Back again!

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted last! I’ve spent the past few weeks focusing primarily on the paper component of my independent study, and I let the blog aspect slide a little.  I’ve posted a basic outline of what my paper was about/what it showed below, so check it out!

I’m still working out in what form I want this blog to continue, now that I’ve finished the semester. I’m hoping to continue my work on timbre, but with a greater focus on my vocal repertoire. Anyway, I thought I’d put a short post up since it’s been so long! Thanks for reading!

My paper focused on the timbral components of fast and slow movements in Haydn symphonies. The terms “fast” and “slow” refer solely to the descriptive tempo markings (such as adagio, andante, allegro), and not the actual performance tempo. I showed that these tempo markings were used more as guideline for Haydn’s orchestrational purposes (with regards to timbral elements), and were not indicative of metrical tempo (in beats per minute).

The aspects of timbre I looked at specifically were spectral centroid (the average of all frequencies in a sound) and attack noise (the non-tonal aspect of a sound’s beginning). I used symphonic recordings from one box set to ensure consistency of conductor (Christopher Hogwood), ensemble (Academy of Ancient music), and recording equipment. In the paper, I examined studies of Haydn’s works to first prove his sensitivity to timbre, and then I detailed the results of my work on his symphonies. I found that descriptive tempo markings were not generally indicative of metrical tempo. Instead, factors such as “brightness” (regarding spectral centroid), and amount of attack noise present in a movement contributed to the perception of tempo. For example, “fast” movements were brighter and had more attack noise. As always, the studies left me with more questions than answers! It seems like this is a fruitful area for research and I’m eager to keep my eye out for more developments.


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