Programme for Spring 2015 Music Research Seminar Series

2015 Spring MRSS Poster

22 January

Ed Jones

(University of Aberdeen)

Arctic Elegy : A elegy for the Franklin Expedition of 1845-48, for the officers and men who perished without one survivor in arctic Canada, in the search for the north west passage

Abstract (TBA)

05 February

Louise Sykes

(Swiss National Center of Competence in Research

The notion of affetto misto in 16th and 17th century vocal music

The Italian expression affetto misto, found in the technical vocabulary of 16th century theory of affects, designates a type of composition devoted to the description of the psychological state of a subject pulled between two opposing emotions. At the origin of this is a thesis that they are as many affects as there are elements of musical writing (e.g. intervals, modes, etc.) and that they can be combined in polyphony in a krasis of opposites.

There are several ways in which a mixed affect occurs: breaking the rules of counterpoint, harmony, modes and paradoxical associations of musical figures and symbols. The aim is to show through several examples from 16th and 17th century vocal repertoire that this genre of mixed emotions can be found and demonstrated to exist in musical practice.

19 February

Chris Gray

(University of Aberdeen)

The Conductor's Pidgin: Language and Conducting; exposing an equivalence
This research seminar will look at how my portfolio career led to a University career and to academic research. It will also outline the basis of my work in creating a formalized language for conductors and how I hope this will impact on the training of future generations.

05 March

Gemma McGregor

(University of Aberdeen)

Music and Conflict

Music has the potential for various functions with regard to conflict: it could be used to depict, explore, incite, unify, offer comfort or build bridges. Music has been created by composers when living through conflict and by those who are using their art to transform internal conflict. This talk will look at compositions that have various relationships with conflict including works by Olivier Messiaen, Sofia Gubaidalina, Peter Maxwell Davies, James Macmillan and Gemma McGregor.

19 March

Dr Aspasia Paltoglou

(Oxford Brookes University)

Is There Feature-Specific Enhancement in the Auditory Cortex When Attending to Sounds?

Selective attention is a crucial function that encompasses all perceptual modalities and which enables us to focus on the behaviourally relevant information and ignore the rest.  The main goal of the two fMRI studies presented here was to test a well-established hypothesis about the mechanisms of visual selective attention in the auditory domain, the hypothesis of feature-specific attentional enhancement.  This hypothesis states that when attending to an object or a feature, there should be an enhancement of the response in the sensory region that is sensitive to that object or feature. In the first fMRI study we investigated feature-specific attentional modulation mainly within the tonotopic fields around the primary auditory cortex, when participants were attending to sound frequency.  A second fMRI experiment investigated feature-specific attentional enhancement mainly around the non-primary auditory cortex, when attending to frequency modulation or motion of the same auditory object. The results showed partial support for feature-specific enhancement when attending to frequency and frequency modulation, but not for motion.  In conjunction with other relevant studies, there is some support for feature-specific enhancement in the auditory cortex, although this effect appears to be sensitive to factors such as the choice of experimental set up and stimuli.

02 April

Dr Michael Edwards

(University of Edinburgh)

slippery chicken - an open-source Common Lisp environment for declarative or generative algorithmic composition

"slippery chicken" is an open-source Common Lisp environment for declarative or generative algorithmic composition building on CLM, CMN, CM, and Lilypond for score, sound file, and/or MIDI file outputs and the integration of these into closely aligned hybrid acoustic-electronic pieces of music.

"slippery chicken" enables a top-down approach to music composition. The software was originally tailor-made to encapsulate the author's personal composition techniques, however many general-purpose algorithmic composition tools have been programmed that should be useful to a range of composers. The main goal of the project is to facilitate a melding of electronic and instrumental sound worlds, not just at the sonic but also at the structural level. Pure instrumental or electronic composition is of course possible too. Techniques for the innovative combination of rhythm and pitch data--arguably one of the most difficult aspects of making convincing musical algorithms--are offered. "slippery chicken" has no graphical user interface and there are no plans to make one. Whilst it is clear that this will be off-putting to some, there are many benefits to interacting with such a system through the programming language it was created in, not least of which is the infinite-extensibility that such an approach infers.

People interested in this might want to look at the associated website in advance: