"From Musical Acoustics of the Earth to Computational Ethnomusicology of Traditional Georgian Vocal Music"

Prof. Frank Scherbaum

The Potsdam part of the research project „Computational Ethnomusicology of Traditional Georgian Vocal Music“ (PIs Meinard Müller/Erlangen and myself/Potsdam) is probably the only existing ethnomusicological research project hosted at a Geoscience Institute, which at first glance may seem an oddity.

After an introduction illustrating the similarities between volcano seismology and singing research, I will discuss the concept of seismologically inspired recording techniques in ethnomusicological field work. In this context, I will show how we can solve the problem of voice separation by systematically using muscle vibration sensors (larynx microphones) as additional devices and thus obtain recordings that are ideally suited for computational analysis.

I will discuss selected results of computational analysis and representation of oral tradition, non-tempered vocal music from Georgia. In this context, funeral dirges from Upper Svaneti, which are believed by Georgian musicologists to still contain living traces of the oldest layers of Georgian polyphony, represent a particularly fascinating research scenario.

Project website: https://www.uni-potsdam.de/en/soundscapelab/