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Gestures and glances: interactions in ensemble rehearsal

Ginsborg, Jane; King, Elaine


Jane Ginsborg


Anthony Gritten


Performers use physical gestures in numerous ways. They can be used to communicate musical expression, generate sound production, facilitate technical movements while playing or singing, regulate temporal aspects of performance, and provide musical and social cues to co-performers and others, including audiences. Sometimes these gestures are produced deliberately, following careful choreography and rehearsal; sometimes they are produced spontaneously during performance, whether consciously or unconsciously, in response to the way the performer feels the music at that moment, wishes to ‘shape' it or perceives the audience's reception of the performance. In the study of Western art and popular music performance, there is increasing emphasis upon the need to understand performers' bodily actions and physical gestures in the generation, execution and reception of music (see Davidson 2005). Various approaches to analysing and interpreting physical gestures have emerged from different perspectives, focusing, for example, on their types, functions, sources and effects. Many studies have already been made of gestures produced during live and recorded performances by solo musicians, including renowned classical, jazz and popular artists, such as Glenn Gould (Delalande 1988), Keith Jarrett (Elsdon 2006), Annie Lennox (Davidson 2001) and Robbie Williams (Davidson 2006), and other soloists, notably pianists (e.g. Clarke & Davidson 1998; Davidson 1993, 1994; King 2006; Windsor et al. 2003), violinists (e.g. Davidson 1993, 1994), clarinettists (e.g. Wanderley & Vines 2006) and singers (e.g. Davidson 2005; Ginsborg 2009). There is a growing body of research on gestures made by ensemble musicians, including classical piano duos (e.g. Keller 2008; Williamon & Davidson 2002), flamenco (Maduell & Wing 2007), jazz and popular groups (Davidson 2005). In this chapter we build on research on physical gestures in classical ensembles by looking at singer-pianist duos, specifically to investigate the ways in which student and professional singers and pianists use gestures and eye contact (‘glances') in rehearsal. Furthermore, we looked at the kinds of gestures used by performers as they rehearsed with familiar and new partners of similar and different levels of expertise (student/professional) so as to ascertain the extent to which gestures and eye contact vary with the performers' experience of performing and the length of time they have worked with a particular duo partner. The idea was to extend the study of physical gesture by looking beyond the ‘single performance' scenario that has dominated so much research hitherto, and consider other factors that might influence the nature of gestures in ensemble practice.


Ginsborg, J., & King, E. (2011). Gestures and glances: interactions in ensemble rehearsal. In A. Gritten, & E. King (Eds.), New perspectives on music and gesture (177-202). Farnham: Ashgate

Online Publication Date Apr 29, 2016
Publication Date Apr 28, 2011
Deposit Date Dec 19, 2014
Journal New perspectives on music and gesture
Publisher Ashgate
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 177-202
Series Title SEMPRE Studies in the Psychology of Music
Book Title New perspectives on music and gesture
Chapter Number 9
ISBN 9780754664628; 9781138248700
Keywords REF 2014 submission
Public URL