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Structure and interaction in Cretan leaping dances: Connecting ethnography and computational analysis

Colloquium Musicology
Dr. Andre Holzapfel, Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm

Thursday 18 May 2017, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, Room 3.01

Cretan Music is a vibrant and diverse living tradition, which – despite its identity-forming significance for the local population – is little-known to tourists and international academia. Throughout the recent decades, local musicians in Crete have spent a lot of effort to re-discover local dance tunes, and nowadays a number of almost 20 local dances are taught in various dance schools on the island. These dances differ in terms of the dancers' movements, but musically the differences are far less obvious. Corpus-based methods to analyze recordings or transcriptions in terms of tempo, rhythmic accent, and melodic phrases can provide an understanding of some characteristic traits of the dance tunes. However, the questions which are the functions of these dances in performance contexts, and how these functions interact with the observed musical structures, can only be addressed by incorporating ethnographic approaches. In my personal fieldwork I address these questions by documenting the role of specific dances in a festivity, and by conducting interviews with dancers and musicians. At the core of this research process that combines quantitative corpus analysis with ethnography is the interest in the interaction between musician and dancer. An understanding of this interaction is the key to understanding the significance of Cretan music in today's Cretan society.

Dr. Andre Holzapfel is Assistant Professor at the Media Technology and Interaction Design Department, School of Computer Science and Communication, at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm since October 1, 2016. In parallel to this background in Computer Science, he is conducting a second PhD in ethnomusicology, with a focus on dance in the island of Crete. His research at KTH is within the area of Sound and Music Computing (SMC), with his main interests being interdisciplinary approaches between SMC and (ethno)musicology, and interactive systems for music performances and rehabilitation. During his post-doctoral research, he had a strong focus on Music Information Retrieval, such as the development of beat and meter tracking in musical audio signals. The resulting expertise in rhythmic aspects of music inform his current research in SMC and ethnomusicology. Further information can be obtained from his website