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SYMPOSIUM 2: "MODELING RHYTHMIC COMPLEXITY"

January 23-26, 2018

This symposium will explore intersecting tools and methodologies from the fields of music information retrieval, computational analysis, and experimental psychology, for application to the study of complex rhythmic structures. The symposium theme relates closely to Dr. Poudrier’s ongoing exploration of how perceptual processes and cognitive limits interact with musical creativity and expression through the use of polyrhythm and polymeter (the superposition of competing rhythms and meters). A computational approach supported with signal processing technology and complemented by behavioural studies would not only allow for the inclusion of music from oral traditions in this study, but also allow for a cross-cultural exploration of the psychological and social mechanisms at play in the creation of meaning through specific compositional techniques.

This symposium is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Poudrier (eve.poudrier@ubc.ca).


SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Tuesday, January 23, 2018, 5–6 pm (with reception to follow), Coach House, Green College, University of British Columbia

This event is free and open to the public.

Title: Groove on the Brain: The Neuroscience of Rhythm

Presenter: Peter Vuust (Neuroscience, Director of the Music in the Brain Research Group, Aarhus University, Denmark)

Abstract: Musical rhythm has a remarkable capacity to move our minds and bodies. Even though the ability and drive towards moving to music are natural to most people, this ability seems to be relatively unique to humans. Why is it that James Brown always fills the dance floor? With novel brain scanning techniques, we now have the possibility of trying to understand the neural underpinning of these remarkable effects. Evidenced by our latest brain scanning and behavioral experiments, I will address how and why we move to music and present a simple, yet powerful model for how the brain processes musical rhythm. I will focus on two phenomenologically distinct, yet structurally related types of rhythmic material: the occasional appearance of a surprising beat followed by a surprising rest (syncopation), and repeating syncopated patterns (groove). I will show how this model can explain why isolated syncopations lead to stronger prediction error in the brains of musicians as evidenced by larger ERPs to rhythmic incongruity and why we all experience a stronger urge to move to grooves with a medium level of syncopation compared to low and high levels of syncopation. Furthermore, I will show that musical tension created by syncopation and polyrhythm plays a central role in musical communication and discuss the role of the neurohormone oxytocin in this regard. These studies go to the heart of why we have music from an evolutionary point of view.

Peter Vuust

Peter Vuust

About the Presenter: Peter Vuust is a unique combination of a jazz musician and a world class scientist. As a researcher, he is Denmark’s leading expert in the field of music and the brain – a research field he has single-handedly built up as leader of the group Music in the Brain. He is internationally recognised, widely quoted and received in October 2014 the Danish National Research Foundation’s centre grant of DKK 52 million to found the Center for Music in the Brain. As a composer and bass player he has collaborated with a variety of artists, from Danish pop stars to some of the world’s major, international jazz artists, and released a number of albums with his own compositions.

*This events is co-sponsored by Green College and Early Music Vancouver as part of the Special Lecture Series Transforming Sounds / Altered Selves.

 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 10–11:45 am, Asian Center 105, University of British Columbia

Title: Around the World in 30 Beats: A Lecture-Demonstration

Presenter: Nori Jacoby (Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University)

Abstract: Rhythm is regarded as feature of music that is common to all humans.  However, recent research suggests that musical features previously regarded as universal may in fact be culturally dependent. By testing multiple cultures with a same novel paradigm developed in Jacoby & McDermott (2017), we aim to explore the extent to which the internal representation of rhythms differs across cultures, and whether these differences can be explained by factors such as language, demographic conditions, and incidental features of local musical traditions. This talk presents results from Botswana, Mali, Brazil, Bolivia, the United States, and South Korea that suggest that musical exposure, far more than language or geography, profoundly affects not only our experience of music, but also our brains.

Workshop materials: To learn more about recent research and findings related to the workshop topic, read this.

This workshop is free and open to UBC students, faculty and staff. Registration is not required, but recommended. To pre-register, contact Grant Sawatzky (grant.sawatzky@ubc.ca). For more information, contact Dr. Poudrier (eve.poudrier@ubc.ca).

Nori Jacoby

Nori Jacoby

About the Presenter: Nori Jacoby is interested in exploring the role of culture in auditory perception, using iterated learning alongside classical psychophysical methods to characterize perceptual biases in music and speech rhythms in populations around the world. His previous work focused on the mathematical modeling of sensorimotor synchronization in the form of tapping experiments as well as the application of machine-learning techniques to model aspects of musical syntax, including tonal harmony, birdsong, and the perception of musical form. He is currently a Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience at Columbia University. Previously, he was a postdoc at the McDermott Computational Audition Lab at MIT, and a visiting postdoctoral researcher in Tom Griffiths's Computational Cognitive Science Lab at Berkeley. Nori completed his Ph.D. at the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the supervision of Naftali Tishby and Merav Ahissar, and holds a M.A. in Mathematics from the same institution. His research has been published in journals including Current Biology, Nature, Nature Scientific Reports, Philosophical Transactions B, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Vision, and Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.

 

Thursday, January 25, 2018, 9–10:15 am, Room 400B, School of Music, University of British Columbia

Title: Analyzing Polyrhythm and Metric Separation with Symbolic Notation: Some Constraints and Future Directions

Presenter: Daniel Shanahan (Music Cognition and Computation Lab, Louisiana State University)

Abstract: The analysis of complex rhythms and meters can present difficulties for those hoping to engage in computational musicology and corpus studies. For example, rhythms such as quintuplets and septuplets present mathematical and representational problems (these are often represented as a fraction, which sometimes do not exactly equal a complete beat), and multiple parts are more likely to be misaligned at the beat level. As computational analysis begins to incorporate corpora of more complex music, the tools need to expanded, and frameworks for analyzing such pieces need to be established. This workshop will address some of the issues inherent in the analysis of musical rhythm through the use of computational tools, focusing on the representation of musical rhythms in symbolic corpora. It will also discuss the difficulties that arise as rhythms become more complex and present strategies for identifying rhythmic streams. Although it will focus specifically the Humdrum Toolkit (Huron, 1995), other tools (such as music21 and MEI) will also be discussed.

Workshop Materials: Participants who wish to have a more hands-on experience should come to the workshop with Humdrum, R, R studio pre-installed on their laptops.

This workshop is free and open to UBC students, faculty and staff. Registration is not required, but recommended. To pre-register, contact Grant Sawatzky (grant.sawatzky@ubc.ca). For more information, contact Dr. Poudrier (eve.poudrier@ubc.ca).

Daniel Shanahan

Daniel Shanahan

About the Presenter: Daniel Shanahan is Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Louisiana State University, where he also runs the Music Cognition and Computation Lab. Before arriving at LSU, Daniel taught music theory, history, and cognition at the University of Virginia, and was a post-doctoral research fellow at Ohio State University, where he worked with David Huron. Daniel’s research interests include music and emotion, the diffusion of musical style, corpus studies, and the computational analysis of jazz and folk music. His work has been published in Music Perception, the Journal of Jazz Studies, the Journal of New Music Research, the Journal of the Acoustical Society of AmericaFrontiers in Psychology, and Empirical Musicology Review, among others. In addition to many speaking at many national and international conferences, Daniel has given invited lectures at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany, the University of British Columbia, the University of South Carolina, and Northwestern University. He recently contributed the chapter on tonality, harmony, and counterpoint to the Routledge Companion to Music Cognition (Routledge, 2017), and has forthcoming chapters in Over and Over Again: Exploring Repetition in Popular Music (Bloomsbury, forthcoming), Scholarly Approaches to Mathematical Music Theory (World Scientific, forthcoming), as well as multiple chapters in the Oxford Handbook of Music and Corpus Studies (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), for which he is also serving as co-editor. He has contributed book reviews to Theory and Practice and Music Theory Online.

 

Thursday, January 25, 2018, 1–2:15 pm, Room 400B, School of Music, University of British Columbia

Title: Predictive Coding and Rhythmic Incongruity

Presenter: Peter Vuust (Neuroscience, Director of the Music in the Brain Research Group, Aarhus University, Denmark)

Abstract: This workshop explores how and why we move to music by focusing on two phenomenologically distinct, yet structurally related types of rhythmic material: the occasional appearance of a surprising beat followed by a surprising rest (syncopation), and repeating syncopated patterns (groove). We will explore in more depth how the model of predictive coding can explain why isolated syncopations lead to stronger prediction error in the brains of musicians and why we all experience a stronger urge to move to grooves with a medium level of syncopation compared to low and high levels of syncopation. The workshop will aim to demonstrate that musical tension created by syncopation and polyrhythm plays a central role in musical communication, and that research findings on brain processes can inform our understanding of human evolution.

Workshop Materials:

Participants can prepare by reviewing the following scientific articles:

- Vuust et al., (2005), “To musicians, the message is in the meter: Pre-attentive neuronal responses to incongruent rhythm are left-lateralized in musicians

- Vuust et al., (2006), “It don't mean a thing… Keeping the rhythm during polyrhythmic tension, activates language areas (BA47)

- Vuust & Witek, (2014), “Rhythmic complexity and predictive coding: A novel approach to modeling rhythm and meter perception in music

- Witek et al., (2014), “Syncopation, body-movement and pleasure in groove music

This workshop is free and open to UBC students, faculty and staff. Registration is not required, but recommended. To pre-register, contact Grant Sawatzky (grant.sawatzky@ubc.ca). For more information, contact Dr. Poudrier (eve.poudrier@ubc.ca).

Peter Vuust

Peter Vuust

About the Presenter: Peter Vuust is a unique combination of a jazz musician and a world class scientist. As a researcher, he is Denmark’s leading expert in the field of music and the brain – a research field he has single-handedly built up as leader of the group Music in the Brain. He is internationally recognised, widely quoted and received in October 2014 the Danish National Research Foundation’s centre grant of DKK 52 million to found the Center for Music in the Brain. As a composer and bass player he has collaborated with a variety of artists, from Danish pop stars to some of the world’s major, international jazz artists, and released a number of albums with his own compositions.

 

Thursday, January 25, 2018, 8–9 pm, Piano Lounge, Graham House, Green College, University of British Columbia

This event is free and open to the public.

Title: Conversing Music: Rhythmic Coordination in Jazz Improvisation

Presenters: Jeff Groh Trio and Jaelem Bhate (School of Music, University of British Columbia), with Nori Jacoby (Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University)

Abstract: This event proposes to explore the process of musical communication through the lenses of rhythmic production and ensemble coordination in the context of jazz improvisation. The audience will be invited to engage in conversations on musical creativity and the role of complex rhythms in the communication of emotion and meaning through the musical medium.

Program: Mist Opportunity (Jaelem Bhate), Evening Flight (Jeff Groh), Nardis (Miles Davis), Footprints (Wayne Shorter), Amongst the Rabbits (Jeff Groh).

Supplementary materials: For participants who are planning to attend this event, the following materials might also be of interest:

Video preview of current work on music-dance relations using motion capture technology to record the movements of dancers in Mali and relate it to rhythm music and rhythm.

Scientific presentation on leadership project at ICMPC 15 and a related paper; the music itself is featured on Rainer Polak’s website at https://www.rainerpolak.de/field-recordings/audio-albums/

About the Presenters:

Nori Jacoby

Nori Jacoby

Nori Jacoby is interested in exploring the role of culture in auditory perception, using iterated learning alongside classical psychophysical methods to characterize perceptual biases in music and speech rhythms in populations around the world. His previous work focused on the mathematical modeling of sensorimotor synchronization in the form of tapping experiments as well as the application of machine-learning techniques to model aspects of musical syntax, including tonal harmony, birdsong, and the perception of musical form. He is currently a Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience at Columbia University. Previously, he was a postdoc at the McDermott Computational Audition Lab at MIT, and a visiting postdoctoral researcher in Tom Griffiths's Computational Cognitive Science Lab at Berkeley. Nori completed his Ph.D. at the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the supervision of Naftali Tishby and Merav Ahissar, and holds a M.A. in Mathematics from the same institution. His research has been published in journals including Current Biology, Nature, Nature Scientific Reports, Philosophical Transactions B, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Vision, and Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.

Originally from Hummelstown Pennsylvania, Jeff Groh studies Biology and Music Composition at the University of British Columbia. Jeff has performed in various settings during his time in Vancouver, including the UBC Jazz 1 and Jeff Groh Trio with peers Jaelem Bhate and Jacques Forest. He has studied piano with Alan Matheson and composition with Fred Stride and Dorothy Chang. His original compositions incorporate elements of contemporary classical, jazz, funk, and gospel.

Jacques Forest is a young bassist from Calgary, experienced in both classical and jazz playing. Currently living in Vancouver to study orchestral bass with Ken Friedman at the University of British Columbia, he works regularly on the jazz scene as a freelance musician. Influenced by jazz bassists such as Scott LaFaro, Gary Peacock, Charlie Haden, and Mike Downes, his sound incorporates these influences and also draws from his work with the classical medium. Jacques has performed with many groups, including the inaugural JazzYYC Youth Lab Band, AIBF Honour Jazz Band, 45th Avenue Big Band, UBC Jazz 1, Jeff Groh Trio, Jaelem Bhate Group, Last Call, Jeff Groh New Quartet, and Andrew McDonald Trio.

Aaron Graham is an award-winning composer, performer, and educator. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Percussion Performance from the University of Kentucky, and a Master’s Degree at the University of British Columbia, where he is currently a Doctoral Fellow and teaches music courses. As an emerging composer, Aaron won the 2014 PAS International Percussion Composition Contest with his percussion ensemble piece “Sleeping Bear.” Aaron’s works have been performed across the United States and Canada, by both professional and university ensembles. He has also travelled across North and South America playing drum set, percussion, and singing with various pop, rock, and country groups. An active educator, his teachings and reviews have been published in Percussive Notes, The Instrumentalist, International Journal of Music and Performing Arts, and The National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy. He resides in Vancouver (BC) with his wife Kelly.

Jaelem Bhate is a conductor, composer, and percussionist from Vancouver, B.C. whose musical diversity has come to define his career. Jaelem is currently pursuing his Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting at UBC. He has conducted many ensembles throughout the lower mainland and is heavily involved in new music projects. Jaelem is also active as a composer both locally and internationally, having written music for a wide array of ensembles and soloists. He founded and directs the 45th Ave Jazz Band, a 17-piece jazz orchestra that exclusively performs his compositions. His works have been featured on recital programs throughout Canada and the United States, and his music will be featured as part of the 2018 Jean Coulthard Readings, presented by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

*This event is funded by the UBC Research Excellence Clusters Initiative and co-sponsored by Green College and Early Music Vancouver as part of the Special Lecture Series Transforming Sounds / Altered Selves.

 

Friday, January 26, 2018, 12–12:50 pm (with reception to follow), Room 400B, School of Music, University of British Columbia

This event is free and open to the public.

Title: Modeling Rhythmic Complexity: Challenges and Prospects (Roundtable discussion)

Moderated by Ève Poudrier (School of Music, University of British Columbia).