Centre papers at International Musicological Society in Tokyo

Centre papers at International Musicological Society in Tokyo

The Centre’s Senior Researcher Dr Kevin Page and DPhil student Carolin Rindfleisch have presented a paper on Leitmotif Interpretations at the congress of the International Musicological Society  in Tokyo, now in its 90th year.

The theme of the 2017 conference, which more than 760 delegates from over 46 countries are attending, was Musicology, Theory and Practice, East and West.

Kevin and Carolin discussed models and accompanying software they have developed which associate leitmotif material as Linked Data, enabling the exploration and illustration of analytical observations, and justification of hypotheses, arguments and conclusions.

Leitmotif lists and interpretations are proposed in many historical guides and opera studies relating to Richard Wagner’s compositions. From these sources, researchers can chart how Wagner’s music has been heard and ‘understood’ in different historical and cultural contexts, presenting an intricate and multifaceted corpus for study.

Carolin is a DPhil student on the Transforming Musicology project at Oxford, co-supervised between the Faculty of Music and the e-Research Centre. During her studies, Carolin has developed flexible digital methods to explore the network of leitmotif reception information, and to encode observations derived from it. She has sought to gather and generate digital records to enable musicological study of the potential relationships, influence and evolution between leitmotif interpretations over time, creating an ontology using Semantic Web tools to do so.

In their paper, Kevin and Carolin describe this ontology alongside the ‘MELD’ software (Music Encoding and Linked Data) developed by the Digital Humanities team in the Centre. MELD processes Linked Data to present a visual interface for exploring the leitmotif materials alongside digital notation examples of the motifs, and facilitates the swift reformulation and recontextualisation of the network of leitmotif writings in relation to each other.

The paper also proposes that the types of software and encodings applied within the team’s work — which have traditionally been confined to the sciences — might be applied more widely within musicology, offering alternative but complementary methods for systematic cataloguing, interpretation and reflection of digital materials.

Centre Researcher David Lewis  also presented a co-authored paper at the conference: Understanding Community Structure in Musicology.

The paper defines a dataset of musicological scholarly work, drawn from a number of research outlets that publish on the web. Using this corpus the authors create network models based on common institutions and co-editorship and interrogate these models using both statistical methods and network analytics to see the community structure within scholarly musicology.

They examine where these communities do and  do  not  follow  physical  and  geographic  boundaries,  as  well  as how  these  structures  affect  the  spread of particular ideas and tropes. Through this empirical research they work to inform a better understanding of the ecology of scholarly musicology, across cultures, sub-disciplines, and institutions.