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AMPS: Past Seminar Series

Past Seminar Series

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2007 Seminar Series


Factors Facilitating and Inhibiting Instrumental Music Learning
Speaker : Jennifer StGeorge University of Newcastle
Date :9th Mar

Abstract:

This study seeks to identify the factors that facilitate and inhibit participation in instrumental music learning, and is a component of a larger doctoral project which uses both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Questionnaires and interviews with students, parents, teachers and members of the community formed the basis of the analysis. This paper reports on the data collected from 376 student questionnaires and thirty interviews with the students who had discontinued learning a musical instrument during their school years and music teachers. The questionnaire results indicated that discontinuers were significantly less confident and less self-efficacious in their practice than continuers.

Qualitative data included themes concerning students' preferred mode of learning - 'learning with others', and 'learning with intention' , as well as themes representing their understanding of learning as either an 'acquisition' or as a 'trajectory'. Musical experience as personal and meaningful was common to almost all students. Teachers believed that discontinuation was strongly linked both to students' unproductive attitudes to learning, and to parents' lack of encouragement and practice support.

Teachers also assumed a range of pedagogical responsibilities, the most important of which was to adapt and modify the learning environment to motivate the student. Comparison of student and teacher conceptions of learning revealed considerable differences regarding processes and outcomes.

Overall, the findings provide insight into student and teacher perceptions of learning processes, skill acquisition and musical encounters, and extend previous understandings of the process of discontinuation from musical instrument learning.

Virtual Music: The Theater of the Ear
Speaker : Prof. William Duckworth Department of Music, Bucknell University
Date :11th Jul

Abstract:

A decade ago, on June 10th, 1997, Cathedral, an on-going interactive work of music and art, made its debut on the web. The creation of New York-based media artist Nora Farrell and composer William Duckworth, it includes the PitchWeb virtual instrument, that allow site visitors to perform with each other online; the Cathedral Band, a group of improvising musicians who give periodic live performances from venues around the world, during which global PitchWeb players frequently sit in; and the Website, which features a variety of interactive musical, artistic, and text-based experiences, all focused on 5 mystical moments in time (the building of the Pyramids and Chartres Cathedral, the Ghost Dance Movement among the Plains Indians of North America, the dropping of the Atomic Bomb, and the birth of the World Wide Web).

In his first visit to the MARCS Auditory Laboratories, Duckworth will discuss his work online, including a display of the sights and sounds of Cathedral, and a behind the scenes look at the next phase of his and Farrell¹s work, The Orpheus Trilogy, a two-year unfolding of podcasts, live stage performances, and public art, performed on iPods, mobile phones, and laptops. Culminating in the streets and promenades of the South Bank Parklands in Brisbane on 31 August 2007, iOrpheus is a series of visual and sonic encounters, with performers and audience moving through actual and virtual space in an audible and visual sound-dance, and with tableaus of the central moments of the Orpheus legend appearing and reappearing in various unexpected locales. The intent of this public opera is to create guided moments where park visitors -- using their everyday digital devices -- may interact artistically as they move through the events of their daily lives.

Duckworth's appearance at the MARCS Auditory Laboratories is sponsored in part by the Fulbright Foundation.

Musical tension: Linking Cognition and Emotion
Speaker : Carol Krumhansl Department of Psychology, Cornell University
Date :16th Jul

Implications of a Theory of Tonal Tension in Music for Cognitive Theory
Speaker : Carol Krumhansl Department of Psychology, Cornell University
Date :17th Jul

A Comparative Study of Spoken and Sung Voice in Performance
Speaker : Jean Callaghan Sydney, Australia Edward McDonald University of
Date :3rd Aug

Abstract:

1. Background in Music Performance

Singing performance involves the expression of musical and linguistic features of a complex musico-verbal text (Callaghan & McDonald 2002) through vocal tone and word articulation. Western classical singing follows the basic maxim of the Italian tradition of vocal pedagogy ‘One sings as one speaks’, and classical singers are trained using the Italian language in order to facilitate vocal resonance and minimal interference of consonants, a feature of that language. This tradition becomes problematic, however, when applied to a language like English which shows a different balance of vocalic and consonantal articulation. Voice science now offers acoustic analysis of aspects of the vocal sound such as pitch, loudness, and timbre (onset, vibrato, and vocal harmonics), clarifying the differences between spoken and sung language, and allowing a more nuanced understanding of how they might be combined in performance.

2. Background in Linguistics

Detailed descriptions have been developed within linguistics of the articulation and phonation (intonation) patterns involved in spoken language (Catford, 2001; Ladefoged, 2006). Phonetic studies on spoken language tend to concentrate on articulation rather than phonation, while those on sung language tend to the opposite bias, due to their greater respective elaboration in those areas. The normally assumed “Italianisation” of vocal articulation in classical singing (Nair, 1999), introduces a further bias by ironing out the more complex consonantal combinations and vowel distinctions of spoken English.

3. Aims

Although previous research has addressed broad differences between speech and singing (Miller, 1996; Nair, 1999), it has not done so in a specific performance context. The current research aims to clarify the distinctive differences between spoken and sung voice, and problematise the accommodation necessary between them in performance, through a detailed acoustic comparison of spoken and sung versions of the same English text.

4. Main Contribution

The poem ‘Old Sir Faulk’ was set to music twice, firstly spoken over instrumental accompaniment (Walton & Sitwell, 1922), and subsequently arranged as a song with piano accompaniment (Walton, 1932). The current study takes as its data the vocal part of each version as performed by the second author in his native Australian accent. The basic rhythmic parameters of both versions are determined by the musical accompaniment, while the articulatory features are held constant by the use of an authentic spoken dialect of English, allowing the more specific contrasts to emerge more clearly.

Some preliminary differences between the spoken and sung versions can be identified as follows:

* duration of phonemes: determined in sung version by melodic line; in spoken version determined by intonation contour
* transitions between phonemes: minimized in sung version, maximized in spoken version
* pitch: wider pitch range in sung version, more complex pitch contour in spoken version with more abrupt changes
* rhythmic precision: more precise in sung version, greater variation in spoken version, particularly in relation to unstressed syllables

5. Implications

The performance of a song represents a compromise between the musical and linguistic features of the complex musico-verbal text. A clearer understanding of the nature of both should allow singers to strike a better balance between the two in performance, with positive implications for pedagogy. Text-based analyses such as this study also provide a controlled context for musicologists and linguists / phoneticians to explore the extent of mutual influence between spoken and sung vocal features within a particular style and across different musical styles.

6. References

Callaghan, J. (2000). Singing and Voice Science. San Diego, CA:Singular.

Callaghan, J. & McDonald, E. (2003).‘The Singer’s Text: Music, Language and the Expression of Meaning’ Australian Voice. 9, 42-48.

Catford, J.C. (2001). A Practical Introduction to Phonetics. 2nd edition. Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics. Oxford: OUP.

Miller, Richard (1996). ‘Si canta come si parla?’ and ‘How Singing is Not Like Speaking’ (pp. 47-52). In On the Art of Singing. New York: OUP.

Nair, Garyth (1999). Voice - Tradition and Technology. San Diego, CA: Singular.

Walton, William and Sitwell, Edith (1922). Façade - An Entertainment. London: Faber.

Walton, William (1932). ‘Old Sir Faulk’. In Three Songs, Poems by Edith Sitwell. Oxford: OUP.

Using and Hearing Greek Byzantine Chant in Contemporary Composition
Speaker : Christina Abdul-Karim PhD Candidate, University of New South Wal
Date :31st Aug

Abstract:

This paper investigates composer and audience positions on the uses of Greek Byzantine chant in 20th - 21st Century music. Composers’ intentions and reasons for using chant, and the reception of chant-influenced works are considered. The incorporation of direct chant quotes and the use of chant elements with non-chant musical influences in compositions is a trend that varies according to method, technique and extent among composers.

The placement of chants into new musical contexts raises phenomenological questions of experience and understanding of the music, for listeners of different levels of exposure to chant. Qualitative interviews with a variety of ‘listener’ subjects have been useful to gain an insight into how chant-influenced works have been received by a variety of listeners. The listener subjects, who have different levels of experience with Byzantine music, hymnography and associated Orthodox Christian Theology, have demonstrated different capacities of chant reception and musical understanding, including formalistic, semiotic and affective.

This research paper offers a clearer insight into psychological impact and reception of chant within non-liturgical works among varied audiences. It uniquely investigates and identifies the processes of understanding that engage specific listeners of chant-influenced music.