Friday 7 June 2019. 10:30am-12, Roy Barnett Hall.
Chair: Philip Stoecker, Hofstra University
Modeling Polyrhythm in Twentieth- Century Western Music
Ève Poudrier, University of British Columbia
Little research has focused on how listeners from various cultures perceive and aesthetically evaluate complex rhythms. Furthermore, psychological research has generally been conducted with highly controlled stimuli that fail to represent the range of effects obtained through artistic treatment of the temporal dimension in polyphonic music. This project proposes a framework for computational music analysis using a corpus of 720 polyrhythmic examples extracted from 450 works by twenty composers, from Leoš Janáček (1854–1928) to Benjamin Britten (1913–1976). To allow for audio-visual exploration of correlations between structural features and aspects of musical production, these examples have been encoded and linked based on date and location of source works’ first public performance. In addition to improving accessibility to cultural resources, computational modeling of specific structural features (such as tempo range, relationship between parts, and associated musical parameters) will facilitate the design of more realistic stimuli to study listeners’ polyrhythmic experience.
Recent developments in computer modelling and OMR have led to new analytic methodologies in the analysis of modal counterpoint. Initiatives in computational analysis such as SIMSSA and the ELVIS project have provided platforms for data entry and information extraction that allows us to consider contrapuntal elements not heretofore generally investigated. However, there are limitations to the kinds of information that can be gleaned from computational analysis. One of these limitations comprises duration—in its role as timespans between discrete attacks of notes, the durational element is problematic for these programs. None of them has programming parameters that allow for this factor. The current paper investigates this constraint with a view to developing a methodology that takes into account the durational component, and postulates that the methodology will in turn better inform analysis of melodic accent in multi-voice contrapuntal works.
Music theorists suggest that the Western European tonal system is hierarchically organized (Lerdahl & Jackendoff, 1983). In support of this, cognitive studies have shown that listeners’ ratings of pitches on a goodness-of-fit scale coincide with the tonal hierarchy (Krumhansl, Bharucha, & Kessler, 1982; Krumhansl & Shepard, 1979; Vuvan, Prince, & Schmuckler, 2011). Statistical evidence also supports this hierarchy, with the most frequent pitches corresponding to those which are considered to be the most stable (Huron, 2006; Krumhansl, 1990; Temperley, 2009). Corpus studies of rock music reveal a different pitch distribution (De Clercq & Temperley, 2011; Temperley, 2018), and behavioural studies have shown that listeners hold different expectations in common-practice and rock contexts (Hughes, 2011; Vuvan & Hughes, 2018), suggesting that perception of the tonal hierarchy may vary when contextualized by style. Our study investigated the tonal hierarchies of rock and common-practice (classical) music in a probe-tone experiment. We predicted that the tonal hierarchy would be less differentiated in rock music than in classical music. Our findings suggest that tonality in Western musical contexts is not governed by a monolithic system. Rather, different musical styles engender differing structural expectancies.