Measuring Aksak Rhythm and Synchronization in Transylvanian Village Music by Using Motion Capture


  • Filippo Bonini-Baraldi Ethnomusicology Institute (INET-MD), FCSH, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa
  • Emmanuel Bigand CNRS - Universit
  • Thierry Pozzo INSERM-U1093, Cognition-Action-Plasticit



Ethnomusicology, gesture, motion capture, aksak, synchronization


Techniques based on motion capture can be useful in analyzing a wide range of musical styles and practices: in this case, Transylvanian village music. We focused on a repertoire known as “Gypsy songs of sorrow”, played by professional Gypsy musicians during parties and celebrations of their own community. Two parameters were the object of study: rhythmic duration, and synchronization between musicians (a violinist and a viola player). Results show that rhythm is a local variant of aksak and is based on two duration units (S=short, L=long) which respect the formula 2:3 < S:L < 3:4. Performances are characterized by large variations of the S:L ratio from period to period, which have an expressive function. Tracking the bow’s movements with motion capture techniques allowed to show that these variations are related to a swinging interpretation, which also involves a voluntary asynchrony between the two musicians.

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