Back Research seminar by the Institute for Ethnomusicology of Kunstuniversität Graz on Computational Methods in Ethnomusicology

Research seminar by the Institute for Ethnomusicology of Kunstuniversität Graz on Computational Methods in Ethnomusicology

Thursday, October 19th at 12:30h in room 52.019 (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)



Title: Computational Methods in Ethnomusicology: Case Studies from Kunstuniversität Graz (Austria)

Abstract: Ethnomusicologists have always been prone to the use of technology for their research, from the recording equipment during fieldwork to the use of mechanical and more recently computational tools for music analysis. However, the wide spectrum of research objects and questions which ethnomusicological research engage with, the lack of reliable tools for culture-aware, high-level analyses, and the scarcity of large-enough, well curated datasets still present many challenges for the consolidation of computationally aided methodologies within the discipline of ethnomusicology at large. In the case of the Institute for Ethnomusicology at Kunstuniversität Graz (KUG), Austria, many of their members have found value in the use of computational methods for their research. In this seminar, we will present four ethnomusicological research projects carried out at our Institute which rely on these methods. The FWF funded project Tango-Danceability of Music in European Perspective, led by Kendra Stepputat, made use of motion capture technologies for dance movement analysis and the study of tango music danceability. In his PhD research on the Balinese improvisatory solo drumming tradition kendang tunggal, Kurt Schatz has developed a program to record, transcribe, analyze, generate and synthesize drum patterns in order to understand the inherent grammar of this tradition. Babak Nikzat and Rafael Caro Repetto are in the process of building the KUG Dastgāhi Corpus, containing solo recordings of vocal and instrumental performances of Iranian dastgāhi music, with the aim of contributing with quantitative information to the musicological study of the modal entities of this tradition. Finally, Sarah Weiss, who has been applying computational methods on symbolic data for her long-term research on Javanese pathet, will present her future project on the study of perceptions of similarity in different linear modal traditions, in which these methods will have a central role. In each of these case studies we will focus on the research questions and goals that motivated the use of computational tools, and we will reflect on the benefits and expectations of these methods, but also on the difficulties and limitations in their implementation.

Researchers from the Institute for Ethnomusicology of Kunstuniversität Graz (KUG)

Dr. Babak Nikzat is Senior Scientist at the Institute for Ethnomusicology. His main areas of research are Iranian traditional and popular music, hybridization processes and music production. He currently works in a FWF-funded project which researches the language and music of Arabic minorities in South Iran, and is creating the KUG Dastgāhi Corpus for the computational analysis of Iranian dastgāhi music.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kendra Stepputat is Head of the Institute for Ethnomusicology. Her two main areas of research are Balinese music and dance as well as tango argentino as translocal practice. She is the author of the monographs The Kecak and Cultural Tourism on Bali (2021) and Tango Dance and Music: A Choreomusical Exploration of Tango Argentino (in press), besides numerous papers in international journals and conferences. As a leading scholar in choreomusicology, she co-edited with Elina Seye two special volumes on this topic in the journal The World of Music [New Series] (2020).

Kurt Schatz, BA, MA is a PhD candidate researching improvisation patterns in the Balinese solo drumming tradition of kendang tunggal. In his research, Schatz combines ethnographic methods with computational tools for the analysis and synthesis of drumming patterns.

Dr. Rafael Caro Repetto is Senior Scientist at the Institute of Ethnomusicology. His main area of research is Chinese traditional music, with a special focus on theater traditions. He has also carried out research on North Indian classical music and Arab-Andalusian music from Morocco. In his research he draws on computational tools for music analysis and visualization for educational purposes. He currently collaborates with Babak Nikzat in the creation of the KUG Dastgāhi Corpus.

University Professor Dr. phil. Sarah Weiss currently is the deputy head of the Institute for Ethnomusicology, after having taught ethnomusicology in Yale University, Harvard University, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the University of Sydney. One of the international leading scholars on Javanese gamelan music, and director of the Nyai Rara Saraswati gamelan ensemble at KUG, Weiss authored the monograph Listening to an Earlier Java: Aesthetics, Gender and the Music of Wayang in Central Java (2007). She also conducts research on Southeast Asian cultures and performance, gender studies, postcoloniality, and hybridity studies, whose results have been published in numerous international journal and conferences, as well as in the monograph Ritual Soundings: Women Performers and World Religions (2019), which was awarded with the Honourable Mention in the 2021 ICTM Best Book Prize.



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