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OFAI-TR-2003-25 ( 200kB PDF file)

Predicting the Subjective Similarity Between Expressive Performances of Music from Objective Measurements of Tempo and Dynamics

Renee Timmers

Measurements of expression in music performances have highlighted the subtle variations in tempo, timing and dynamics that musicians apply when performing music. Comparisons between the variations have given a first insight into the diversity of interpretations of music. Correlation is an often-used method for such comparisons. This study investigated the perceptual validity of such measurements and, more specifically, of such objective comparisons. 20 participants rated the similarity between 5 performances of a fragment from a Chopin Prelude and between 6 performances of two fragments from a Mozart Sonata. Variations in tempo and dynamics were measured from the audio recordings of the performances. These measurements were input to different models that predicted the perceived similarity between performances. Overall, the models could predict a fair amount of the similarity ratings. Tempo was especially important for the prediction, more important than loudness, followed by the interaction between tempo and loudness. Models based on absolute measures were stronger than models based on normalized measures. These results were independent of the musical background of the participants. The implications for future research include a reconsideration of correlation for the comparison of performances and a reevaluation of absolute local measures. In addition, the study suggests directions for the further investigation of the perception of music performance.

Citation: Timmers R.: Predicting the Subjective Similarity Between Expressive Performances of Music from Objective Measurements of Tempo and Dynamics. Technical Report, Österreichisches Forschungsinstitut für Artificial Intelligence, Wien, TR-2003-25, 2003