Data science for the study of Calypso-rhythm through history (DaCaRyH)

The DaCaRyH project kick-off meeting occurred on Feb 23, 2016, in Paris at the now-former location of Lutherie, Acoustique, Musique (LAM), Paris 6. This 18-month international project is funded by two organisations: AHRC Care for the Future on the UK side; and LABEX Les passés dans le présent (histoire, patrimoine et mémoire) on the French side. The DaCaRyH team is multidisciplinary, involving ethnomusicology, music composition, signal processing, data science, and music informatics. Those involved in the project are:

Team UK
Bob L. Sturm, PI (C4DM, QMUL)
Elio Quinton (C4DM, QMUL)
Oded Ben-Tal (Kingston University)

Team FRANCE
Aurelie Helmlinger, PI (CREM-LESC, CNRS, Nanterre)
Florabelle Spielmann (CREM-LESC, CNRS, Nanterre)
Joséphine Simonnot (CREM-LESC, CNRS, Nanterre)
Guillaume Pellerin (Parisson)
Thomas Fillon (Parisson)

Our three principal research objectives are:
1. Ethnomusicological: Enrich the domain of ethnomusicology by integrating data science and music information retrieval (MIR) methods into ethnomusicological archives and research practices;
2. Computational: Enrich MIR by integrating real ethnomusicological use cases and requirements into the design and evaluation of intelligent listening systems;
3. Creative: Study the concept of musical style through a comparative diachronic analysis of a music corpus, and then the creative transformation of features extracted from the same corpus into an invented, imaginary style.

We aim to achieve these specifically in the study of rhythm in calypso music traditions. What is Calypso? The following song by Mighty Duke can help explain it:

Calypso is an interesting case of traditional music, as it draws on several folk traditions and readily blends new ideas into the music scene in Trinidad and Tobago. The steelpan is one of the most recent acoustic musical instruments to be invented. There has been since 1963 the annual competition, “Panorama“, which is part of carnival festivities, and always features arrangements of calypso or soca songs. Other steel band competitions organized outside of the carnival season feature arrangements of a wide variety of music (e.g., Beethoven’s Fifth). Below is video of a band warming up for Panorama 2012, in which you can see the variety of different pans, from low bass to treble, and the dancing style of performance:

The roots of calypso developed before the steel pan, however, originating in the “kalinda” rhythm and singing accompanying stick fighting — which can be brutal, people lose eyeballs! — and the influence of a various types of European music. (See COWLEY, “Carnival Canboulay and Calypso, Traditions in the making,” Cambridge University Press, 1996.) Here is an example of stick fighting accompanied by drumming and song.

“Calypso” is a polysemic term to its practitioners, meaning song and rhythm. Preceeding the steelpan was the instrument, “tamboo bamboo”, invented after drumming had been outlawed. Here is an example:

Clearly, calypso has developed from a variety of influences, positive and negative.

In the first phase of our project, we seek to accomplish the following:
A) produce a state of the art review of “computational ethnomusicology,” and more generally the application of computers to musicology;
B) define use cases centred upon the needs of three groups: ethnomusicologist, composer, MIR researcher;
C) test existing methods for addressing these use cases.

These intermediate results set us up for phase two of DaCaRyH, when we will begin to build and apply new methods to address these use cases, and implement them within the Telemeta platform developed by Parisson. The next meeting of DaCaRyH will occur in London in September 2016.

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6 thoughts on “Data science for the study of Calypso-rhythm through history (DaCaRyH)

  1. Pingback: Project DaCaRyH has begun! | Machine Listening Lab

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