Analytical approach (V1)
1. Collecting the Video Material
The video material for my case study on Telemann’s Don Quichotte was collected in different kinds of preparatory situations, such as my individual practise ('In Studio'), in rehearsals with various orchestras ('In rehearsal'), and in teaching situations ('Teaching'). Further material was collected in concert performances.
In most of the productions I function as a director (while playing), but in the projects with Concerto Copenhagen I function as a concertmaster, while Lars Ulrik Mortensen directs the orchestra.
2. The amount of the material and the initial coding
In the Telemann study I collected a total 12 hours of video. All of this material was subject to qualitative analysis. I worked initially with open coding (Benaquisto, 2008) by viewing the entire recorded material and coding relevant materials. The coding was initially focussed on gestural qualities in the videos. This coding process helped identify a number of different categories of movements in my performance which were not necessary for the actual sound-producing action, but still immediately connected to it. By relating these coded gestures to musical material in the score, a number of sequences caught my interest in the way in which there appeared to be a connection between the narrative in the music, the musical structure, and my body movement.
3. The feedback circulation between the analysis and practice
My further work involved monitoring my individual practice on these sections. I set myself an experimental task. The design of these experiments was related to how Jane Davidson designed her studies on musical expression, by asking performers to either play a passage with 'deadpan', 'normal', or 'exaggerated' expression (Davidson, 1993). There are other similar studies that investigate in a laboratory setting the link between the amount and volume of body movement and the resulting expressive impact (Wanderley & Vines, 2006). In my individual practise 'In Studio', I employed a similar approach, by either focussing on the sound production or on the expressive body movement. In the latter case, I found that my movements became a vehicle for shaping the music in the score.
What distinguishes my analytical approach from that of Davidson and Wanderley is the dimension of direct inside information that I can extract from my observations and video analysis. I do not depend only on the visual appearance of the body movements as observed on the video. My memory from the action itself allows for acquiring data connected to the kinaesthetic perspectives of the action, the physical effort, resistance, and not least the physical 'sensation' from the production of the sound in comparison with the actual result.
4. Timeline of the Don Quichotte productions and analytical work
My experiments in the studio overlapped with rehearsals with the orchestras, which gave me the opportunity to bring my experiments in the studio into the rehearsal situations. The first set of studio experiments (2 hours of video) followed by the Concerto Copenhagen production took place in December 2010. The production consisted of two days of rehearsals and three concerts, of which one rehearsal day (ca 3 hours) and one concert performance (ca 30 min) are captured on video.
The second occasion of the individual studio analysis and a project with the string orchestra of the Malmö Academy of Music occurred in September 2011. This time the project consisted of four days of rehearsals and three concerts, of which two rehearsals (ca 5 hours) and all of the concerts (ca 1,5 hour) are captured.
5. Analytical procedure and outcomes
The experimentation in the studio and in the rehearsals aimed at a development of movements that could represent the intentional physical actions implied in Telemann’s score, and allow for merging these with the sound producing movements proper. Here, it may be fair to say that the analytical process was drawn into the artistic development of the performance.
The next stage was a comparative analysis in which I put the identified sections from rehearsals and concerts side by side. The continuous comparison of contrasting sequences revealed several dichotomies that I attempted to develop into a coherent argument.
When focusing on the sound, I was neglecting the physical impact of the action implied in the narrative. When focusing on the action (translating the score into expressive body movement) I found that the sound production was impaired. This made me realize that the Soundist and Gesturist approaches could be understood as two opposed strategies in the process of constructing a musical interpretation. As a Soundist, first I make sure I 'sound good', and then enhance the sonic parameters of articulation, dynamics and sound colour towards the representation of the gestural image I want to express. As a Gesturist, I make sure I keep moving and looking good, and then find a way to channel the gestures into the instrument and into the resulting sound.
The continuous comparisons of these two interpretative strategies constitutes the backbone in my analysis. I attempt to represent every significant moment in the score, first by sonic devises (bowings, articulation, accentuation, dynamics, etc.),
Vid. 1 Realization of the implied gesture in the score by sonic devices.
and then, in contrast, by expressive body movements.
Vid. 2 Realization of the implied gestures through expressive body movements.
This was the analytical process from which the final analysis was drawn, as is represented in the video essays on Don Quichotte.
The video essays bring the reader straight into the living action. The accompanying 'text bubbles' in the videos reveal my own thoughts and intentions in the action based on the memories, as well as the actual commentaries, observations, and findings triggered by the analytical process.
While on the one hand the reader is drawn directly into the dynamic action of the concert and rehearsal situations, on the other hand the structure of comparative repetitions in my essays highlights the significance of specific gestural sequences and allows the reader to grasp the arguments 'on the go', as if these emerge out of a musical flow.
This is the final text of Video group 1 'Mimetic Action'.
The next study, Video group 2 'Dance', can be accessed from the Introductory page 'From Gesture to Sound', linked below.