The timing of grace notes in skilled musical performance at different tempi: A preliminary case study
SourcePsychology of Music, 29, 2, (2001), pp. 149-169
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC AI
SW OZ DCC CO
Psychology of Music
An empirical study is reported which investigates the relationship between musical structure and the timing of 11 grace notes in 45 performances by the same performer of a short Beethoven piano piece at a range of tempi. These performances were recorded and analyzed so as to extract timing measurements, and the pianist was interviewed to gain insights into his conscious performing strategies. Significant differences in the relative length of different grace notes were found: the two grace notes with a large descending pitch interval were played significantly longer than the others. Additionally, the grace notes were timed such that they did not 'take time' from the note they are nominally attached to, but from the preceding time interval. Close attention to interview data provided by the pianist reveals that the relative timing of the grace notes corresponds to his claims that he was mimicking the motor constraints of vocalists and string players. Lastly, the data provided additional evidence against the notion that changes in overall tempo always leave the relative proportion of adjacent events invariant. Grace notes with a longer mean duration tended to deviate significantly from proportional duration, whilst shorter grace notes were roughly invariant over tempo.
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