Inferring musical structure through bodily gestures

  • MacRitchie J
  • Buck B
  • Bailey N
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Despite the idiosyncrasies present in bodily motion during musical performances, it is suggested that these movements are not incidental but instead contribute to the meaning of performed music. Nine pianists performing two Chopin Preludes are recorded using Vicon motion capture, in synchrony with audio and MIDI recordings. Using principal components analysis (PCA) on the recorded upper body motion, motion profiles for each pianist are formed from the weighted combinations of these components. This measure of global body movement produces a comparable measure across performers and pieces, whilst keeping the performers’ interpretative gestures in view of their whole concept of the piece intact. This study proposes that performers use these motions as a way of corporeally manifesting their interpretative choices. It is suggested that their overall body motion is underscored by such structures as interpreted from the written music. Results show evident underlying musical structure across performers’ motion profiles. These profiles are seen to be constructed from functions of harmonic and melodic relationships in the score. These findings hold significant implications for research into music perception, pedagogy and development of computational technologies for the analysis of music performance.

Author-supplied keywords

  • embodiment
  • gesture
  • musical structure
  • phrasing
  • principal components analysis

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