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Tuesday, July 9 • 10:30 - 10:50

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For plucked strings instruments, such as the harp, the instrumentalist brings the string to a particular state defining its future free oscillations. The sound characteristics are therefore defined by the initial conditions of the string vibrations, which are driven by the finger/string interaction. To control his/her sound, the harpist owns specific plucking strategies highly dependent on his/her morphology and on the musical context. To reach this fingertip motion accuracy, the whole-body has to be recruited because of the harp constraints. Indeed, the harp is about 1.8 m high and weights about 35 kg, which require the lower-limbs and the trunk to be responsible for the posture stability, while the upper-limbs are obviously involved in reaching and plucking the strings, using a plucking force up to 20 N. Consequently, the understanding of the harpists' musical signature would benefit from getting insight into the harpists' gestural strategies. To this aim, the present study investigates harpist's individual kinematics strategies with respect to his/her plucking action in a realistic context. A specific experimental procedure was designed to measure synchronously the instrumentalist's whole-body motion and the plucking characteristics. Eight harpists were asked to perform the same piece with imposed tempo and nuance. Kinematics was derived from nine inertial sensors, while the plucking force was estimated by a specific processing method from string displacement measurements. A set of six strings distributed across the instrument's tessitura (from 92 Hz to 495 Hz), made of various material (wire, gut, and nylon), and of various tension (from 706 N to 127 N) was investigated. Results outlined the common and specific upper-limb strategies according to the strings properties. This contribution opens up new perspectives in musical performance analyses by underlining the significance of the whole-body biomechanical control while playing.

avatar for Caroline Traube

Caroline Traube

Associate professor, University of Montreal


Tuesday July 9, 2019 10:30 - 10:50 EDT
Outremont 7
  T14 Musical acoustic, SS03 Biomech cntrl of music instrum