Corporeality, Actions and Perceptions in Gestural Performance of Digital Music

Jan C. Schacher

In: Proceedings of the Joint International Computer Music and Sound and Music Computing Conference (ICMC-SMC), Athens, Greece, 2014.


What is the relationship between the performer’s body, the instrument, the musical actions and their perception by an audience? And how do they relate when the music is generated by abstract digital processes controlled through actions on technical control surfaces, or gestural, tangible interfaces?  This article investigates these questions by examining elements and concepts from physiology, the cognitive sciences with an `enactive’ and phenomenological perspective and from the point of view of an artistic performance practice, which brings these elements together on stage. In a broad arc the investigation covers instrumental and perceptual affordances, the physical senses of the body, different levels of awareness, corporeal states and modes of awareness, the senses of agency and intentiona\hyp lity, and the sense of movement inherent to music. Based on these insights, the contradiction between the corporeal space of performance and the abstract, codified domain of the digital sound processes is revealed. By looking at the prevalent metaphors, but also the interaction concepts and models of control and their shortcomings, it becomes evi\hyp dent that they need to be refined, possibly based on the perceptual and corporeal criteria developed here.

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