Analysis of Expressive Microvariations in Oral Tradition Music: Two Studies from Romania and Brazil

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In this paper, I pay tribute to Speranța Rădulescu by discussing two fundamental aspects of the ethnomusicological research that Speranța cultivated throughout her career: the recording of oral tradition musicians and analysis of their repertoire.
How do these two dimensions of our profession evolve when examining the question of musical emotion? In my analyses of rural music from Transylvania (Romania) and Pernambuco (Brazil), I focused on multimodal recordings and on the analysis of “expressive microvariations” (see Alf Gabrielsson, “Expressive Intention and Performance”). In the first case (Transylvania), I applied multi-track and motion capture technologies to measure the asynchronization between a violinist and a bracist (three-string viola player) based on the analysis of their gestures. In the second case (Brazil), multi-track recordings and automatic onset detection algorithms allowed us to analyze the micro-deviations in time (microtiming) in a group of five percussionists performing Maracatu de baque solto. The empirical study of these parameters reveals playing strategies that may differ subtly from those used by performers of music of written tradition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-224
Number of pages29
JournalMusicology Today. Journal of the National University of Music Bucharest
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventInternational Musicological Symposium: Musical Creation and Exegesis - National University of Music in Bucharest
Duration: 28 May 202228 May 2022


  • Music
  • Ethnomusiclogy
  • Romanian music
  • Brazil
  • Anthropology
  • Music Analysis


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