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Title: Musical timing in the Adagio from Brahms' Violin concerto, op. 77 :an empirical study of rubato in recorded performances dating from 1927-1973
Authors: Cross, Edward William
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The inter-war period of the twentieth century represents something of a ‘golden age’ in solo violin playing. In addition to an unprecedented degree of technical prowess, a huge amount of variety existed between different performers, with the majority of well-known artists exhibiting their own unique sound and manner of delivery. One area of expression in which a divergence of approach is most evident is that of musical timing, whereby performers utilise what is generally termed ‘rubato’ in order to convey either the structure or emotional character of the music. This thesis utilises specialised computational methods of empirical analysis in order to investigate how rubato is used in thirty recordings of the Adagio from Brahms’ Violin Concerto, Op. 77, made by eminent performers who were active during this period. By comparing these recordings in detail, the principle aim is to ascertain just how much performers differ in their approaches to musical timing and, conversely, where there is some degree of common practice. Literary sources pertaining to rubato from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries are also scrutinised, in order to determine to what extent these written descriptions of rubato relate to use of the device in real-life performances. Key stylistic traits are identified and categorised, in order to inform performers who are looking to incorporate something of this twentieth-century style of rubato into their own playing. To date, the vast majority of empirical studies of performance have been conducted in the field of music psychology, with musicological approaches tending to favour closelistening methods in order to identify key stylistic traits. This study has attempted to use both empirical analysis and close-listening in tandem, which allows for the identification of common timing patterns across all thirty recordings, as well as the detailed examination of idiosyncrasies within their respective musical contexts. Sonic Visualiser software has been used to create a number of innovative video examples that incorporate tempo graphs with the original recorded sound, in order to see and hear what is happening in the music simultaneously.
Description: PhD Thesis (Multimedia items accompanying this thesis to be consulted at Robinson Library )
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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