THIS issue of Empirical Musicology Review features three target papers that investigate empirical questions with reference to specific periods in Western art music. All three articles demonstrate in their own way how issues that relate to the description of musical history can be addressed through empirical approaches such as the study of carefully selected corpora of musical compositions or recordings. Hence, empirical research can here contribute to writing music history.
In her contribution, Jane Harrison merges sociological perspectives with an empirical corpus study of composers from early-twentieth century France. She is asking whether the affiliation with the so-called "Apache" group of composers is associated with a specific compositional device, namely the use of meter changes. Part of her study is a diligent comparison of a selected comparison sample of composers from the same historic period but without affiliation with the Apache group. As necessary with comparative studies of this kind Harrison takes great care to discuss the selection criteria for both samples and their impact on the comparison results. In the corresponding commentary, Samantha Burgess suggests that Harrison's study of notated meter changes would be very much enriched by perceptual data that might indicate to what extent differences and changes in notated meter might also contribute to differences in listener perceptions.
The target paper on historical trends in expressive timing of recorded performances by Michael Rector shows that, in performances of Chopin's Op.25, no.1, pianists tend to lengthen the fourth beat at the expense of the second and third beats, as well as an increase in the phrase-final lengthening, and a use of tempo arching, among other characteristics. In their target paper, Finn Upham and Julie Cumming focus on Renaissance mass, demonstrating how the application of principles of auditory streaming indicate a robust hierarchy of compositional complexity across different movements. Accompanying commentaries for both of these target papers will appear in a subsequent issue, and we are open to additional commentary submissions from researchers working in these fields.
In addition to these articles, the section of target papers also includes the second part of an interview with David Huron explaining his vision of empirical musicology as well as an exciting description of Isaac Newton's approach to just intonation. Daniel Muzzulini explains Newton's detailed sketches for a treatise of harmony that he was never able to complete and takes the central idea of microtonal approximation further by calculation other possible approximation with the help of the computer. Commentator Thomas Noll shares Muzzulini's excitement for Newton's approach to just intonation and harmony. Noll is able to take these ideas further and compute graphical representations to illustrate the approach.
Finally, the commentary section of this issue also includes a contribution by Yke Schotanus responding to the commentary by Lee on Schotanus' original target paper (both published in EMR, Vol. 15, 1-2). Inspired by Lee's suggestions Schotanus presents re-analyses of the data from his original target paper that actually strengthen some of the conclusions regarding the effects of musical features and lyrics on listener evaluations.