Emotional Cantata Form

This piece is an electro acoustic composition, which is based on a pool of pre-recorded choir passages and a set of modular synthesizer patches also with associated pre-recorded audio files. All annotated audio files were annotated by the composer and a database was generated with calculated FSkl across audio files for each of four {MI,¬MI} clusters: (i) {anger, fear}, (ii) {trust, disgust}, (iii) {surprise, anticipation}, and (iv) {joy, sadness}. Then these feature ranks were utilized to bias the composition process. By using the idea of sonata-form and hence using emotionally contrasting musical features to populate each segment of the sonata structure. We call this piece/performance:

Four short cantatas in emotional-sonata-form
anger versus fear;
trust versus disgust;
surprise versus anticipation;
joy versus sadness;

Emotional sonata form is an idea that evolved naturally during the development of our emotional annotation process. Hence, we propose using musical features that highly correlate with specific MIs to bias the musical discourse. We arbitrarily use the sonata form, which commonly uses the following structure per movement:


Here we approach the structure of each movement by using the sonata form as a structural guide for composing a musical discourse. The sonata-form is then populated with themes based on musical features that are ranked as emotion prevalent. Classically, the sonata form uses more traditional variation tools, i.e. dynamics, key modulation, tempo, etc, so as to construct a musical discourse.
In our case, the introduction (i) is ad-lib but exposition (ii) is monothematic. For instance Haydn was well known for monothematic expositions in which only key was used to contrast the same material. In contrast with Haydn, we use the highest-ranking emotional musical feature for one MI to generate a contrasting exposition, hence, exploiting the inherent antagonist pairs in that MI. During development (iii), other highly ranking features for the MI associated to the movement are introduced to develop the main theme. Finally, in recapitulation (iv), a variation on the exposition is revisited to construct a sense of closure.
Figure 1: Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (1980): Robert Plutchik created a new conception of emotions in 1980. He called it the “wheel of emotions” because it demonstrated how different emotions could blend into one another and create new emotions. Plutchik first suggested 8 primary bipolar emotions: joy versus sadness; anger versus fear; trust versus disgust; and surprise versus anticipation. From there Plutchik identified more advanced emotions based on their differences in intensities. If you look at the diagram below you can see how each emotion relates to the other [1].
From a technical stand point, the four cantatas total to a 16 minutes long composition. The piece is conceived for virtual choir over 8 ambisonics channels with concomitant live electronics via 4 surround channels spatially distributed in real-time by the performer within the modular synthesizer.

Our second piece was an earlier application prior to this paper. In this piece each movement was conceptualized by just populating it with features the highly correlated just one Plutchik’s emotion or MI.


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