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Research seminar by Rafael Caro Repetto on technologies for aiding understanding of music cultures

Research seminar by Rafael Caro Repetto on technologies for aiding understanding of music cultures

Monday February 17th at 15.30h in room 55.309 (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)



Technology for aiding understanding of music cultures: The Musical Bridges project by Rafael Caro Repetto, Institute of Ethnomusicology, Kunstuniversität Graz, Austria.



We live in an increasingly connected world. People, objects, customs, behaviors, ideas, and also sounds, travel with ever growing speed and scope. As a result, multiculturality is an unavoidable condition of contemporary societies. However, the cohabitation in a particular local community of elements from external origins do not necessarily imply their mutual understanding, and even acceptance. In this project we aim at using technology for building Musical Bridges between cultures. A musical tradition is deeply rooted in the thought systems, religious ideas, aesthetic principles, social structures and economic trends of the communities that developed it. Therefore, unraveling the elements of a musical system can aid the understanding of its originating culture. Furthermore, being able to experience them in musical performance allows the embodiment of their underlying cultural phenomena. Existing materials for approaching alien musical cultures are mostly addressed to students or scholars, and in their vast majority consist in written explanations illustrated with accompanying audio or video recordings. Thus, a gap remains between aural perception and intellectual comprehension, generally only addressed via music scores. In Musical Bridges we design interactive, online tools which offer as intuitive as possible visualizations of selected musical aspects from audio recordings with the aim of guiding the user’s listening attention, and her/his bodily engagement with the listening experience. To this aim, we draw on the audio recordings corpora gathered in the previous CompMusic project for the computational study of North Indian and South Indian classical music, Turkish makam music, Chinese jingju music and Moroccan Andalusian music. The visualizations offered by the Musical Bridges tools, tailored to the specific characteristics of each of these music traditions, are based on automatically extracted features using audio signal processing methods, as well as manual annotations by experts. Adopting an approach that could be framed as applied computational musicology, the Musical Bridges project also organizes public educational activities to put these tools, and the project’s philosophy, in action, and bring these music traditions, and their corresponding cultures, closer to the Barcelona audience. In this presentation, I report about, and demonstrate, the current state of the research carried out in the Musical Bridges project.



Rafael Caro Repetto is an ethnomusicologist specialized in Chinese traditional music. After several years of research in Beijing and Shanghai, he obtained a master’s degree in ethnomusicology at Soas (University of London). In 2013 he joined the CompMusic project at the Music Technology Group from Universitat Pompeu Fabra, focusing on jingju music research. In 2018 he received his Ph.D. degree with a thesis on computer aided analysis of the jingju’s melodic system. Currently, Rafael Caro is a senior scientist at the Institute of Ethnomusicology from Kunstuniversität Graz (Austria), and member of the Musical Bridges project, extending his research scope to Indian classical music and Moroccan Andalusian music.


video of the seminar: