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Rafael Caro Repetto defends his PhD thesis

Rafael Caro Repetto defends his PhD thesis

Friday December 14, 2018 at 12:00h. Room 55.309 (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Poblenou Campus)



Title: The musical dimension of Chinese traditional theatre: An analysis from computer aided musicology

Supervisors: Dr. Manel Ollé i Dr. Xavier Serra

Jury:  President: Dr. Jonathan Stock (University College Cork) ; Secretary: Dra. Alicia Relinque Eleta (Universidad de Granada); Vocal: Dr. Agustín Martorell Domínguez (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)


Music, and especially singing, is one of the most important dimensions of xiqu, Chinese traditional theatre. The melody of xiqu arias is arranged by actors and actresses according to an orally transmitted principle known as shengqiang. Deepening the state of the art understanding of shengqiang as source for melodic creation is the main motivation of this thesis. To this aim, I focus on one of the nowadays most acclaimed xiqu genres, jingju (also known as Peking or Beijing opera), and more specifically, on its two more representative shengqiang, namely xipi and erhuang. The goal of this thesis then is to characterise their melodic identity. I propose a novel approach based on computer aided musicology. A corpus of machine readable music scores for 92 arias is created, covering 899 melodic lines. Grouped according to the four main elements of the jingju musical system, a comparative analysis is performed on 24 line categories in order to produce melodic schemata that represent each shengqiang’s melodic identity. To support and expand these results, a series of computational tools are developed to computationally extract statistical and quantitative information. The corpus, code, and generated data and figures are made openly available in the thesis’ companion web page. The produced melodic schemata are expected to contribute to future musicological and ethnomusicological research by offering a reference for these two shengqiang as sources for melodic creation in jingju. And as such, to contribute to the better understanding of jingju as a comprehensive art form for sinological studies.

Thesis document:

Video of defense: