Emotional Expression in Piano Interpretation: The Case Study of Carnival Op. 9 by R. Schumann and Sonatas Op. 110 and 111 by L. V. Beethoven

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English
Type: 
Master, Doctorate and Post-Doctorate
Main researcher: 
Teresa Palma Pereira
Abstract: 

The objective of this proposed project is to characterise pianists’ representative performances by calculating and checking precisely the essential lines and main trends of the performing practice used in renowned national piano schools. Studies and prior investigation (Lourenço, 2005) show the existence of national traditions of specific interpretative practices in defined communities of pianists who share similar characteristics in aesthetic, technical, historical and reportorial terms. We analysed primary sources, namely the literature on piano teaching, in articulation with an empirical analysis methodology of audio examples and the application of an assessment grid.


National piano schools are divided into three main nucleuses: The Russian School, the French School and the German School. Their systematic identification and study will safeguard and valorise the intangible heritage of music of European origin. This project also intends to contribute to an analysis of the investigation into performance practice, given that pianists employ their entire body to transmit and communicate the spiritual, emotional and dramatic essence of the music. 
 Piano playing increases muscular activity (Breithaupt, 1905), directly linked to muscular contractions and the posture of the body (Ortmann, 1929). To demonstrate the proof of the association of piano playing and physical implications, the posture of the head has been studied for several years in direct relation to odontological structures, exerting influence on the biomechanical behaviour of craniomandibular dysfunctions and occlusion (Shiau et al, 1990). Some studies relate that the position of the head affects the position of the mandible and of the muscles of mastication (Lee et al, 1995), demonstrating the close link between improved cervical posture and the head and improved symptoms of TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) (Armijo Olivo et al., 2006). The act of playing also causes hyperactivity in the muscles of mastication in association with postural muscles, namely the trapezius muscle as was demonstrated by this team (Lourenço, Clemente et al., 2009).
 The methodology to be employed is based on a musicological approach, closely allied to the application of the latest metric tools and technological methods, which will allow a precise analysis of data in many dimensions, classifying and synthesising the different variables making up the performative practice. The multimodal analysis of the musical semantics through the recording of the piano performance is based on extracting the specific characteristics of each piano school by applying:

  1. The movement of the fingers and the articulation identified by a multimodal approach by recording and extracting characteristics of performance haptic interfacing with the Disklavier piano (the Yamaha Grand Piano measures finger pressure).

  2. Biomechanical data relating the association between the posture of the cranio-cervico-mandibular complex through indicators obtained by sensors applied to the mastication and postural muscles of the performer, by analysing the surface electromiograph.

  3. Data describing physical movements extracted through video footage digital analysis software.

  4. Musical performance characterisation data measured by the software analysis of High Resolution Digital Audio.

  5. Musical performance characterisation data measured by analysing the questionnaires made on the actual performance. With these results it is possible to analyse and process the data, extracting relevant results with data mining quantitative models in correlation with extensive multimodal datasets.
Objectives: 

With this project it will be possible to attain the following results:

  1. A greater understanding and awareness of the true essence of European Piano Schools acquired through the use of an innovative analysis (multi-modality), which will provide new understandings on the applications of these techniques.

  2. The availability of a multimodal database of examples of pianists’ performances, in the terms of the classification and storage of data as practiced and accepted by the international scientific community.
  3. A demonstration and application of the concept of the determining influence of piano schools on piano performance.
  4. An innovative line of action to be applied in design areas such as Sonic Interaction Design, Content Based Recommendation Systems or Expressive Generative Music.
State: 
Finalized
Research group: 
Computer Music and Sound
Summary: 


The objective of this proposed project is to characterise pianists’ representative performances by calculating and checking precisely the essential lines and main trends of the performing practice used in renowned national piano schools. Studies and prior investigation (Lourenço, 2005) show the existence of national traditions of specific interpretative practices in defined communities of pianists who share similar characteristics in aesthetic, technical, historical and reportorial terms.
05/2014