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Disputation: Melodic Contour (Tejaswinee Kelkar)

Tejaswinee Kelkar will defend her dissertation "Computational Analysis of Melodic Contour and Body Movement".

Portrait of Tejaswinee Kelkar, red brick wall at the Faculty of HumanitiesAre pitches always going up and down? Even when they are a part of melodies? Research in this dissertation shows that they aren’t. Pitch height is closely related to melodic context instead.  The association between musical melodies and the visual representation of a contour---an arch, a rainbow, a zigzag line, a circle, and so on---appears to be united in our minds, and represents an essential quality of melodic identity.

Think of the evocative nature of optimistic arch-like melodies of theme songs of Disney princesses, the use of large arch-like leaps of a sixth or above in the 'princess' songs, ranging from Somewhere Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz to Mulan's Reflection. Researchers have also remarked on the linear contours in Alban Berg's compositions, and the descending contours of many lament songforms. This shows us that melodic contours have signification for us beyond just being musical artifacts.

In the experiments for this thesis, Tejaswinee asks 52 people (not just musicians), to freely draw short melodies that they hear twice in the air with their hands. Infrared motion capture - the kind that is used to animate CGI figures - was used to record the participants' body movement, and the analysis is focused primarily on the movement of their hands. The sound analysis is based on signal processing algorithms for pitch detection and methods for contour representation. Each of the four articles computationally explores a dimension of melodic contour: verticality, motion metaphors, body use, and multi-feature correlational analysis.

This thesis tries to provide a new view of melodies across musical cultures, and their visual, and moving side.



Time Program Place
09:15 - 10:00 Trial Lecture: "Spatial and bodily metaphors as means for musical sense-making" Forsamlingssalen, Harald Schjelderups hus

10:15 - 13:30 (aproximately)

Disputation Forsamlingssalen, Harald Schjelderups hus
13:45 - 14:30 Reception RITMO (1st floor), Harald Schjelderups hus
Published Nov. 20, 2019 2:54 PM - Last modified Mar. 26, 2020 5:00 PM