Research

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RESEARCH 

Thanks to the variety of both artistic and pedagogical experiences she gained first-hand, also as a young musician and student, Francesca Canali has developed a real passion for all the main themes related to sound and musical expression and deepened her knowledge of the bodily, mental and emotional aspects involved in musical performance and education.

As every professional musician knows, the sound of the same instrument can have very different characters and acoustical and expressive qualities at the same pitch and dynamics, which in their turn are more or less suitable, as well as appropriate, to different styles and musical aesthetics, different concert hall acoustics and performing circumstances (soloist, big or small chamber music ensemble, orchestral musician, etc.).

The motivation and initial aim of Francesca Canali’s research was to analyse and define these different acoustic and expressive qualities on an objective and scientific basis, focusing her attention on the variables that depend on the person playing, i.e. regardless of the instrument used (brand, type, quality and construction materials).

Her attention focused consequently on the different possible actions of the flutist/instrumentalist while playing, investigating on the one hand the complex anatomical and physiological mechanisms and processes of sound production in the flute and wind instruments and on the other hand the various artistic, expressive and also pedagogical implications of these different processes.

Her central question soon became how different physical and mental processes, and in particular anatomic-physiological settings and attitudes of the larynx/vocal apparatus, influence the quality of sound and subsequently also musical expressiveness as well as the overall quality of a musical performance.

The results of her research demonstrate clearly that the physiological basis of the tone-production in flute-playing must be correlated with the diverse and complex modes of functioning of the entire vocal apparatus as a functional system that includes the larynx, the bodily resonances, and the respiratory system.

On this basis, the whole-body functional connections and the correlations between posture, movement, the way the instrument is held and the quality of resulting sound and musical expressiveness become scientifically clear and new perspectives open up in instrumental didactics and pedagogy. Many aspects of technique and interpretation on flute/wind instruments can be redefined and it becomes possible to find answers and new solutions to some controversial issues in flute and woodwind instrumental technique and to many other problems that might affect a wind instrumentalist in her/his artistic and pedagogical path.

Francesca Canali has therefore studied and then integrated holistic teaching approaches into her teaching method, developing her own innovative teaching methodology that focuses on the whole person in the complexity of the bodily, emotional and mental aspects involved in playing.

Part of the results of her research were published in the doctoral dissertation with which Francesca Canali brilliantly achieved her PhD in music science and pedagogy at the University Mozarteum in Salzburg (2013). She is currently working on the publication of her studies and research and of her method for flute and wind instruments (forthcoming publication).

Spectrogram: acoustic qualities of sound corresponding to three different emission modes – Doctoral dissertation of Francesca Canali, University Mozarteum, Salzburg 2013