I am currently doing a PhD at the Centre for Digital Music, Queen Mary University of London.
My research focuses mainly on musical instrument timbre analysis. In particular, on exploring performer-dependent effect on timbre attributes/acoustical properties of a musical instrument, which serves as an individual means of musical expression.
PhD topic: Cello Performer Modelling Using Timbre Features
Music performer influence on instrument sound characteristics is rarely considered in academic research, whether music acoustics, performance studies or Music Information Retrieval (MIR) applications. The so-called “player timbre”, the sound of a player, is a phenomenon well-known amongst musicians as a specific quality of sound which enables to differentiate one player from another when they perform an identical piece of music on the same instrument. This unique sound quality together with other expressive attributes such as timing, tempo, dynamics and articulation form the interpretation of a piece of music. They may vary from one performance to another and may depend on interpreted music, being determined by a composer’s style or a music genre. Individual expressive patterns generalised across the number of interpretations establish what we perceive as a performer style.
However, among the stylistic features, timbre predominates as the feature most dependent on a performer’s unique physical and perceptual abilities. Being an integral means of musical expression, timbre is embedded in the physical process of sound production and can be measured via acoustical properties of sound. As opposed to the music score-level parameters, it may act as an independent lower-level characteristic of a performer. If individual timbre features are able to characterise a performer, then timbre dissimilarities can be used for performer discrimination.
My research aims to find out which acoustical properties of sound depend specifically on the performer’s manner of playing and may constitute his timbre characteristics. I focus on bowed string instrument recordings using solo cello performances as a case study.