Synchrony and Musicality

Background

For the purposes of this study, Synchrony is defined specifically as the intentionally coordinated initiation and release of notes. Intentional coordination is an important part of ensemble music making, and the Synchrony and Musicality Project examines different tools for achieving it, whether some tools produce better results, and whether the outcomes tied to certain tools are more collectively considered more musical or organic.

Process

Three different performances of the Dvorak Bagatelles, Op. 47 are represented here, played by the same undergraduate quartet. The same six particular passages of the work, each offering different synchronization challenges, are excerpted from each of the three performances for a total of 18 audio clips. Video footage has been deliberately omitted. The clips will be presented in a random order. At the conclusion of the study you should have heard each passage a total of three times.

Specifics

The longest clip is 78 seconds. The shortest is 7 seconds. The average duration of each of the 18 clips is 38 seconds. Each clip will be followed by three questions, to be answered on a scale of 1 through 5. This study shouldn’t take more than a maximum of 30 minutes to complete.

Instructions

Firstly, please rate the degree of synchronization in each passage – how well do musicians coordinate the initiation and release of notes? Secondly, please turn your ear to more musical qualities: how stylistically appropriate do you consider the initiatied articulations and the resultant playing? How is the pacing and the resultant musicality of the excerpt as a whole? Did it flow naturally/organically or did it feel artificial or contrived? Finally, how “cohesive” did the excerpt as a whole feel? Note: “cohesion” is here defined as the capacity of the group to successfuly combine and coordinate synchrony, stylistic and musical elements.

Additional notes

The audio clips are performed by an undergraduate quartet, so there are random mistakes in both notes and intonation. There are also fluctuations in tempo, as might be expected in a live performance. Try to ignore these as much as possible. These details may be relevant on some level, but the audio is taken from three different concerts at three different times, so there are too many external variables to control specifically for performance accuracy.

At the end of the survey you’ll find more information on the performances and what specific tools the quartet used at different times.

Thank you so much for your help.

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