your two audio examples using SonicVisualiser.Sonic Visualiser 3. Plot the Beat onsets on a timeline using Excel or Matlab.

38 Assignment 1 4. Plot the Tempo at each Beat as: a reciprocal of the inter-beat onset-interval a moving average over a window of three beats a moving average over a window of five beats another function of the beats data you generated, specifying clearly the function that you used

39 Office Hours Elaine Chew (ENG 2.12) – Tue 3pm-4pm and by appointment Dimitrios Giannoulis – Wed 1pm-3pm

40 Reference Palmer, C., & Hutchins, S. (2006). What is musical prosody? In B. H. Ross (Ed.), Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 46: Chew, E. (to appear). About Time: Strategies of Performance Revealed in Graphs. Visions of Research in Music Education Special Issue in honor of Jeanne Bamberger, ISSN

41 Coming Soon … Gerhard Widmer Werner Goebl Simon Dixon 2002, 2008


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