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Exploring tonal-dramatic relationships in richard Wagner's ring cycle

: Zalkow, F.; Weiß, C.; Müller, M.

International Society for Music Information Retrieval -ISMIR-:
18th International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference, ISMIR 2017. Proceedings : 23rd - 27th October 2017, Suzhou, China
Suzhou, 2017
ISBN: 978-9-8111517-9-8
International Society for Music Information Retrieval (ISMIR Conference) <18, 2017, Suzhou>
Fraunhofer IIS ()

Richard Wagner's cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, consisting of four music dramas, constitutes a comprehensive work of high importance forWestern music history. In this paper, we indicate how MIR methods can be applied to explore this large-scale work with respect to tonal properties. Our investigations are based on a data set that contains 16 audio recordings of the entire Ring as well as extensive annotations including measure positions, singer activities, and leitmotif regions. As a basis for the tonal analysis, we make use of common audio features, which capture local chord and scale information. Employing a crossversion approach, we show that global histogram representations can reflect certain tonal relationships in a robust way. Based on our annotations, a musicologist may easily select and compare passages associated with dramatic aspects, for example, the appearance of specific characters or the presence of particular leitmotifs. Highlighting and investigating such passages may provide insights into the role of tonality for the dramatic conception of Wagner's Ring. By giving various concrete examples, we indicate how our approach may open up new ways for exploring large musical corpora in an intuitive and interactive way.