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On the Characterization of Expressive Performance in Classical Music First Results of the Con Espressione Game

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Document pages: 8 pages

Abstract: A piece of music can be expressively performed, or interpreted, in a varietyof ways. With the help of an online questionnaire, the Con Espressione Game, wecollected some 1,500 descriptions of expressive character relating to 45performances of 9 excerpts from classical piano pieces, played by differentfamous pianists. More specifically, listeners were asked to describe, usingfreely chosen words (preferably: adjectives), how they perceive the expressivecharacter of the different performances. In this paper, we offer a firstaccount of this new data resource for expressive performance research, andprovide an exploratory analysis, addressing three main questions: (1) howsimilarly do different listeners describe a performance of a piece? (2) whatare the main dimensions (or axes) for expressive character emerging from this?;and (3) how do measurable parameters of a performance (e.g., tempo, dynamics)and mid- and high-level features that can be predicted by machine learningmodels (e.g., articulation, arousal) relate to these expressive dimensions? Thedataset that we publish along with this paper was enriched by addinghand-corrected score-to-performance alignments, as well as descriptive audiofeatures such as tempo and dynamics curves.

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