Quantitative and Qualitative Performance Research (PR)

PETAL - Quantitative and Qualitative Performance Research (PR)

The PR-component of the project encompasses a considerable amount of technology-based analysis of audio files but also a differentiated application of CTPSO-derived analytical work. The task at the outset will be to compile comprehensive discographies of the selected works, involving a media-adequate source criticism, particularly in the case of early recordings and the transfer of piano rolls (Cook 2009; 2013, 58–60, 140–142; Köpp 2011), and the digitization of all available recordings listed in these discographies.

The quantitative research will be performed in a software-based environment. Possibly Sonic Visualizer will suffice for most of the tasks to be carried out, while the CTPSO Software, developed as part of the CTPSO project, might also be used, particularly where the analysis of dynamics and timbre is concerned. (The CTPSO software, programmed in Java, complements sone-filtered spectral analysis functions, based on the software package Loris and its Reassigned Bandwidth-Enhanced Additive Sound Model, with annotation and playback functions that may be used during listening experiments.) Most prominently, the software-based analysis will involve the identification of the “main tempo” (Gabrielsson 1999, 540–542) of each movement/section of the analyzed works and the creation of tempo graphs of the overall macroform of each analyzed recording, assembling all recorded movements in one graph (see Utz 2017, Exs. 6–8). When analysing the main tempo of a piece, the main tempo’s stability or recognizability has to be addressed (see Cook 2013, 84f.). The degree of tempo flexibility can be compared by calculating the standard deviation of all tempo measurements within one movement (most usefully expressed in a ratio relating to the main tempo of the respective movement; see Utz 2016c, 15). It will also be important to calculate the metronomic duration of all analyzed movements (either from score editions that indicate metronome values or from a historically reconstructed tempo design as developed in Siegele 2014 for Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”; see Utz 2017) as comparison values. Further data to be assembled on this analytical level are the length of caesuras between movements as well as the absolute length of each movement (including and excluding repetitions) as well as of the entire cycle (including and excluding caesuras). All values will also be expressed in ratios in relationship to the overall duration (see Utz 2016c). Many insights can be gained from these data already. For example, by comparing the values for the standard deviation (= index of tempo flexibility) of all movements, one is able to deduce whether tempo flexibility is relatively stable over the entire cycle or whether it is used to single out specific movements (either by particularly “strict” or particularly “loose” tempo). Also, historical and geographical tendencies can be derived from these overall strategies (see Loesch/Brinkmann 2013; Cook 2013, 147–149, 204; Laubhold 2014 among others).

While this “bird’s eye view” on the analyzed corpus will be one key aspect in the discussion of performed macroform, this perspective surely benefits from being complemented with a perception-sensitive CTPSO analysis of the macroform. This will involve synoptic diagrams or tables that document the multiple layers of structure and meaning implicit in the macroformal design as documented for example in the PI’s analyses of Lachenmann (2016c), Kurtág (2016b) or Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” (2017, Diagramm 1). Basic principles in the analytical process will be derived from the morphosyntactic model but might also be developed in new perception-sensitive directions. The analyses will result in a “performative” environment consisting of various structural or narrative “threads” that run through the work, allowing to locate individual performance/interpretation within a broader framework of interpretative possibilities. In due course and in the case of the three works selected for the PETAL workshops, this framework will also serve as a basis for the dialogic research carried out during these workshops.

In addition, more local aspects of recorded performances will necessarily be considered. A key aspect to be handled in this research component is the relationship between local and global dimensions of “performed form”: Do the performers “mark” – or “unmark” – sections, phrases, movements? If yes, by which means? Which means do they use to create (possibly) “unexpected” points of attention and what significance might they have? How do statements and possible writings of the performers relate to the findings of the performance analyses? And which other influences or counter-examples can we identify to contextualize a particular performance strategy?

In the context of the PR-component, general studies on the methodology of empirical performance research will be taken into account (Gottschewski 1996; Clarke 2004; Cook 2009; Loesch/Weinzierl 2011 etc.) as well as empirical performance research on specific composers including studies on Bach such as Cook 1987a, Fabian/Schubert 2008 and Gingras et al. 2010, on Chopin such as Rink 2001, 2004, 2015, Ballstaedt 2003, Rothstein 2005 and Dodson 2011, or on Schoenberg such as Cramer 1996, Jackson 2005 and Dünki 2006.