Musicology Seminar Detmold/Paderborn, DFG, since 2016.
This project aims at writing a history of singing that incorporates the body and media, particularly for the first decades of the twentieth century. It is assumed that the new medium of recording provoked a rethinking of the body, that is related to changes in singing practice against the backdrop of a mechanized concept of the body. That singing has been increasingly understood as an embodied technique is not only clear from theories of singing, but also from changes in singing, for instance with respect to stance, breathing, vibrato, and the use of different registers.
This approach is reflected in the four intertwined project sections:
The project aims at researching for new methods needed and usable for the description of popular music. Therefore, existing approaches of music analysis, performance analysis and signal processing are to be combined and extended.
The assumption behind this undertaking is that for a description of musical objects in the course of a music analysis, a musical score is a rather inappropriate basis. Central musical objects emerge only through the process of music playing itself and thus they remain invisible in the score.
In the present context, the meaning of playing musical objects – contrary to the performance of a musical idea in the sense of an interpretation of a script or an improvisation – is the result of an artistical and technical (re-)production, a musical as well as technical collective performance, the single production steps – and therefore authorships – of which cannot be reconstructed a posteriory. However, it is possible to describe musical objects precisely. When describing musical objects in detail, then they are usable for further analyses.
The Liszt School of Music, Weimar, DFG, 2011–2014.
How does one appropriately describe and interpret pop voices and singing styles? How do vocal expressions relate to the complex of lyrics and musical composition, of performances and images of singers, of processes of identity construction and cultural stereotypes?
Guided by these questions and using examples of singers from Vaudeville, American Popular Song and Musical, Gospel Music, Blues und Rhythm & Blues, Jazz, Country Music und Folk Music as well as Rock'n'Roll and early Soul, the research project Voice and Singing in Popular Music in the US (1900-1960) analyzes and illustrates how vocal expressions have developed and influenced each other across genre divides, and how they have influenced and reflected images, cultural stereotypes and collective identities.
The research project focuses on these central concerns:
Additionally, the software Vocalmetrics has been developed. It allows its users to visualize similarities and differences between means of vocal expression in over 200 representative sound examples from the history of US-American popular music; Vocalmetrics will be made available as freeware and can be used for other musical genres and research questions.
»Björk«, »Mahalia Jackson«, »Robert Johnson«, »Al Jolson«, »Ma Rainey«, »Ethel Waters«,
In: Lexikon der Gesangsstimme (= Instrumenten-Lexika 5). ed. by A.-C. Mecke, M. Pfleiderer, B. Richter und T. Seedorf (2016).
with Axel Berndt: »Investigating Music Performance and Perception via Interaction.« In: Works in Audio and Music Technology, 2012–2015. ed. by A. Berndt (in preparation).
with Axel Berndt, Rainer Groh, Martin Pfleiderer and Felix Schönfeld: »Vocalmetrics. An interactive Software for Visualization and Classification of Music.« In: Proceedings of the 9th Audio Mostly: A Conference on Interaction With Sound. Aalborg 2014. | [bib]
with Felix Schönfeld: »Vocalmetrics: Exploring Multiple Dimensions of Singing in Early Popular Music Recordings.« In: Proceedings of the Sempre MET 2014. Researching Music, Education, Technology: Critical Insights. Hg. v. E. Himonides und A. King. London 2014: 145–147. | [bib]
»Vokale Ausdrucksmuster im Kontext von Star-Images und kulturellen Stereotypen. Eine exemplarische Analyse der Vokalstile von Bert Williams und Bing Crosby.« In: SAMPLES. Online-Journal der Gesellschaft für Popularmusikforschung e.V. (12). 2014. | [bib]
with Axel Berndt: »Studying Interdependencies in Music Performance: An Interactive Tool.« In: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME). Oslo 2011: 48–51. | [bib]
with Axel Berndt: »Expressive Articulation for Synthetic Music Performances.« In: Proceedings of New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME2010). Sydney 2010: 277–282. | [bib] [Sound example: tempo and articulation (Fantasy Nr. 10 für Flöte Solo von G. P. Telemann)]
»From Mozart to MIDI: A Rule System for Expressive Articulation.« In: Proceedings of New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME2010). Sydney 2010: 72–75. | [bib] [Sound Example: Allegro (Concert for Flute in D Major by G. P. Telemann)]