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Go To Hell : Towards a Gesture-Based Compositional Practice

  • Stefan Östersjö
Publishing year: 2016-09-02
Language: English
Pages: 475-499
Publication/Series: Contemporary Music Review
Volume: 35
Issue: 4-5
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Routledge

Abstract english

This paper discusses musical gesture from an understanding of musical perception as embodied and enactive, also drawing specifically on Denis Smalley’s [(2007). Space-form and the acousmatic image. Organised Sound, 12(1), 35–58] analysis of performed space. I will provide examples of how choreographies (performed by musicians, with and without their instruments), new music (for Vietnamese and Western instruments), installations, and video art have all been drawn from analysis of gesture in Östersjö’s performance of the guitar composition Toccata Orpheus by Rolf Riehm [1990. Toccata Orpheus. Munich: Ricordi]. In Riehm’s piece, the bodily action of the performer is treated as an intentional compositional parameter and the notated structure thus generates a specific choreography in performance. In Go To Hell, this approach is taken further towards the development of a gesture-based compositional practice, where composition is understood, not as the organisation of sound objects, but as the structuring of gestural-sonic objects [Godøy, R. I. (2006). Gestural-sonorous objects: Embodied extensions of schaeffer’s conceptual apparatus. Organised Sound, 11(2), 149–157; Östersjö, S. (2008). SHUT UP ‘N’ PLAY! Negotiating the musical work (PhD thesis). Lund University, Malmö].


  • Embodied Cognition
  • Musical Gesture
  • Performer’s Analysis
  • Transcription


  • ISSN: 0749-4467
Stefan Östersjö
E-mail: stefan [dot] ostersjo [at] mhm [dot] lu [dot] se

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