Characterizing Idiomatic Organization in Music: A Theory and Case Study of Musical Affordances
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Publisher:Empirical Musicology Review
Citation:Empirical Musicology Review, v4 n3 (July 2009), 103-122
A theory of idiomaticism is developed and illustrated using music for B- flat valve trumpet. Physical measures were collected from two trumpet performers and used to construct a computer model of the instrument/performer. Using this model, several works composed by both trumpet virtuosi and non-trumpet players were analyzed. A conceptual distinction is made between measures of performance difficulty (how hard it is to play a particular passage) and measures of performance idiomaticism (how well suited a passage is to a specific instrument). Methods for characterizing both difficulty and idiomaticism are described. In general, the results suggest that detailed modeling of the mechanics of performance can help to pinpoint aspects of musical organization that arise from performance idioms or affordances. Repercussions for ethnomusicology, historical musicology and music analysis are discussed.
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