DepositPerception, Pitch, and Musical Chords

In this dissertation, I argue that hearing a musical chord—a simultaneity of two or more notes perceived as a single object—is perceptually different from hearing separate concurrent tones, and that the object status of chords shapes our experience of listening to harmonic music. Following an outline of the acoustic and contextual cues that promote chordal listening, I offer a series of performance strategies based on these cues that maximize the likeliness of hearing a sonority as a chord. I then argue that these strategies played a role in the development of the Western practice of harmonic tonality, and that the design and use of polyphonic instruments in the late Renaissance period enabled many of these strategies to be applied within musical practice. A further investigation of contextual and experience-based factors in chord perception is conducted in a pair of experiments, in which the listener is asked to recognize or “hear out” a tone from within a three-tone sonority. A listener who perceives a sonority as a chord is better able to perceive its emergent features, which are defined as properties of the whole that are not necessarily properties of its parts. I examine the emergent feature of pitch—a familiar property of the musical tone in both perceptual and theoretical descriptions—using the virtual pitch model proposed by Ernst Terhardt, and I outline the conditions in which a listener might perceive a chord as bearing an emergent pitch. An analysis of the opening sonority of Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms gives an example of how chord pitch may be used as a compositional resource. Drawing upon the conclusions of this analysis, I suggest how further research on perceiving chords’ emergent features—in particular the perceptual correlate of the music-theoretical concept of chord quality—could be applied to develop a more complete understanding of how we experience chords.

MemberStefanie Acevedo

…Society for Music Theory
Society for Music Perception and Cognition
International Association for the Study of Popular Music
International Society of Music Information Retrieval
College Music Society
Broadcast Music, Inc.
Sigma Alpha Iota
Kappa Kappa Psi…
…nd Eva Schuck. In Song Interpretation in 21st-Century Pop Music, Vol. II, edited by Ralf von Appen, André Doehring, Dietrich Helms, and Allan F. Moore. Taylor & Francis Publishing (In Press).

“Effects of metrical encoding on melody recognition,” co-authored with Peter Q. Pfordresher and David Temperley. Music Perception 31(4)….

MemberGuy Birkin

Senior Research Executive at CFE Research, Leicester, UK, an independent company doing social research on education, employment, wellbeing for government, public authorities and education providers. I work on design, field work and analysis of research, specializing in literature reviews, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and data visualization. My work is mainly in the area of education, particularly education in the arts and in science/STEM subjects, in relation to socioeconomic disadvantage, gender and ethnicity. Independently, I continue my academic research on aesthetic complexity – investigating how complexity is perceived, understood and used in visual art and music. This research supports and is supported by my creative practice – generative music and visual art.

TopicLivestream: John Roeder, \”Comparing Musical Cycles Across the World\”

John Roeder\’s keynote address for the Rocky Mountain Music Scholars Conference at the University of Arizona will take place at 2:15 p.m. Eastern time (about one hour from now). The title is \”Comparing Musical Cycles Across the World.\” Please tune in here: Abstract: Growing interest in world-music analysis has highlighted the challenges, long recognized by […]

DepositBossa Nova and Twenty-First Century Commerce: Branded Ubiquitous Music and the Global Bourgeoisie

In the United States, most middle-class listeners often have passive contact with bossa nova. In recent decades, this contact is often in the context of restaurants, bars, and increasingly in spaces more directly affiliated with commerce such as clothing stores, coffee shops, and bookstores. As common as bossa nova and other Brazilian musical styles are in commercial spaces, few have questioned why that genre above others has been uniquely poised to fulfill a variety of ubiquitous music needs, and more to the point, what social and cultural transactions occur when the music is placed in these contexts. This essay seeks to understand the ease with which bossa nova, in all of its guises, has found an extended life as ubiquitous music in outlets where audiences are least likely to be paying attention to what they are hearing. While the practice of using bossa nova in restaurants and bars has a precedent through its popularity among jazz musicians, this essay focuses on the role of pre-recorded music in these contexts. It draws from interviews conducted with independent record industry personnel in Brazil as well as with the producers of “canned” music content for a variety of retail contexts. This essay is in conversation with debates of distracted sensory perception from auditory / sound studies and media studies. By treating bossa nova as sound more than as a musical text in these environments, this essay foregrounds the unique function of this musical style as conducive to commerce.

DepositNotes for a Phenomenology of Musical Performance

Understanding performance can not only increase our theoretical grasp of music but reveal something of the general character of human experience. Performance evokes a condition that affects the fundamental aspects of experience: the perception of time and space, of the body and sensation, and of personal and social experience. A phenomenological description of performance from within the situation reveals a transformation of ordinary experience. Time and space are transfigured, body awareness and the sensory system are intensified, the dynamic character of musical experience is heightened, and its personal character is enlarged to encompass both audience and tradition, as the listener becomes an active participant in this process.

Deposit‘Quiet These Paintings Are’: the function of slowness in doom metal styles

Doom metal music is comprised of richly varied styles. These styles sound significantly different from time to time, yet they still are referred under a doom umbrella. One compelling trait emerges among these seemingly disparate styles. Especially when compared to other heavy and extreme metal music styles, these doom styles always stay on the slower end of the spectrum. This idea of slowness should not be only understood from a pace standpoint, rather, it is the slowing down and lowering of different aspects in the music. Besides the heaviness or the ‘low’ apparent in the tempi of these musics, one notices it in tessitura occupied, in song structures, in lyrics, in dynamics and in the perception of the music. According to Scott & O’Doyle, lifelessness and deceleration of doom achieves immediacy by opening up a reflective space and this decline ‘to the point of timelessness’ leads to affirmation in the music. Furthermore, Coggins also explores drone doom as mystical texts providing therapeutic spaces for the listener. With the help of these discussions, a group of doom styles materialises: funeral doom, death doom, and gothic doom. This presentation examines these styles under the light of ‘low’ness in order to show the coherence of these styles in both cultural and musical terms. It is important to note that these styles show crucial divergence from both other doom styles and other metal music cultures. This divergence requires exploration in order to correctly categorise these musical cultures, an exploration which only then bends to deeper connections among these styles. This presentation also proposes to comment on these connections through an expedition into the cultures in question keeping the function of the ‘low’ in mind.

DepositShipibo Laughing Songs and the Transformative Faculty: Performing or Becoming the Other (2013)

Shipibo indigenous people perform a sophisticated array of vocal musical genres, including short ‘laughing songs’ called osanti. These song-jokes make fun of certain non-humans, mostly animals. They are by definition sung from within the non-humans’ perspective. Osanti are only performed by trained specialists in indigenous medicine and sorcery (médicos), because it is crucial that the performer owns the faculty of transforming into the animal in question, although in osanti the singers do not transform. Songs involving actual transformation are not meant for laughing: these are magical songs including interaction with and transformation into animals or spirits that possess a more ample radius of perception and action than ‘Real Human’ beings. Osanti songs, with their position between secular and magical songs, allow for an analysis of humour and laughing in the construction of the indigenous ontology, thereby questioning some generalisations made in theories of animism and perspectivism.

MemberLauren Osborne

My interests revolve broadly around perception and experience of religious texts. My areas of specialization include Islamic Studies, the Qur’an and Qur’anic Studies, Islam and music, and Sensory Studies in the study of religion. My current project is a book on meaning and experience across the sound, text, and performance of the recited Qur’an called, Recite! Aesthetics and Experience of the Recited Qur’an. In this work, I take a combined hermeneutic and ethnographic approach in considering the recited Qur’an in a wide range of contexts, illuminating the theoretical possibilities for interrelationships and discontinuities between different realms of meaning. In my research and teaching more broadly, I am interested in interactions between discursive and non-discursive meanings of religious texts—the Qur’an most specifically—, as well as sense experience within Islamic Studies and Religious Studies. I am currently the co-chair of the Qur’an Unit in the American Academy of Religion.

MemberStephen Etheridge

I was awarded my PhD from the University of Huddersfield in 2014. My research explored contested  themes in social history and musicology. Even though brass bands were a national movement I analysed the  bands of the Southern Pennines to explain why  brass bands became such a powerful metonym of northern working-class culture. I found that this cliché emerged from ca. 1840-1914 through a number of elements that were  largely external to the brass band movement. I have published on brass bands and aspects of class, gender and region. My ongoing research continues into the social networks that emerged from musical groups in the long nineteenth century and beyond. My current research projects include women and gender in military bands; jazz and working-class identity in a 1930’s Staffordshire town, and the role of discotheques in provincial life throughout the 1970s and 1980s. I have led adult-education courses at the University of Huddersfield and the University of York, and I have contributed research to the AHRC-funded  Making Music in Manchester during World War One  project, based at the Royal Northern College of Music. I also write for the northern ezine Northern Soul as a music correspondent. I am seeking post-doctoral opportunities.