AUTHORS: Thaís Fernandes Santos; Cristina Capparelli Gerling

ABSTRACT: Studies in psycholinguistics (Goldin-Meadow, 2005; McNeill, 2005) point out to the close relationship between spoken discourse and the physical gestures engaged by the talker as well as the indelible association of these two elements throughout the acts of communication. For instance, talking involves sounds as much as movements, very often hand gestures as an inherent component of communication and expression in the discourse.

As far as music is concerned, studies point out to the parallel relationship between physical movements and the expressive intentions performers wish to communicate (Massie-laberge, Cossette, & Wanderley, 2016; Santos, 2017; M. Wanderley, 2002; M. M. Wanderley, Vines, Middleton, McKay, & Hatch, 2005). From this point of view, we understand the physical actions as 1) the gestures required to produce sounds in the instrument – instrumental gestures and also 2) movements that do not directly make the sounds but do coexist during the performance – ancillary gestures (Miranda & Wanderley, 2006). The relationship between the ancillary motions and interpretative decisions leads us to hypothesize that musicians express their understanding of the musical structure not only as sound but also as motion.

We aim to investigate whether musicians are conscious of their communicative process in both aspects: sound and movement. Additionally, this paper studies the recognition of self through hearing and visual perception.

We observed four professional flutists playing four times the same 5 measure long musical excerpt extracted from the second movement of Wind Quartet No. 2, in G Major by Gioachino Rossini. The experiment involved collecting movement data in three dimensions, capturing points on the flutists’ bodies and instruments. Following the cinematic and acoustic analysis, we interviewed the participants and applied hearing tests. Uninformed of which player was performing each segment, the participants randomly heard all 16 takes and wrote down observations on the musical phrases’ interpretation. Likewise, the participants watched movement trajectory videos – moving dots – to see if they could recognize their own sets of individual movements.

Results showed that each participant identified his/her musical phrases reaching a score of 96% correct answers for recognizing individual sound interpretations of the excerpt. Contrarily, when watching the movement trajectory videos, the participants had a much lower recognition rate of their own movements. Each one argued that the resulting gestures were not deliberate; in other words, flutists experienced difficulties to recognize the gestures they´ve unconsciously adopted while playing.

This study concluded a close approximation between the communicative aspects of instrumental music and spoken human communication in general, thus leading us to propose that musicians are conscious of the sound production aspects but tend to lack awareness of the ancillary gestures.

PUBLICATION TYPE: Conference Paper – 16th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition / 11th  European Society for the Cognitive Science of Music. 2021

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