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A microtonal tuning method: Test & discussion on the use of microtonal intervals for the performance of traditional Turkish music

Title A microtonal tuning method: Test & discussion on the use of microtonal intervals for the performance of traditional Turkish music
Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication 2013
Authors Tamer, Y. B. , & Bozkurt B.
Journal Title Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies (JIMS)
Volume 7
Issue 1-2
Pages 73-88
Abstract Background in music computing: An automatic method for tuning analysis of recordings was presented in (Bozkurt 2008). Data collected from this method have been used to develop a new microtonal tuner system implemented in Max MSP and Java (Tamer and Bozkurt 2013). The distinctive quality of the tuning method (previously demonstrated in (Bozkurt 2012)) is the use of a recording as reference instead of theoretical presets. During the process, fundamental frequency analysis is performed and pitch distributions are obtained for the selected recordings. This data is visualized via the tuner interface along with the real-time frequency estimate from the input signal to realize the tuning operation. Background in music performance: Electronic tuner devices are widely used by musicians. However these devices offer only a limited number of theoretical presets and equal temperament is the primary one. Lack of consistency between tuning theory and its practice of Turkish makam music has been addressed in a number of studies such as (Ay and Akkal 2008; Bozkurt et al. 2009). In the general traditional Turkish music concept, when microtonal intervals are used, the question of how musicians interpret the theory and apply it into their tuning practices arises. Aims: We investigate the relevance of tuning practices applied by three selected musicians who perform traditional Turkish music with the authentic intervals used by master musicians in selected recordings. We present the microtonal tuner application in order to provide a basic research tool for musicians and ethnomusicologists. Main contribution: The manuscript presents the user tests carried out with three professional musicians who perform traditional Turkish music and discusses the outcomes. A semistructured interview method is applied in order to test the process with the musicians. The tests contain comparisons of performances with and without the aid of the microtonal tuner application, providing insight to the musicians’ regular tuning practices and discussing further possibilities on the use of the application. The tests include recordings by well-known Turkish master musicians who perform microtonal music as Turkish makam music (one example) and Turkish folk music (three examples). Implications: By offering a direct access to any tuning system used by a master musician that has been captured in a recording, the application presented in this paper is suitable to serve as a computational ethnomusicology (CE) tool, thus has the potential to assist in ethnomusicological research. (Tzanetakis et al. 2007).
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