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A psycho-philosophical investigation of the perception of emotional meaning in the performance of solo singing (19th century German lied repertoire).

Salgado, António G (2003) A psycho-philosophical investigation of the perception of emotional meaning in the performance of solo singing (19th century German lied repertoire). PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

The research in this thesis is a contribution to the study of expression in music performance. It is primarily concerned with the study of emotion expressiveness in the performance of singing. This thesis focuses on the Western Art Music Canon and with solo singing, in particular, (within the Nineteenth Century German Lied repertoire) involving verbal and/or dramatic action. Though always considered within its musical context, the emotionally expressive character of singing with the words and/or a dramatic context, usually with an explicit narrative, is taken together and considered as a complex yet integrated whole. Two different approaches are adopted: - Investigating the production of the facial movements and vocal sounds directly involved within the expression of emotion in singing. - Exploring how the performed elements are perceived, recognised and experienced by the audience. The movements and sounds involved in the expression of emotion in singing, and the relation between them, are interpreted, compared and analysed through an examination of the studies of authors whose research has been connected with the detection and analysis of the emotion in everyday life and in music performance. Comparing and combining visual and acoustical expressive elements of the performance of singing, the research in this thesis investigates the relative effects of one on the other and seeks to determine through empirical work which are crucial to the production and perception of emotional meaning in singing. These studies range from the conventional experiment in which the data are analysed statistically to individual subjective reports. The conventional experiments examine particular effects, whereas the subjective reports are used to address the more diverse properties of the performance. The experiments range from descriptive to quantitative measurements of the expressive parameters of emotion where 'ecological validity' has been preserved by using realistic performance data. Two professional singers were filmed, videotaped and recorded in performance. Each singer performed in five different emotional conditions (anger, fear, happiness, sadness, and neutral). The performances (videotaped or real-time) were shown to fifteen audience members, who perceived facial and vocal expressions of emotion for each performer. Audience accuracy of the performed emotions was measured by comparing each performer's intentional expression with the audience's recognition of emotional meaning. Results showed a high rate of decoding accuracy of the performer's intended emotional (facial and vocal) expressiveness. A variety of empirical techniques were used including tracking and 'point-light' technique (Experiment-I and II), semantic differentials - Verbal and Non Verbal- (Experiment II and III), interviews with the performers and audience (Experiment-III and IV), and 'ecologically valid' real time performance assessment (Experiment IV). Experiment-I, by using point-light technique and digitised computer tracking and measurement, demonstrated that it is possible to differentiate emotional facial expressiveness in singing by using a purely quantitative measurement technique (that is, without recurring to the subjectivity of the observer). Experiment II, by using point-light technique and semantic differentials (with descriptive emotional terms), demonstrated that kinematics alone provide enough information to distinguish between different expressive manners in the performer's facial behaviour when singing with different emotional meaning. Experiment III (videotaped performances with emotional content), by using semantic differentials and interviews with the performers, showed a high degree of consistency in the expressive elements (acoustical and visual) across repeated performances within the different emotional conditions. Experiment IV (real time performance), by also using semantic differentials and interviews with the performers and audience, showed a high degree of consistency in the expressive elements (acoustical and visual) across repeated performances within the different emotional conditions. It also revealed that musical structure and the performer's intention to enhance emotional meaning are important co-determinants of the communication process. Chapter 1 presents the theoretical background on music/performance and emotion. Chapter 2 presents the theoretical-practical background on music/performance and emotion. Chapter 3 presents the empirical background on music/performance and emotion. A final aim of the studies has been to elaborate an expressive analytical tool that provides singers, singing teachers and students of singing with a reliable audience feedback about their capacities to communicate emotional meaning whilst singing. Since the author is both a performer and teacher it was essential for the investigation to integrate theory and practice. Therefore, a significant focus was also on the development of a recital, which aimed to stimulate debate for the theoretical and empirical results of this thesis. In fact, though performers have shown a partial knowledge of the expressive devices they used, and though all the experiments (videotaped or real-time) showed a high rate of the audience's decoding accuracy of the performance's intended emotional expressions, Experiment IV revealed that the audience's recognition of the performed emotional meaning would increase significantly if the performer, by having access to the audience's cognitive feedback, was able to check and improve the accuracy and consistency of the expressive cues used in the performance. All this experimental research is explored in Chapter 4. Chapter 5, the final chapter, presents a summary of all the empirical results. The thesis concludes with a brief discussion of further possibilities for research in the area and with the practical and theoretical implications to be drawn from this investigation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Literature
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Music (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.275087
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2019 09:00
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2019 09:00
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/14758

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