PromDrum: Exploiting the prosody-gesture link for intuitive, fast and fine-grained prominence annotation

Author(s): Barbara Samlowski and Petra Wagner


Most prominence annotation methods have certain drawbacks. Simple binary scales may be too coarse to capture fine-grained prominence differences, and multi-level annotation schemes have been shown to be time-consuming and difficult to use for non-expert annotators. This study proposes a novel method for fine-grained and fast prominence annotation by exploiting the prosody-gesture link. On a sentence-by-sentence basis, native German participants were instructed to listen to audio recordings and reiterate them by beating on an electronic drum pad either once per syllable (experiment 1) or once per word (experiment 2), modulating the strength of each beat according to how strongly the syllable or word stood out in the sentence. The velocity profiles of MIDI outputs were then interpreted as correlates of perceived prominence and compared with fine-grained prominence ratings by three expert annotators. While word-level drumming showed high correlations to conventional ratings for some of the subjects, inexperienced participants often had considerable difficulty performing the task. Syllable-level drumming, on the other hand, proved to be a time-efficient and intuitive method for experienced and naive subjects alike. Especially by pooling velocity results from several participants to create mean values, it was possible to maintain high levels of correlation with expert prominence ratings.