Each musical performance is built from hundreds of decisions, some made deliberately and some unconsciously. Many of these choices are difficult to explain. I use empirical methods to test hypotheses about how musical decisions are made. Below are examples of my more recent studies. For my full CV, click here.

The upper register in string playing and vocal affective cues

As part of my thesis, I researched a common practice I witnessed as a cellist: the concept that moving a melody from a low position (near the scroll) on a high string to a higher position (closer to the bridge) on a lower string would make it sound more expressive. My main hypothesis was that this practice could be mimicking the vocal affective cue in which speaking in the upper register of one’s voice communicates a high level of emotionality, such as with anger, fear, or surprise. The results of this study are published in my master’s thesis online through Ohio State University and will be published in the proceeds of the International Conference for Music Perception and Cognition in July 2016.


Animated Performance: Using motion capture to explore expressive performer motion

I am interested in how an audience discerns the level of ability of a performer. This study focused on the possible effects of the performer’s expressive motion on the audience’s judgement of their performance. Specifically, I hypothesized that participants would prefer a performer to have more expressive motion because they perceived it as communicating a higher level of playing. Motion capture technology was used to capture the movement of four musicians. These captures were animated in such a way that participants were able to alter the overall magnitude of the performers’  motion to be greater or lesser while not effecting the original sound recording. The results of this will also be published in ICMPC’s proceeds this July.