From Gesture to Sound – The Projects
(Introduction, the full text)
The central section of this thesis, encompassing the three main projects, is an inquiry into musical interpretation and performance. It builds on my practice as a professional baroque violinist. The analysis is drawn from video documentation of individual practising, rehearsals and concert performances. Here, the roles of a musical score, of performance practice, instruments, and the human body in musical creativity are explored.
How can musical interpretation be drawn from a musician’s movements? What movements in performance reflect and inform musical structure?
In the video essays below, these and other questions are addressed through the embodied knowledge of musicians in performance. In the initial stages I devise a performance interpretation, carried out alone in the studio, in which I experiment with various body movement strategies in the process of interpretation-finding. Further explorations of these strategies follow, carried out in several teaching, rehearsal, and concert situations.
The division of the projects into three video groups (V1, V2, V3), each with a specific case study, reflects my attempt to distinguish and categorize the different kinaesthetic sources of violinists’ expressive movements.
A ‘Soundist’ vs. ‘Gesturist’ dichotomy, a pervasive methodological tool for analytical procedure in this thesis, is drawn from my artistic practice. I observed in the course of practicing, rehearsing, and performing that in the process of auto corrective feedback I focussed alternatively on either the assessment of the produced sound, or on the body movements producing the sound. Since the focus on sound result implied a concentration on the economy of movements, aiming at an efficient sound production, I called this a ‘Soundist’ approach. In contrast, when I let my body movements lead the way, often inspired by some extra-musical imagery, I called this a ‘Gesturist’ approach.
What do the Soundist and Gesturist concepts entail? Obviously, they are categories that I use in order to discuss aspects of musical performance in which the complexity of the situation transcends both. I apply these concepts in the analysis in various contexts of my projects, and in further detail in the section Theoretical framework below, but in short, this is how I would summarize them:
A Soundist conceives of musical gestures as sound-objects, achieved through organizing sonic properties such as articulation, dynamics, shaping of the sound, etc. The body movement strategy is limited to, and guided by, the sound-production.
A Gesturist attempts to link the musical gestures to the concrete communicative gestures assimilated from delivery of speech, theatrical acting, dance, or even gestures from every-day life.
From Gesture to Sound