DaCaRyH Meeting at QMUL

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On September 14, 2016, QMUL welcomed the French contingent of DaCaRyH for a focused day of updates, discussions, an invited talk, a concert and some excellent curry.

The day began with an update from the UK partners (Bob L. Sturm, Oded Ben-Tal and
Elio Quinton). Bob and Oded discussed preliminary work on music transcription modeling using recurrent neural networks, and in particular the evaluation of such models. While this preliminary work involves music using Celtic idioms (because we have the data), it encompasses our vision for adapting it to calypso music. In the coming months, we seek to adapt the model to create a “calypsofier”. Finally, Elio finished the UK presentations by discussing a nice musicological use case of detecting metric modulations in a collection. This work will continue in the coming months.

The French partners (Aurelie Helmlinger, Florabelle Spielmann, Joséphine Simonnot, Guillaume Pellerin, Thomas Fillon) then presented an update of their work. Aurelie discussed two pieces, and how they play with the Calypso style. The first was a “bomb tune” that features a portion of “Nessum Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot. It is a really fantastic example of how steelbands borrow and adapt for impressing judges at annual competitions like Panorama.

The second piece discussed by Aurelie is named “Calypso D Lite”. We heard the piece performed in two different versions: 1) by a steelband; 2) by a Japanese group. The differences between them were startling, with the Japanese version sounding much more like Bossa Nova. Aurelie presented some discussion of a calypso player of whether or not the Japanese version was calypso. One criteria to emerge was the presence of the “yoo kee tee” rhythm. Another was the sound texture.

Florabelle presented some insightful interviews with a Trinidadian drummer who works with the steelband BP Renegades. Together they identified prototypical rhythms of early calypso, modern calypso, and soca. It was interesting to see what aspects of the drumming patterns remain constant, and what are left for individual expression. Another important observation is that sound texture is very important to the discussion of whether something is calypso or not. Metal is essential aspects of the style: hi-hats, irons, and steel pans.

The French presentations ended with Guillaume and Thomas talking about the TimeSide player, and annotation tools in Telemeta. One deliverable of DaCaRyH will be new and improved plugins for such an annotation platform.

After a lovely lunch along Regent’s Canal, Professorial Research Fellow Tim Crawford from Goldsmiths, University of London gave an invited talk about his many years of research in music and computation. He provided deep discussions about the role and importance of context, and how a lot of work has yet to be done to integrate context with content. One poignant example Tim presented was of Rostropovich playing Dvorak’s cello concerto at the 1968 Proms in London:

One youtube comment says: “This is, in my opinion, one of the most important musical performances of the second half of the century, if not the whole of the century.” Any music listening system will surely miss why because it is extrinsic to the recording. Questions of “music similarity” and “music recommendation” are irrelevant here. (Imagine: based on your “thumbs up” of this 1968 performance of Rostropovich, we recommend you listen to this performance of Beethoven.) This powerful example reminds us how music is a record of many, many more things than notes, rests and instruments.

We continued our day’s discussions in a proper English fashion with real ales at a local pub. We followed this up by attending a performance of the wonderful Magnetic Resonator Piano. And then concluded with excellent curry at the highly popular Tayyabs restaurant.

We have lots of exciting work ahead, including an article surveying computational musicology for the French journal Cahiers d’Ethnomusicologie.

The next meeting of DaCaRyH will be in Paris early next year.

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