Globalization is an explicit threat to intangible cultural heritage. Preservation of the traditional dance and music of a variety of cultures and ethnic groups is a subject of many studies and projects of scholars in different disciplines. In the current project, we focus on the same theme by applying a combination of new technology and creative ideas. Our compound method applies choreographic computer game technologies to the elements of intangible cultural heritage, informed by a careful consideration of intrinsic elements of the culture. Using a tool that transforms body movement to musical sound, spatial dance data can create melodic and rhythmic patterns based on structural elements of Azeri music such as 6/8 meter and two-core phrases. The data was sonified by a combination of rotation data across 360 degrees with pitches and cutoff sounds. Each pitch was assigned a region of a circular protractor according to the range and density of the data captured, and the rotation degree of three body parts was mapped into the nearest pitch. The patterns are generated in real time, and the composed music is audible when the game is run. They have a motivic structure and a set of rules that are applied to compose varied but cohesive music, informed by traditional musical stylistic features. The gamified prototype assists the heritage transmission to descendants via a 3D game environment that challenges the players for good performance, appraises their results, and motivates them in learning a folk dance. It also facilitates the players’ familiarization with the cultural forms by generating patterns in rhythmic coordination with the performance. This approach can be applicable to other cultures using their dance data and cultural elements. It also has the potential to be adapted for various apparatuses for game-based learning and knowledge transmission regarding intangible cultural heritage.
Creation of Melodic and Rhythmic Patterns Based on Cultural Heritage: Sonification of Azerbaijani Dance Movements
Afsaneh Yadaei is a researcher in the game field. She earned her MA in computer games production and B.Sc. in IT engineering. Since 2017 her research and publications focus on game and interdisciplinary studies in the fields of intangible cultural heritage, music and dance, human-computer interaction, e-learning, and entertainment. She is currently a member of the Interdisciplinary Iranian Music Lab at Tehran Art University.
Mohammad Reza Azadehfar is a full professor in ethnomusicology at Tehran Art University and ex-dean of Music Faculty there. He earned his PhD from University of Sheffield followed by a post-doctorate at SOAS University of London. He also spent some twenty years as an Iranian santur performer. His research and publications focus on Iranian music and interdisciplinary studies. He has received five research grants from University of London, University of Arts, and Iran National Science Foundation. Azadehfar’s book Melodic Structure in Iranian Music won the biannual prize for best Iranian music study at the Iranian National Music House in 2019.
Afsaneh Yadaei, Mohammad Reza Azadehfar, Behnam Alizadehashrafi; Creation of Melodic and Rhythmic Patterns Based on Cultural Heritage: Sonification of Azerbaijani Dance Movements. Journal of Sound and Music in Games 1 July 2022; 3 (2-3): 1–27. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jsmg.2022.3.2-3.1
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