Volume 6 of the international, peer-reviewed online journal Music Performance Research is now available at www.mpr-online.net. It includes six articles illustrating the wide range of approaches taken by researchers with backgrounds in very different disciplines to the study of music performance, and a report on the CMPCP/ Performance Studies Network conference held at Cambridge University in April 2013.
‘The improvisatory approach to classical music performance: An empirical investigation into its characteristics and impact’ represents a ground-breaking collaboration between a performer / teacher (David Dolan), performer / researcher (Eugene Feygelson), music psychologist (John Sloboda), mathematical physicist (Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen) and neuroscientist (Björn Crüts). Roger Dean, Kirk Olsen and Freya Bailes ask ‘Is there a “rise-fall temporal archetype” in the music of Joseph Haydn?’ with references to recordings and scores; Amanda Glauert considers the ways in which the philosophical ideas of Herder can be implemented by musicians in ‘“Do you know the land?” Unfolding the secrets of the lyric in performance’. In ‘The reconstitution of historical piano recordings: Vladimir de Pachmann plays Chopin’s Nocturne in E Minor’ Nigel Nettheim makes gramophone and piano roll recordings accessible to the general listener and music performance student alike; Martin Blain discusses ‘Composition-as-research: Connecting Flights II for Clarinet Quartet – a research methodology for composers’ in the light of practice-as-research methods more commonly utilised by performers. Finally, Biranda Ford describes a project involving students from different disciplines: ‘Approaches to performance: A comparison of music and acting students’ concepts of preparation, audience and performance’.
The Journal of Music Therapy focuses on publishing scholarly article that advance the field of music therapy through multiple different means. These articles have a variety of research approaches; they can be quantitative, historical or theoretical and can range from specific effects to professional fields to more general foundational topics. The most recent issue from the Summer of 2013 presents an article promoting mixed methods research in music therapy, as well as articles at focus on specific empirical studies, such as the effect of music therapy on emotional-approach coping.
This journal focuses less on rhythmic articles than it does on emotional aspects of music cognition, such as music and emotion, music and expertise learning, music and social development, etc. However, when it does discuss rhythmic cognition (for an example, see the March 2013 issue and its discussions about how expert musicians treat temporal structure), it does it thoroughly in a scientific way, not necessarily intended for the lay person.
However, the very articles are scattered in topic, and it’s difficult to narrow down on one concept in particular. Also, these articles are predominantly centered in psychological research, and not all of the psychologists presenting work are musicians. I would be surprised if all of these articles (though to be fair, I’ve only read about five so far), really had a very accurate take on how music can be used in all of these discussions.
By my count, the Journal of Mathematics and Music [subtitled: Mathematical and Computational Approaches to Music Theory, Analysis, Composition, and Performance] from its inception in 2007 contains about five [+/- a few] articles specifically devoted to some theoretical consideration of rhythm and or meter. The to-some [metric theory enthusiasts] well known Toussaint co-authors two of these (2009). In general, the journal contributors seem to hover around popular mathematic watering holes (or water coolers): scale theory, transformation theory, set theory, which places pitch prima inter pares among musical elements. The smallish seeming number is perhaps glibly suggestive: the journal is young, as is the faction it supports; and there are also roughly about three substantial articles per issue thrice annually.
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The Journal of New Music Research encourages interdisciplinary music research that is “innovative, scientifically rigorous and musically relevant.” Recent issues of this journal have emphasized computational approaches to music perception, performance, composition, and classification as well as theory and analysis. The journal often publishes purely speculative research without a specific repertory, and many of the analytically-focused articles investigate repertories outside of the Western art music canon. For instance, in the previous six issues, only one article has dealt with Western art music as such (two dealt with analysis of classical performers); all the while, there was an entire issue devoted to computational approaches to ethnomusicology. Articles that explore issues of meter and rhythm appear roughly twice a year (4 issues/year), and do not seem to be treated as secondary to investigations of harmony (as has been the case in many of the dominant theory journals, i.e. JMT).
Music and Medicine deals primarily with studies in music therapy, both from an active and passive stance: How is illness x (or symptoms x, y, & z) affected by either passive listening, interactive musical activities, or both? Most studies note a positive post-therapy result that is statistically significant.
One common finding is that listening to certain kinds of music (typically soft and mellow; one study used the sounds of a monochord) is effective in reducing heart rate, blood pressure, and pain.
Most of the other research focuses on the effects of music therapy on psychological issues (e.g., depression, anxiety, anger, stress) and neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., autism).
To familiarize yourself with the scope of publications available in the field of music cognition, I invite each of you to conduct a guided review of a different journal devoted at least in part to the study of music cognition topics. This review will take the form of posting on this page and a brief critical summary of current journal issue(s) that you will present in class at a later date. Here are the steps:
1. Visit the journals listing on Music Cognition U. (http://www.musiccognition.info/) and pick one journal you would to review. Create a posting of this journal’s website on this page (this will insure that nobody else picks the same). NOTE: If you are not sure how to create a new post, please refer to Pam Patterson’s handout (available on classes*v2).
2. Browse through the most current issue of the journal (most of these should be available on Yale’s electronic journals database, but you might also have to take a trip to the library). What are some general characteristics of the topics investigated? Take special note of music-related (rhythm and non-rhythm) articles.
3. Read through the abstracts of the rhythm-related articles in that issue; if there are less than 3, go back one issue until you find at least 3. For each of these, think about the following questions: What is the larger question, i.e., what aspect of (our experience of) musical rhythm is being explored? What is the specific hypothesis? How is it operationalized? What are the findings? How are these findings related back to the initial question? What are some of the limitations identified by the researcher(s)?
4. Browse through as much of the articles as necessary to answer the questions above and write a brief critical summary of your observations that uses specific examples from the sample articles to make your point. You don’t need to present all the information gathered, but only enough to prepare a cogent presentation to your colleagues (10 minutes + 5 minutes for questions).
5. Present your summary to the class (date TBA) and revise your posting on this page to include a few highlights.