Manual Musical Performance: A Comprehensive Approach: Theory, Analytical Tools, and Case Studies

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It can certainly be argued that by mediating the archive materials in this way and placing these specific documents, or documentations together they are forced to create a collection, and this is arguably one of the drawbacks of archives. It might be argued that many of these collection items bear connections to other materials not included in this archive, which would provide key context for understanding them on different terms, such as placing them within a specific compositional or performative milieu.

By prioritizing their existence within a locational and geographic framework, WANMA certainly draws attention to their contribution to a specific community of practice. Whether this is problematic is arguably up to the artist or individual whose work is represented, and to the users, who also have the opportunity to contribute to the portal. However, we are concerned in this instance with the ways that musical performance responds to and situates itself within notions of originality.

In addition we also seek to investigate how various performative modes can respond to various hierarchies of aesthetic and structural choices, which often inform improvisation. Improvisation and repertoire are both inherently connected to the practice of new music. To clarify, repertoire usually refers to a set of fixed compositions that a performer or ensemble are able or prepared to perform, but in this instance I use it to refer to a number of composed works created or performed in Western Australia, or by Western Australians, many of which are included in WANMA, and many more that it is hoped will be added.

It would be misguided to suggest that scored music and improvisation are somehow oppositional forces, or that they exist on polar ends of an axis of musical performance. It incorporates many of the structural components that impact upon the performance of composed pieces of music, such as pitch, tempo, texture, dynamic and gesture. Kenny and Gellrich propose three integrated models for how improvisation takes place. These are generative mechanisms, mental processes and learning processes. Improvisation therefore pursues notions of originality — positing that a performer is forced to confront the reality of a moment in order to produce something that, depending on how it is received by the audience, may be authentic or not, or may exist on an axis of authenticity.

Improvisation carries with it the notion that a musical experience created in the moment cuts through to the concept of originality and authenticity as pure or unmediated far more than something that has been structured or written in a more traditional, premeditated fashion. This posits improvisation as a sort of game where both audience and performer are continually searching for a moment or moments of truth — moments that cut through both performative and musical discourse to offer up transcendence, or which summon the sublime. It might be argued that in this game they are playing both together and individually, and that the rules and rewards for each can differ significantly.

Oppositional perspectives to improvisation, which are certainly to be found within western art music practice, but are often more readily embraced outside of new music, suggest that improvisation might be considered an exercise in futility. Of course the subjective experience of these moments, let alone of an entire performance is still always going to lead to multiple subjective readings of an improvised piece of music, just as differing interpretations of various compositional structures and techniques can and has been debated by musicologists.

Nonetheless, it might be argued that whilst improvisation seeks the sublime, perhaps some audiences may find it in those moments that more closely recall others that they have already experienced. These moments that have an aesthetic or structural precedent for the audience and therefore work in opposition of the central premise of new music, which is the pursuit of that which has been previously unimagined, and which breaks with the established language of musical expression.

Of course the same quandary can be directed towards repertoire works as well, which perhaps points to one of the ways in which these approaches are so interconnected. Some of the works discussed later arguably fit into this categorisation, which borrows from both improvised and structured musical modes. Although Dudas uses the term to refer to works that include elements of electronic programming or pre-recorded playback, it is arguably broad-ranging enough to include any work that straddles the line between improvisation and composition. These encompass as wide a range of stylistic approaches to musical performance as are included in the broad definition of new music, including everything from chamber music and traditional western art music through jazz and non-western influenced musics, as well as experimental forms of rock and electronic music, noise.

The specific performances collected within the archive often relate to the nature of the piece being performed, and also to the nature and circumstances of the performance itself. Which is the definitive performance of a work? Does there have to be one? These are the kinds of questions that are regularly asked of western art music, and they are questions that are at the core of the WANMA project.


This is a highly structured piece of chamber music in the form of a tango for percussionist and four cellists, with individual parts written for each of the musicians. However, the performance of the piece varies considerably between each of these recordings, which take place in different locations and circumstances. Some of these circumstances include performances for predominantly adult audiences at formal events presenting the music as a programmed recital, for audiences comprised almost exclusively of school children at schools and with an educational focus, and for audiences including both demographics, performed as semi-formal free public performances for the members of specific indigenous communities.

For example, the piece is performed for predominantly adult audiences at two performances in Broome. He tells the tale of a man who is killed by a strangulating python that he has captured and is showing off to his village somewhere in South America — a story he came across when viewing the Darwin Awards website [17] , which details with humour the misfortunes of those who have died through acts of stupidity.

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The ensemble then perform the piece as written, and all of the musical performances, aside from a few subtle differences, are performed identically to one another, in the same tempo, with the same affect and tonal qualities. However, during a performance to school children at the One Arm Point Remote Community School, Grandage instead provides a simplified introduction to the piece, eschewing his mention of the Darwin Awards, presumably for the benefit of his young audience, and instead narrates over sections of the piece throughout, explaining the actions in the story taking place at key points in the piece as they are performed by the ensemble.

In this instance the specific performance being depicted provides an additional layer of exposition, with the narrative to which the work relates being elucidated over the musical performance for the benefit of a specific audience — a detail which is arguably considered extraneous and unnecessary for an adult audience, but which provides a further conceptual hook for audiences of school-aged children.

In this instance the improvisation in question is still performative — and relevant to the structure of the performance, even if it is not musical in nature. This case provides an example of how improvisation often works in service of these questions.

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Lindsay Vickery is another Western Australian composer from a similar era to Grandage, and is well represented within the archive. He has been composing new music works since the s, and dozens of audio and video performances of his pieces are accessible via the WANMA web portal. The melodic cycle provides a platform from which players are able to exit and re-enter, using a different tempo each time. Obviously, the musicians make choices that are dependent on the specific performative circumstances that they find themselves in at a particular moment, and during a particular performance.

(PDF) Chain of Decisions in Musical Performance | Mauricio A. Pitich -

Each performance is likely to involve different choices and interactions with the scored material. This shifts and locates the final form of each performance within its own context, and of course leaves the actuality of the piece as a constantly moving entity with its own life outside of, but also because of the score.

Graphic scores are an area of musical notation that the ensemble Decibel, to which Vickery is a founding member, have explored significantly, having commissioned numerous graphic scores and developed a graphic score reader as an application for tablet computers, the Decibel ScorePlayer. Defined as the representation of music through the use of visual symbols outside the what would normally be expected in traditional Western Art music notation [20] , graphic sores can present a range of freedoms for performers not usually afforded by more common practice notations.

Many graphic scores can be interpreted differently by each individual performer, it as well as variations being possible in each successive performance of the piece by the same performer. Graphic scores offer a large range of possibile interpretations, from very free to quite controlled. The important difference between them and improvisation is that the composer, distinct from the performer, has some degree of conception in the work.

Graphic notations offer up a much wider range of choices for the performer that traditional notations, which often — but not always — include elements of improvisation, or some degree of choice. While the instrumentation and duration of the work is fixed, and some pitches are provided as a guide, many other elements, such as texture, attack and dynamics, are free. In this instance the score exists as a representation or depiction of an idealised performance, and successive performances aim not necessarily to replicate it, but to use the score as a conduit for commenting upon or interpreting the original, albeit by performers who may not necessarily be aware of it.

It comprises four distinct movements with no designated length for each, and the instrumentation, approach to instrumentation, length of each movement and length of the piece itself are all open within the structure of the piece, and for each performance. Each of these pieces enables a performance with a range of choices for the performers, creating ephemeral qualities, but the nature and extent of that ephemerality is different for each. The limits of a piece are bound to the moment in which it is being performed. Nonetheless, these pieces could be considered repertory works, which exist with their own codified language of temporality and tangibility.

Their existence within this archive creates the possibility for particular versions to become definitive or more relevant than other versions outside the archive, but also offers the opportunity for this to shift and change. Importantly, their inclusion within the archive mediates their status as works of repertoire. Unlike the Grandage example earlier, the different versions do not refer back the score as a definitive version. Each performance is in itself a definitive version, and the scores enable and indeed encourage this view.

The different versions are a direct result and intention of the method of scoring, and as such, the recordings have radically different relationships to that score. The WANMA project has included the curation of a performance series aimed at both adding new material to the archive, as well as activating spaces in the State Library of Western Australia building bringing performance into the library. The relationships of creating, archiving, performing and experiencing are interrogated and reshaped, creating new content for the archive. If musicologists are not asked to perform why are performers required to write?

These can offer different and important perspectives and I am always curious to read them. Psychologists speak of demand characteristics and attribution as essential problems that may arise in such contexts.

Research methods content analysis and case studies

The music experience is the thing that needs explaining, rather than being that explanation. Most of what goes on in the causal process might, in fact, not be consciously available. Show me a novelist, a painter, an architect, a cook, who has not, like God, been surprised, overcome, ravished by what she was—what they were—no longer doing. As introduced in chapter one, the typical inadequacy of words including metaphors for the particulars of bodily, somatic, kinaesthetic, aural and psychological experience or action is the biggest obstacle in researching music, especially performance.

A good example comes from a recent DVD where the eminently articulate and inquisitive Pieter Wispelwey is struggling to explain the difference between the sounds of his two different baroque cellos.

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  • What this episode makes blatantly clear, however, is the phenomenon that what is in the mind arms, fingers, ears, whole body of a performer may not always be audible for the outside listener. It leads us to look for what we can measure and make us think we explained what is not yet measurable. Such an approach fosters categorization, ossification, homogenization and normative thinking.

    Musical Performance.. A Comprehensive Approach.. Theory, Analytical Tools, and C

    Echoic memory is an auditory sensory memory that persists for several seconds, after which it is lost unless attended to. It permits us to maintain a temporal window wide enough to recognize a dynamic sound or parse a phrase. Whereas sight situates the observer outside what he views, at a distance, sound pours into the hearer.

    When I hear, however, I gather sound simultaneously from every direction at once: I am at the centre of my auditory world, which envelops me, establishing me at a kind of core of sensation and existence. Interiority and harmony are characteristics of human consciousness.