Movin' Grips: body controlled marimba sound production Acoustic, judgmental and artistic evaluation of the Albert method of movement in marimba education

Date: 7 December 2016

Venue: Koninklijk Conservatorium Antwerpen - Witte Zaal - Desguinlei 25 - 2018 Antwerpen

Time: 5:00 PM - 7:30 PM

PhD candidate: Ludwig Albert

Principal investigator: Prof Jozef Colpaert, Prof Eugeen Schreurs

Short description: PhD defence Ludwig Albert - Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts


Body controlled marimba sound production Acoustic, judgmental and artistic evaluation of the Albert method of movement in marimba education

In this study, a scientific method has been used to analyze the natural, acoustic sonority resulting from the application of the designed Albert method of movement in marimba performance. It contains an empirical validation of the hypothesis that the movement method can be used for further improvement in sonority and musical interpretation at all levels of marimba education. In addition to a general introduction and concluding reflections, the dissertation contains three theoretical and two empirical contributions. The theoretical chapters describe the research frameworks and perspectives in a comparison and analysis of the multiple four and six-mallet playing grip techniques, the developed Albert six- and novelty eight-mallet grip techniques and the design and analysis of the Albert method of movement (based on 25 years of praxis). Neither the conceptual nor pedagogical aspects of the full application of the method’s stroke movements and resulting tone production have been analyzed before, confirming that the Albert method of movement is an innovative concept in marimba performance.

This research has been conducted through two empirical studies: an analysis of body controlled movements with related tone production and a judgmental evaluation. The quantitative and qualitative acoustic evaluations of recorded stroke movements complement the scientific identification of differences in sound variations, harmonics and sonority through the spectrograms which were analyzed and used to substantiate evidence of differences. A judgmental inquiry evaluation was achieved through the analysis of audio recordings made of the same works performed by different students, both with a different degree of mastery of the Albert movement method and with varied grip techniques, mallet shafts and mallet heads hardness. This analysis showed the differences in interpretations and sonority and it clearly proved a preference for the recordings in which the Albert movement method was applied, and in which therefore a more rich sonority and musical interpretation was reached.

The results of this research and the qualitative approach to experiments in movement and to the scores in children’s performance have shown that change is necessary in marimba education at the beginner’s level, as awareness of movement from a young age will be a significant pedagogical contribution to the child’s further development, enabling the discovery of links between the musical score and body movement. The final chapter provides concluding didactic guidelines for improvement in sonority and musically expressive performance skills at all levels, pedagogical development, better practice and future continued research in marimba playing.

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