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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Scored Movement: Incorporation of Prescribed Movement of Musicians in Musical Scores

  • Author(s): Rosenbaum, Ittai
  • Advisor(s): Jones, David E.
  • et al.

Musicians produce sound from acoustic instruments by means of physical movements: plucking, bowing, beating and other motions that excite acoustic media. Movement is found in music performance also as corporeal expression of emotional engagement in the music and as means of communication between musicians. Yet, in the European concert hall tradition, movement is considered as ancillary to sound production and is rarely addressed directly by composers. I discuss four contemporary works that explicitly ask musicians to incorporate body movements beyond the functional movements necessary for sound production, and bring movement from the background to the foreground. Movement of musicians and their reference to physical space are in these works deliberate, distinct and central to the artistic language.

I discuss the elements that are pertinent to movement (i.e. performers, physical objects and space), and examine the balance between movement and sound, and how they interact in each one of the four works. Finally, I offer my own interpretation of the effect of movement in each work, and the meaning of movement within the compositional logic. A key term I use is a type of artistic gesture that I call "movement-sound gesture" (MSG). MSG is a deliberate, conscious bodily movement, made by musicians in direct association and conjunction with sound production, yet often excessive to that necessary for sound production, and always meant to have an expressive artistic charge.

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