Patterns of expressive timing in performances of a Beethoven minuet by nineteen famous pianist.

Number 719
Year 1990
Drawer 13
Entry Date 11/15/1999
Authors Repp, B. H.
Publication Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 88(2), 622-641.
Abstract The timing patterns of 19 complete performances of the third movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata op.31, No.3, were measured from oscillograms and analyzed statistically. One purpose of the study was to search for a timing pattern resembling the “Beethoven pulse”. [Clynes, in Studies of Music Performance (Royal Academy of Music, Stockholm, 1983), pp. 76-181]. No constant pulse was found at the surface in any of the performances. Local patterns could be interpreted as evidence for an “underlying” pulse of the kind described by Clynes, but they could also derive from structural musical factors. On the whole, the artists’ timing patterns served to underline the structure of the piece; lengthening at phrase boundaries and at moments of melodic/harmonic tension were the most salient features. A principal components analysis suggested that these timing variations in the Minuet could be described in terms of two orthogonal factors, one capturing mainly phrase-final lengthening, and the other reflecting phrase-internal variation as well as tempo changes. A group of musically experienced listeners evaluated the performances on a number of rating scales. Their judgments showed some significant relations to the measured timing patterns. Principal components analysis of the rating scales yielded four dimensions interpreted as force, individually, depth, and speed. These preliminary results are encouraging for the development of more precise methods of music performance evaluation.

Search Publications