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CANSSI Data Science ARES: Daniel J. McDonald

Monday, October 24, 2022 - 12:30 to 13:30
Daniel McDonald, Associate Professor, UBC Department of Statistics
Statistics Seminar
Zoom (to register, see CANSSI website) or Maple Room, University of Toronto

Registration & talk details

This talk is one of Data Science Applied Research and Education Seminar (ARES) series. Learn more and register for this talk here.

Talk Title: Markov-Switching State Space Models for Uncovering Musical Interpretation

Abstract: For concertgoers, musical interpretation is the most important factor in determining whether or not we enjoy a classical performance. Every performance includes mistakes—intonation issues, a lost note, an unpleasant sound—but these are all easily forgotten (or unnoticed) when a performer engages her audience, imbuing a piece with novel emotional content beyond the vague instructions inscribed on the printed page. In this research, we use data from the CHARM Mazurka Project—forty-six professional recordings of Chopin’s Mazurka Op. 68 No. 3 by consummate artists—with the goal of elucidating musically interpretable performance decisions. We focus specifically on each performer’s use of musical tempo by examining the inter-onset intervals of the note attacks in the recording. To explain these tempo decisions, we develop a switching state space model and estimate it by maximum likelihood combined with prior information gained from music theory and performance practice. We use the estimated parameters to quantitatively describe individual performance decisions and compare recordings. These comparisons suggest methods for informing music instruction, discovering listening preferences, and analyzing performances.