Music and Sound Research

Music Performance and Expertise

With a wealth of professional musicians in training at the Eastman School, our research group is a natural venue for testing cognitive aspects of music performance, including aspects of sight-reading, rehearsing, interpretation, and memorization. MIDI instruments can record key velocities, pitch and timing data, and other aspects of performance for analysis. In one study completed thus far, one of our students measured the effect of “key distance” (of distant chords and modulations) on musicians’ interpretive decisions in performance. His work considered theories of harmonic distance that measured distance only on a chord-to-chord metric, and others that considered time windows of varying widths. He found a significant interpretive effects for performance distant chords (and keys) in terms of their delay, loudness, and asynchrony between voices. He discusses theories of tonality in light of these results.