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Interdisciplinary research on musical timbre Bringing together sciences, humanities and musical practice Richard Parncutt University of Graz Invited presentation at the Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology, Montreal, Canada, March 2005 Objectives of presentation examine research frameworks apply CIM concept to timbre guide future research questions not answers Structure of presentation 1. Definition of “musicology” 2. Structure of musicology 3. Interdisciplinarity 4. Timbre 5. Relevance 6. CIM05 Part 1 Definition of “musicology” “Musicology” in theory (all) scholarship about (all) music cf. Grove, MGG “Musicology” in practice music history of western cultural elites sources: historical documents associated methods and techniques tradition since 19th century “Musicology” journals Acta musicologica Archiv für Musikwissenschaft Current Musicology Journal of the American Musicological Society Journal of Musicological Research Journal of Musicology Musikforschung Revue de Musicologie Studien zur Musikwissenschaft ... plus many musicology journals of smaller countries Tacit assumptions of “musicology” (Obviously) (more) important: history western culture and music music of cultural elites Eurocentricity? 19th-century colonialism? Solutions: Journals Acknowledge problem in preface Change name, e.g. Western Music Western Artificial Music History of Notated Western Music Change scope of journal Part 2 Structure of musicology Repertoire-based musicologies: Trends “Musicology” Ethnomusicology “music” score part of culture readership “musicologists” interdisciplinary repertory lost disappearing focus composer, score performance concepts individual, idiosyncratic, culture, typical, tradition, history, development, change, social function, musical autonomy, cultural uniqueness formal unity authority scholar informants Source: Jonathan Stock , Current Musicology, 1998 Tripartite model: USA “musicology” / theory / ethnomusicology Problems: “musical sciences” are not “musicology” too little communication between musicology/theory and ethnomusicology Tripartite model: Germany historical systematic ethno- (tacit) western sciences, abstract, non-western, def. cultural elites interdisciplinary non-elite mus contexts mus. phenomena mus. contexts modern analysis; acoustics, psychology, elite, popular, content periods, sociology; aesthetics, folk; continents, genres; philosophy, physiology, regions, genres, cult. stud. media, computing... subcultures prob- (none) remainder? auxiliary? lems larger and more diverse fewer professorships? (German) Tripartite model: Problems not justified: central position of history of western cultural elites not integrated: musical practice not classified: theory, gender, jazz/pop, prehistory not enough: communication among subdisciplines not unified: musicology A personal apology I love the “western bourgeous canon” History is not less important Aim: new balance Evolution of disciplinary structures top-down attempts to categorize bottom-up quasi-random expansion Musicology: Alternative structure A specifically theory, analysis, composition, musical performance humanities history, cultural studies, philosophy sciences acoustics, psychology, physiology, media, computing mixtures sociology, anthropology, prehistory practice education, medicine, therapy Musicology: Alternative structure B status focus examples core “music itself” theory, analysis, composition, performance central musical contexts acoustics, anthropology, cult.stud., and phenomena history, psychology, sociology peripheral support of core computing, psychoacoustics, and central philosophy, physiology, prehistory neighboring non-mus. culture art, literature, linguistics & communication practical individual needs education, therapy, medicine Part 3 Interdisciplinarity Interdisciplinarity boundaries of disciplines are fuzzy disciplines are more or less established disciplines are more or less distant not whether ID, but how much degree of ID is a matter of opinion role of collaboration motivation, flexibility, curiosity, daring Interdisciplinarity within musicology sciences humanities practice content object subject action methods empirical intersubjective trial and error Interdisciplinary challenges: content and method boundaries content-method combinations Part 4 Timbre Philosophy of reality physical, experiential, abstract (Popper) equally valid exist in parallel clearly distinguish Description in humanities and sciences in music, art, literature role of language and linguistics sciences: same semantic differential can describe completely unrelated multidimensional objects psychology: description of other sensations Structure of timbre research sciences non-biolog. physics, electronics, computing human (neuro-) physiology, psychology human- repertoire theory, analysis, semiotics, reception ities context ethnomusicology, cultural studies musical structure composition, improvisation, practice orchestration, arrangement sound voice, gesture, emotion, imitation; synthesis, processing, recording, MIR Specific issues in timbre research brainstorming questions not answers Nature and origins of timbre Function: source recognition Phylogenetic: Ontogenetic: prehuman hominids everyday modern life Evolution and ecology interaction between organisms and sound sources: • perceptible sound structures • affordances of sound sources Aural sensitivity Useful sound parameters carry reliable information about the source. Phase information is lost when direct and reflected sound are superposed So ear is insensitive to phase except in attack portion Other senses and blending sight (colour), smell, taste, (tactile) feel what “goes together” or blends? analogies and differences between blended timbres, colors, smells etc? Synaesthesia and timbre interactions between senses investigate with Stroop paradigm nature-nurture question Categorical perception Two aspects: mapping of continuum to labels better discriminability at boundaries Interdisciplinary question: cultural functions and implications? Timbre and harmony What is timbre of a fused chord? timbral similarity of chords similarity of pitch-class sets Visual vs. auditory aesthetics Commonalities scene, gestalt holistic vs analytic foreground vs background Why so little interaction between… IAEA vs ICMPC? schools of art and music? Timbre and the body physiology: skin and basilar membrane ethnomusicology: ritual culture: gender, sexuality, class, race hedonism and quality of life Music as a virtual person social functions of music philosophy: persona theory music as virtual discourse or theatre human qualities of music (Watt & Ash) strong experiences; loneliness prenatal cog. representation of mother infant timbral acquisition via body Timbral aesthetics evolutionary psychology: attractiveness = ability to reproduce Is there an absolute timbral aesthetic? Is “attractive” timbre smooth, voice-like, energetic, original? History of timbral fashion typical timbres of styles and periods sociology of musical preference timbre and rapid music recognition survival value: language, dialect, group timbre and personal musical identity Audiation of timbre empirical exploration? accuracy, stability? behavioral, experiential, neurological... relation to culture and repertoire Piano “touch” and “tone” mechanics of action physical descriptions of real tones timbre perception physiology, cognition, motor control gestural and timbral ideals Part 5 Relevance Practical relevance help performers understand communication give composers theories and tools audiology: timbre of phonemes room acoustics: timbre of performance space artificial speech and robotics recording commercial, e.g. corporate identity Social relevance public interest understanding art and culture market value Political relevance Do world events have timbre? Example: Penderecki's Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima Can public awareness of political issues by raised by means of timbre? Example: multimedia advertising logos Part 6 CIM05 Timbre of CIM05 diverse, open explorative, creative risky, radical constructive, critical Success of CIM05 BALANCE: two main disciplines of presentation sciences, humanities, practice history vs. other disciplines western vs. non-western music elite music vs. pop/folk Contribution to musicology unity, identity academic quality relevance Last CIM order abstract book at reception Next CIM(s) Tallin, Estonia 2007: Singing ??? Thanks to: Caroline Traube Serge Lacasse Michel Duchesneau ...for promoting the concept of interdisciplinary musicology
"Interdisciplinary research on musical timbre"