Session/Séance 6c: CSTM Panel 2 Exploring Musical Identity Through the Study of Gesture and Corporeality

Session/Séance 6c: CSTM Panel 2. Friday/vendredi 26 May 2017. 3:30 – 5:00 pm, EJB 215.
Exploring Musical Identity Through the Study of Gesture and Corporeality
     Chair: BEVERLEY DIAMOND (Memorial University of Newfoundland)


1. Similarities and Specificities in Percussion Performance: A Comparison of African and Western Percussionists Using 2D, 3D Motion Capture and Eye-Tracking Methods
     Fabrice Marandola, McGill University

Based on a comparative study of xylophonists and drummers from Cameroon (Bedzan Pygmies, Tikar and Eton) on one side, and from Canada and France on the other side, my paper examines 1) to which extent African and Western percussionists share similar performing techniques, 2) how the morphology of the instrument, the musical language, and the cultural context play a role in shaping those techniques, and 3) how every performer develops a singular voice within the boundaries of his/her cultural practice. The methodology involved several sets of data (2D, 3D motion-capture, eye-tracking) collected in laboratory conditions and in the field (Cameroon: 8 music ensembles in 2 distinct areas). The combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches helped to identify similarities and dissimilarities of stroke- and gaze- patterns within and across different geo-cultural areas, and what strategies performers adopt to distinguish themselves from their peers within the boundaries of their own cultural groups.


2. Defining Cultural Boundaries Through Harp Performance:
Comparison of Musical Practices Related to bwiti Cult in Three Gabonese Populations
     Marie-France Mifune, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle

The bwiti cult is practiced by several populations in Gabon. This cult has been transformed during its circulation among the Tsogho, Masango and Fang populations. We also observe variations of the cult among communities within each population. The eight-string harp ngoma, a fundamental component of the bwiti cult, is common among the different bwiti communities and populations. The previously studied variations are related to the shape and decoration of the harp, its repertoire and associated meanings. What about the instrumental gestures? The methodology is based on 2D and/or 3D motion data to identify similarities and dissimilarities of the musician’s posture and the kinematic of his hands and fingers. We studied and compared the musical gestures of several harpists from different communities to observe how the circulation of the same instrument allows bwiti communities to build a shared identity, while maintaining distinctions within each community.


3. Playing Lutes in Iran and Central Asia: The Embodiment of a Musical Signature
Farrokh Vahabzadeh, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle

This paper approaches the question of musical identity and belonging to a musical tradition in a particular angle: the comparative study of the instrumental playing gestures, combined with the question of the body. Our approach focuses on the study of instrumental gesture and corporeality in the performance of long-necked lutes of Iran and Central Asia in various contexts of production, ranging from laboratory conditions in Europe to field research. Data collection includes interviews with performers, 2D video recordings, and 3D motion captures. According to our analysis, we find a series of common playing techniques but also techniques that belong to a specific tradition and which cannot be found in other neighbouring cultures. Thus, in a broad continuum which includes various musical traditions in contact, some techniques are “distinctive features” which allows us to distinguish between different traditions. However, each musician develops his own technique to create his own “signature”.



Friday Schedule | Programme - vendredi
(Session 6 | Séance 6)

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