An accent-based approach to automatic rendering of piano performance: Preliminary auditory evaluation
Erica Bisesi; Richard Parncutt

Centre for Systematic Musicology, University of Graz, Austria

We are exploring the complex relationship between accents and expression in piano performance. Accents are local events that attract a listener’s attention and are either evident from the score (immanent) or added by the performer (performed). Immanent accents are associated with (temporal, serial) grouping (phrasing), metre (downbeats), melody (peaks, leaps) and harmony (or dissonance). In piano music, performed accents involve changes in timing, dynamics, articulation, and pedalling; they vary in amplitude, form (amplitude as a function of time), and duration (the period of time during which the timing or dynamics are affected). We are analyzing a selection of Chopin Preludes using a novel method that combines aspects of the generative approach of Lerdahl and Jackendoff (1983), the modeling approach of Sundberg (1988) and the accent-based approach of Parncutt (2003). In the first stage, pianists and music theorists mark grouping, melodic and harmonic accents on the score, estimate the importance (salience) of each, and discuss their interrelationships. In the second stage, we mathematically model timing and dynamics in the vicinity of selected accents using an extended version of Director Musices ? a software package for automatic rendering of expressive performance. This work was supported by the Lise Meitner Project M 1186- N23 (“Measuring and modelling expression in piano performance”), sponsored by the Austrian Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF).