Seeing Carlos Kleiber’s Vocalised Intentions Through the Pitch-Dynamics Motion Microscope

Gerald Moshammer

Abstract


The notion of musical motion is scrutinised by means of novel animation software, called Pitch-Dynamics Motion Microscope (PDMM), which is rooted in the so-called pYIN algorithm. Musicians’ exemplary vocalisations of musical intentions are identified as fruitful targets for the analysis of expressive continuity that emerges from discrete tonal sequences. In this study two of legendary conductor Carlos Kleiber’s vocalised passages, taken from the overtures to Der Freischütz, and Die Fledermaus, are analysed. While music visualisation software that enables pitch correspondence is usually bound to MIDI data, PDMM animations visualise actual frequency fluctuations of voices (or continuous pitch instruments). Thus, they open the door to a whole new view on intended musical motion, allowing for direct interplay between software modelling and genuine aesthetic questions about melodic shaping and its meaning. The study’s findings suggest that one cannot derive musical motion from temporal musical characteristics alone. Further, it denies the possibility of any straightforward algorithmic motion modelling based on discrete data in relation to isolated musical parameters, which implies that continuous motion streams and discrete melodic characteristics are separate phenomena. The human voice or continuous pitch instruments, however, can acoustically blur this boundary, something which particularly takes place in aesthetic instruction. Ultimately, from this brief case study, one can conclude that, while PDMM is able to establish an isomorphism between visual animation and musical movement, musical motion itself should not be considered a subsidiary notion that essentially is rooted in the concept of Euclidean space.

Keywords


musical motion, pYIN algorithm, music animation, vocalization, expressivity, Carlos Kleiber

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ISSN: 1836-8336