Current projects (2023-2024)

  • Ph.D. defence at the Music Faculty of the University of Montreal
  • Article forthcoming at the journal CIRCUIT, Discussions between father and son: an intimate portrait of the composer and multimedia artist Miodrag Lazarov Pashu
  • Preparation of an article on a case study carried out within the frame of my doctorate
  • Preparation for lecture-recitals, concerts, and conférences for the 2023-2024 season

Ph.D. thesis abstract

In the context of the Western musical tradition, the research presented in this thesis centres on the analysis of the interpretation of works from the Baroque period (1600–1750) at the piano. The interpretation was studied in relation to two compositions for solo keyboard: an excerpt from the last movement of the Partita in C minor BWV 826 by J.S. Bach (1685–1750) and the Passepied GWV 325 by C. Graupner (1683–1760). These works were performed and recorded in three contrasting styles (romantic, modern, and rhetorical) in the context of two experimental studies. The auto-ethnographic study aimed to develop a protocol for qualitative and quantitative analysis of the performance of a work by Bach according to the principles of the three interpretation styles. The case study tested the application of a practical method for the development of an informed and exploratory artistic approach in performance. A mixed approach of qualitative and quantitative analyzes was used in both studies to reveal relationships between different types of performance parameters (including tempo variations, articulation, dynamics, pedalling, or expression) and stylistic descriptions (including participants’ commentaries).

Based on a study of baroque music performance in the 20th century, a pianist recorded an excerpt of Bach’s Partita in C minor (BWV 826) according to three contrasting styles (Romantic, Modern and Rhetorical). The pianist’s performance was captured in MIDI data format using a Yamaha Disklavier DC7X piano. A verbal description of each style has been provided by the pianist through a self-explicitation exercise. Each audio recording was then presented to an expert auditor, specialist in piano recordings, which provided an external perspective on the interpretation. The analyzes of the auto-ethnographic study showed consistency between the stylistic descriptions, the self-assessment of the pianist/participant, the qualitative evaluations by an expert listener and the quantitative data pertaining to musical parameters. These results suggest that an understanding of the principles of interpretation may help shape an interpretation whose parametric attributes are consistent with the original stylistic postulates.

This research protocol was further developed in a case study carried out with a pianist/doctoral student at the Faculty of Music of the University of Montreal. Based on written instructions sent to the participant, the study unfolded in five stages: a baseline or control performance, a score analysis by immanent accents, a stylistic analysis, a performance according to three styles, and an ideal interpretation. The analyzes confirmed the consistency between the stylistic rules, the subject’s verbal output, and the quantitative parameters extracted from her performance. The ratios between musical and temporal parameters were established using a new technique of “perceptual quantification.” Qualitative analysis revealed a sense of freedom and control experienced by the participant as she developed her interpretation under predetermined, rule-based conditions.

Keywords: music performance, style, research creation, performance studies, qualitative analysis, quantitative analysis, instrumental pedagogy, piano, creative processes, J.S. Bach.