EuroMAC Session Proposal Ideas

We are interested in what you think about a potential session proposal for the 2014 EuroMAC in Belgium. What might be a good umbrella concept for the event? What might be an attractive format? Who might be good speakers? What would you like to contribute, if it happens? What topics/methodologies might it include (think beyond rhythm)?

Please post a short pitch for an “umbrella” concept (and imagined format) as a reply to this post; each pitch should be posted as a separate reply so that replies to the pitch can be threaded. Also post individual contributions ideas for self as a separate reply. For optimal usefulness, initial postings should be done by Monday, November 11. There are no strings attached!

2 thoughts on “EuroMAC Session Proposal Ideas

  1. My general impression of the music cognition field is that experiments often lead to fascinating theories about music, which are rarely put to work beyond the scope of the study in which they are set forth. Rather than organizing a session around new experiments and new theories, why not focus exclusively on applications of previous research?

    Which theories remain standing when confronted with the confounds of “real” music? What can theories of perception teach us about “real” music? How do existing theories have to be tweaked, if at all, in order to serve a more practical role? How can these theories enrich the perspective of active musicians? And conversely, how can tapping into the world of the performer enrich perception studies?

    In short, one might summarize my proposed “umbrella concept” as practical applications of previous research. So if one were to draw a distinction between theory and analysis, presentations would fall into the analysis camp.

    I’m not sure about specific speakers, but groups that combine expertise in perception/cognition, theory, and performance would be ideal.

    If I were to propose something of my own for such an event, I’d likely stick with my individual term project, which explores the intersection between performance, perception studies, and theories of musical form. That said, I’d likely tone down the “big” language, which wouldn’t be difficult given the subject matter.

  2. Conceptualizing a cognition session topic that is broader than “rhythm” but not diffuse to the point of meaninglessness is rather challenging. Given my knowledge of the cognition literature from our class, I might suggest a session that centers on the cognition of musical “structure,” in which structure is broadly defined as any parameter that (1) organizes the musical surface and (2) can be perceptually explored through experimentation. Such a session should be grounded enough for a wide variety of music educators and scholars—i.e. the session could be alternately sold as: (1) What do students “hear” when conceptualizing music through some organizational scheme or (2) What is the perceptual reality of some structure that music analysts regularly explore.

    As a session, I can imagine a series of papers (hopefully submitted beforehand) presented along a range of topics that follow a “perception of _____” paradigm through either experimental or speculative frameworks. Ideally these papers would be followed by a presentation from an invited speaker who has read them beforehand and prepared comments both critiquing and synthesizing the papers. If at all possible, the accepted papers would be similar enough so that they might be read in dialogue with one another and the discourse at large. (Limiting the scope of “structure” would certainly help facilitate.)

    For this session, my proposed paper would explore listeners’ recognition of melodies in unfamiliar rhythmic and metric settings. It could be formally called: “Can listeners’ recognize a melody from its pitch content in unfamiliar rhythmic and metric settings?” You may remember that earlier in the semester I responded negatively to the assertion that “Take Five” would be unrecognizable in a different (non-)metric realm (despite that tune’s long performance history of different metric realms including those that do not project a clear pulse, a performance history of which I suspect the author was unaware). My hypothesis is that familiar pitch content can sometimes supersede unfamiliar rhythm and meter, and experienced listeners in particular genres where this sort of manipulation is common, such as jazz of the last 50 years, would be more apt to recognize melodies than listeners with other backgrounds.

    As such, I would test listener’s abilities to recognize melodies in their altered states. A basic experimental design would be to present a series of metrically altered melodies (both performed and mechanically produced) and have listeners attempt to identify the melodies. Then, I would present the pieces in their original formats and have listeners attempt to identify the melodies. Finally, I could use descriptive and correlative statistics to suggest a relationship between rhythmic/metric deformation and melody identification.

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