Year 1

On 1 October 2006 the project commenced and Neta Spiro took up her post as Research Fellow. She spent the first months of the project exploring the nature of repetition in notated music and in recorded performances, and the relationship between the two. Preliminary findings were presented to a CHARM staff symposium in January 2007. Thereafter Nicolas Gold joined the project and worked together with Neta Spiro in developing new analytical approaches. Together they devised a method that combines a simple pattern-matching approach with Formal Concept Analysis to allow the exploration of repeating timing patterns in performance. This work was presented at the CHARM specialist seminar in April 2007. (See here for details of relevant publications on the FCA approach.)

Alongside this more technical work, project director John Rink presented a series of analytical concept papers related to the project during a short course that he taught in Autumn 2006 at the Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil, and in March 2007 as an invited keynote speaker at the conference of the Gruppo Analisi e Teorio Musicale (GATM), in Rimini, Italy (where his paper was entitled ‘Definire/Ridefinire: I “motivi” dell’esecuzione’). Exposure to the project was also provided through other presentations detailed here.

Year 2

Considerable methodological development and analytical work occurred in the second year of the project. Neta Spiro and Nicolas Gold refined the Formal Concept Analysis approach explored in the first phase of the project, and Neta Spiro presented this work at the International Symposium on Performance in Porto (November 2007) and the Inaugural International Conference on Music Communication Science in Sydney (December 2007) (further details may be found on the presentations and publications pages). Additional collaborative activity with Nicolas Gold resulted in a second program using Self-Organising Maps and a database, as a result of which nuanced repetitions of performance information based on timing were extensively identified. This second program (described in several of the project publications) is very flexible: it can take in any amount of performance information and process it to allow for finely grained comparisons. The initial results were propitious, both in general and with regard to the aims of this project specifically, in that they not only confirmed but (more importantly) extended beyond the observations and conclusions that musicians and musicologists alike might otherwise be able to make about the ways in which given performances are both expressive and expressively coherent. Developmental papers on this research were presented by the entire project team at the CHARM staff seminar in February 2008 and by Nicolas Gold and Neta Spiro at CREST (KCL) in March 2008.

A book chapter was commissioned for New Perspectives on Music and Gesture, ed. Anthony Gritten and Elaine King (Ashgate, forthcoming 2010), which the three members of the project team co-authored. Two peer-reviewed publications on performance timing repetitions using pattern matching and Formal Concept Analysis (arising from the Porto and Sydney conferences) were also produced during year 2 (see here for details).

The project team focused in particular on Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 3 (for which relevant publications by John Rink already existed) and the Mazurkas Op. 24 No. 2 and Op. 63 No. 3 (for which data generated by the CHARM Mazurkas project could be employed). Neta Spiro and Andrew Earis (RCM/CHARM) also investigated measures of intensity and brightness in Bach’s Suites for Cello, while other works by Bach were targeted for collaborative work on performance motifs to be carried out by Neta Spiro in conjunction with Dorottya Fabian (UNSW) and Andrew Earis.

Final phase

Further refinement of the Self-Organising Maps (SOM) technique occurred during the last phase of the project, as a result of which nuanced repetitions of performance information based on timing and dynamics were extensively identified. It therefore became possible to compare global and raw timing and dynamic data with relative timing and dynamic patterns, in conjunction with what might be termed ‘music-analytic listening’. With each piece chosen, the questions that arose and the ways in which the music could be approached were so numerous that the project team limited their application of the SOM method to the Mazurkas Op. 24 No. 2 and Op. 63 No. 3 by Chopin (as noted above). The software was designed to be applicable to more pieces without significant modification, however. The focus on Chopin during this phase of the project complemented the research within Nicholas Cook’s CHARM project. In order to compare the results of the project team’s analyses with listeners’ perceptions, two initial studies were carried out. The aim of the first was to explore whether or not the patterns identified using the SOMs could be perceived by listeners. To this end, listeners were presented with a comparison task which involved listening to and comparing two three-beat patterns and assessing whether they were the same or different. The results showed that the differences between patterns were indeed perceptible. The aim of the second study was to assess more generally whether the characteristics revealed in the analyses of performances were also identified by listeners. To this end, examples of different performances of the pieces that the project team had been analysing were played to listeners. The results indicated a complex relationship between performance patterns identified in our theoretical study and listeners’ perceptions. (For further details see the fifth CHARM Newsletter (pdf file).)

Papers on the most advanced work were presented by John Rink and Neta Spiro at the ICMPC conference in Sapporo, Japan in August 2008 (see details here), and by John Rink at a symposium on analysis and performance at Princeton University in December 2008. He also gave papers on the project at the National University of Ireland (Maynooth) in May 2008, at a meeting of CHARM’s Academic Advisory Board in December 2008, and at Middlesex University in February 2009. Finally, he was invited to give a Keynote Paper focusing on this project at PERFORMA 09 in Aveiro, Portugal in May 2009. During the final phase, the project team also prepared an article for the second CHARM special issue of Musicae Scientiae (see here for details).