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Interdisciplinary research on musical timbre

VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 49

									 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   sources: historical documents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

								
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