A Perceiver-Centered Approach for Representing and Annotating Prosodic Functions in Performed Music

Daniel Bedoya*, Lawrence Fyfe, Elaine Chew

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Musical prosody is characterized by the acoustic variations that make music expressive. However, few systematic and scalable studies exist on the function it serves or on effective tools to carry out such studies. To address this gap, we introduce a novel approach to capturing information about prosodic functions through a citizen science paradigm. In typical bottom-up approaches to studying musical prosody, acoustic properties in performed music and basic musical structures such as accents and phrases are mapped to prosodic functions, namely segmentation and prominence. In contrast, our top-down, human-centered method puts listener annotations of musical prosodic functions first, to analyze the connection between these functions, the underlying musical structures, and acoustic properties. The method is applied primarily to the exploring of segmentation and prominence in performed solo piano music. These prosodic functions are marked by means of four annotation types—boundaries, regions, note groups, and comments—in the CosmoNote web-based citizen science platform, which presents the music signal or MIDI data and related acoustic features in information layers that can be toggled on and off. Various annotation strategies are discussed and appraised: intuitive vs. analytical; real-time vs. retrospective; and, audio-based vs. visual. The end-to-end process of the data collection is described, from the providing of prosodic examples to the structuring and formatting of the annotation data for analysis, to techniques for preventing precision errors. The aim is to obtain reliable and coherent annotations that can be applied to theoretical and data-driven models of musical prosody. The outcomes include a growing library of prosodic examples with the goal of achieving an annotation convention for studying musical prosody in performed music.
Original languageEnglish
Article number886570
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2022


  • prosody
  • segmentation
  • prominence
  • annotation
  • representation
  • music performance


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