Dodson, Alan. “Expressive Timing in Expanded Phrases: An Empirical Study on Recordings of Three Chopin Preludes.” Music Performance Research 4 (2011): 2–29.
Empirical research on expressive timing in expert performance suggests that there is an especially close relationship between timing and phrase structure. However, this work has relied on rudimentary definitions of phrase, and has mostly been limited to examples with simple, symmetrical phrase structures. The present study seeks to move beyond these limits by engaging current theoretical discourse on phrase structure and by exploring examples that involve asymmetrical phrase structures arising from techniques of phrase expansion. The study concentrates on average tempo profiles across thirty recordings of Chopin’s Preludes op. 28 nos. 1 (C major) and 3 (G major) and sixty-four recordings of no. 6 (B minor). Data were collected at the tactus level using a tap-along method in the case of the C-major and G-major Preludes, and using an automated beat extraction algorithm followed by manual corrections in the case of the B-minor Prelude. Eight hypotheses regarding the relationship between phrase structure and expressive timing are extrapolated from these examples, and it is hoped that these might form a starting point for further research on expressive timing in complex phrase structures.
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