This paper describes how insights into performance strategies can arise from observations derived from measurements as well as visual inspection of graphs of expressive parameters. The widespread availability of tools for quantifying expressive parameters have made it possible to incorporate engineering approaches to the study of performance for both experts and novices. Scientific graphs map the evolution of these parameters over time, allowing investigations that reveal correspondence or a lack thereof between expressive gestures and musical structures. Three examples illustrate discoveries of principles of performance using a scientific approach. The first example compares three performances of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, commonly known as the Moonlight Sonata, highlighting Schnabel’s strategies for projecting long lines. The latter two examples are projects by engineering students with different degrees of musical training comparing guitar vs. piano performances of Granados’ Danza Española No. 5 and tracing the evolution of vibrato over a century in a small sample of notes from Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 1, respectively. These methodologies have the potential for transforming how musicians study and teach performance.
"About Time: Stratedgies of Performance Revealed in Graphs,"
Visions of Research in Music Education: Vol. 20, Article 11.
Available at: https://opencommons.uconn.edu/vrme/vol20/iss1/11