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Heuristics for expressive performance

Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel; Prior, Helen


Dorottya Fabian

Renee Timmers

Emery Schubert


This chapter discusses concepts and terms that professional musicians find useful in preparing for and talking and thinking about expressive performance. An example is “shape,” which, as recent research has shown, is immensely flexible and useful for sharing ideas about how to generate expressive performance without having to specify exactly which sounds might be required. The word is used between musical performers with a high level of mutual understanding, as a way of communicating expressive features that are actually very difficult to articulate in more detail. Further examples of heuristics for musical expression are drawn from a recent interview study of professional musicians, and their implications are discussed. It is argued that this kind of terminology, easily dismissed as superficial or vague, is in fact precisely targeted to the nature of the task and is highly effective in use by musicians.

Book Type Book Chapter
Publication Date Jul 3, 2014
Journal Expressiveness in musical performance
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Book Title Expressiveness in musical performance: Empirical approaches across styles and cultures
ISBN 9780199659647
Keywords Heuristics, Expressive performance, Musical expression, Shaping, Tools
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2014 University of Hull


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