Analysis-by-synthesis of timbre, timing, and dynamics in expressive clarinet performance

Authors: Barthet M., Depalle P., Kronland-Martinet R., Ystad S.
Publication Date: January 2011
Journal: Music Perception (vol. 28(3), pp. 265-278, 2011)

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In a previous study, mechanical and expressive clarinet performances of Bach’s Suite No. II and Mozart’s Quintet for Clarinet and Strings were analyzed to determine whether some acoustical correlates of timbre (e.g., spectral centroid), timing (intertone onset interval), and dynamics (root mean square envelope) showed significant differences depending on the expressive intention of the performer. In the present companion study, we investigate the effects of these acoustical parameters on listeners’ preferences. An analysis-by-synthesis approach was used to transform previously recorded clarinet performances by reducing the expressive deviations from the spectral centroid, the intertone onset interval and the acoustical energy. Twenty skilled musicians were asked to select which version they preferred in a paired-comparison task. The results of statistical analyses showed that the removal of the spectral centroid variations resulted in the greatest loss of musical preference.


Score of Bach excerpt

This excerpt is the first musical phrase of the Allemande movement from Bach’s Suite II for Cello (BWV. 1008). The adaptation for clarinet is from U. Delécluse.



Score of Mozart excerpt

This excerpt is taken from the Larghetto movement from Mozart’s Quintet for Clarinet and Strings (KV. 581). The first musical phrase (first four bars) was selected to generate the sound stimuli.



Sound Examples

Analysis-synthesis model

Sound stimuli

Bach excerpt:

Mozart excerpt