Embodying the scale figure as a 'throwing gesture'




Ex. 1 The scale figure, bar 2 in Telemann’s Don Quichotte, ‘Sanche Panse berné’, (Telemann 17??).


Telemann’s picturesque graphical image in the notation of Sancho being thrown up in the air will certainly also become apparent in a straightforward sonic realization. The throwing action is represented by the five-note upward scale figure, followed by Sancho crashing down in a whole octave leap. [1]



Ex. 2 The scale figure with implied gestures.


Apart from traditional bowing and articulation markings, I use arrows to annotate the energy, direction, or volume of implied gestures. A Soundist will read such an annotation as a sonic feature and realize it through the dynamics and articulation. A Gesturist will translate the implied energy and direction of the arrows into body movements.

An energetic up-bow decisively lifting off the string on the top notes evokes a flight, followed by a harsh 'landing' back on the string in a down-bow. A violinist will be likely to mark the bowing like this:


Ex. 3 & Aud. 1 Bowing patterns applied in the scale figure.


The question of proper bowing is an important factor in historical performance practice, based on accentuation in speech or dance structure (Boyden, 1990, Tarling, 2000). As the Telemann belongs to the late Baroque period, I apply bowings according to the violin schools from the same period (Mozart, 1750, Geminiani, 1751).

This efficient bowing, which secures a good sound, can be enhanced by sonic properties such as dynamics, articulation, accentuation, and shaping of the sound, in order to emphasise the sonic representation of the throwing gesture. A crescendo throughout the up-bow, an energetic staccato accent on the top note, and a heavy accent on the down-bow octave-leap will be pencilled by the performer as a reminder of a dynamic strategy:


Ex. 4 & Aud. 2 The dynamics in the scale figure enhance the sonic imagery of the throwing gesture.


To make the sonic representation of the throwing gesture even more effective, one could intensify or simply exaggerate the sound-producing movements. The right arm gets 'a good grip on Sancho' at the start of the up-bow, increases the bow speed on the scale, jolts with a fast movement upward on the accented top note, and crashes down on the lower octave (see ex. 5):


Ex. 5 Illustration of a bow action with extended sound producing movements in order to imbue the resulting sound with dramatic energy.


Vid. 1 The throwing gesture executed with a focus on sonic features. The sound producing movements are extended to enhance the energetic articulation of the scale figure.


In my understanding, such an approach may take place within the 'Soundist' domain. The intensified and extended sound-producing movements are directed towards a sonic representation of the throwing action.

In the following section I will propose what I call a 'Gesturist' strategy, where the body movements are assimilating a real “throwing” action, rather than just producing a sound that represents throwing.

My Gesturist approach entails experimentation with the role of body movement in the imitation of the actual gesture of throwing-in-the-air. Here, I explore not only the sound-producing movements themselves, but also the physical action of lifting or throwing. This means that the bow hand action of throwing Sancho up in the air is put in the context of the body-floor relationship (Pierce, 2007). It is the upward lift of the body that causes the bow hand to fly off the string, and that initial motion will also determine the height and length of the flight. In example 6 the arrows indicate the bowing action in a manner which can simultaneously represent the body movement of a throwing action:


Ex. 6 A Gesturist will employ expressive body movements. The arrows now describe the energetic trajectory of body movements.


Vid. 2 The scale figure is here translated into bodily gestures, resulting in an energetic throwing gesture.






Back to video essay V1a






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