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Presentation by Dr. Erica Bisesi

How does music expression depend on structure?

Abstract: In what way does music expression depend on musical structure? The question may be clarified by examining how leading performers segment musical phrases, as well as how they agree on selection and emphasis of local events (accents). Accents are local events that attract a listener’s attention and may be immanent (grouping, metrical, melodic, harmonic) or performed (variations in timing, dynamics, and articulation). First, I will discuss a new computational model of accent salience (Bisesi & Parncutt, 2011; Bisesi, Friberg & Parncutt, 2014; Bisesi & Vicario, 2015). This model is implemented in an extended version of Director Musices (DM), a software package for automatic rendering of expressive performance developed at KTH, Stockholm (Friberg, Bresin & Sundberg, 2006). We have extended DM in a new direction, which allows us to relate expressive features of a performance not only to global or intermediate structural properties (phrasing), but also accounting for local events (accents) (Friberg & Bisesi, 2014). Second, our model is being investigated in two different ways: perceptually – by comparing predicted versus perceived accent saliences in eminent performances for a selection of Chopin Preludes (Bisesi, MacRitchie & Parncutt, 2012), and physically – by measuring variations in timing and dynamics as performed by eminent musicians (Bisesi & Cabras, 2014).

Bio: Erica E. Bisesi was born in Gorizia (Italy). She completed a Ph.D. in Mathematics and Physics at Udine University in 2007. She has taught acoustics and psychoacoustics at the Udine Conservatory from 2004 to 2006. Her career as a systematic musicologist began in 2007, first at the Department of Speech, Music and Hearing at KTH, Stockholm, and then in several projects on the psychology of music, psychoacoustics, expressive music performance, music theory and analysis and music information retrieval at the Universities of Lugano (CSI), Bologna (GATM), Como (Conservatory), Milan, Padua, Udine, Graz (KUG), Western Sydney and Montreal. In October 2009, Erica was awarded a Lise Meitner postdoctoral fellowship for a two-year project entitled “Measuring and modeling expression in piano performance” by FWF Austria. In December 2011, FWF funded her three-year Stand-Alone project “Expression, emotion and imagery in music performance”. She presented the results of her research in conferences, lectures and lecture-recitals at leading institutes in Austria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Serbia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and the United States. Her career as a pianist began at the age of five, and she completed a M.A. Degree in Piano Performance at Trieste Conservatory in 1996. Over the following ten years, she studied with the conductor Francesco Mander, the pianists Bruno Canino in Milan, Aquiles Delle Vigne in Salzburg, Florence and Rome, Vladimir Krpan in Zagreb, Anna Kravtchenko in Rovereto, and Andreas Woyke in Graz. She now performs as a soloist and in chamber music ensembles in Austria, Italy and abroad. Erica is currently a senior postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Systematic Musicology at the University of Graz, where she is lecturer on psychoacoustics and music cognition. Her research lies mainly in the area of music theory and analysis, music performance, expression and emotion. In her research, she primarily investigates the perception and performance of her concert repertoire.


May 29 2015


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm




BRAMS - Suite 0120
1430 boul Mont Royal


Eva Best
(514) 343-6111 ext. 3167

BRAMS (International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research) is a unique centre dedicated to research excellence in the study of music and auditory cognition with a focus on neuroscience. The research centre is located in Montreal and jointly affiliated with the University of Montreal and McGill University.


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