Laurence Dreyfus awarded AHRC Large Grant

Professor Laurence Dreyfus

As a co-investigator participating in an AHRC-funded Large Grant ‘Transforming Musicology’ (£1.4 million, 2013–2016), Professor Laurence Dreyfus will join a pioneering collaboration between musicologists, computer scientists, audio engineers and psychologists working in several universities (Goldsmiths College London, Queen Mary College London, Utrecht University and Oxford), seeking to extend traditional musicological investigations by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by data-rich music information retrieval (MIR).
 
In his work at the Music Faculty, Professor Dreyfus will be augmenting traditionally humanistic methods used to study Richard Wagner’s influential system of leitmotifs (via historical documentation, close score analysis, and metaphor theory from philosophy and linguistics) with state-of-the-art MIR tools operating on encoded scores and recordings. The musicological goal is to shed light on Wagner’s developing compositional praxis in which constantly altered but recognisable repeated musical segments evoke emotive and dramatic gestures in ever changing ways.
 
A funded DPhil student researcher (supervised at Oxford) will collate, catalogue and analyse variant identifications of Wagner’s Ring leitmotifs in contrasting European cultures (1876–1976). As part of the research team, this doctoral student will help to refine the MIR tools being developed (at Oxford E-Research, Goldsmiths and Queen Mary) – offering feedback to improve the user-interface and ensuring the tools are musically credible – as well as coordinating with empirical cognitive research on the psychological reality of leitmotif recognition (at Goldsmiths).