In the beginning of the 21st century, gesture became a significant means of interaction with technology for the general public, and also within the musician community. While musical writing has put a strong emphasis on deconstructing and reshaping the acting body of the musician-performer for nearly 50 years, it is interesting to note that for the past 10 years there has been a strong multidisciplinary convergence on this research/creation topic, drawing the attention of composers, performers, and computer scientists as well as the domains of engineering, psychology, physiology, biomechanics, and cognitive sciences. This concept of gesture, commonly used in numerous domains, notably in the performing arts such as theater and dance, has only been the subject of embryonic research in the domain of musicology.
The GEMME project offers an analysis of theoretical texts and musical works, and also carries out investigations before and after the premiere of a score: what theoretical and technical possibilities of the formalization of gestures are available to composers? What gestural procedures can they test on paper and during the performance of a work? What means of transmission of the gestural information are created not only during the collaboration between composer and performer, but also when the performance of the work is taught? This project endeavors to answer these questions via four main themes:
1. Tacit Theories of Gesture: genealogy of the compositional notion of gesture, its categorizations and periodization, the current state of the art
2. Gesture and Stage: study of a paradigmatic method—that of kagel—where the musical idea is connected to its staged expression in the framework of musical and instrumental theater
3.Gesture and Instrument: study of a contrasting paradigmatic method—that of Lachenmann—where the composition calls upon a breakdown of the organological possibilities of sound production in relationship with a political and social criticism of expressive conventions
4.Gesture and Technology: a series of musical analyses of a group of seminal scores, from Ferneyhough’s Time and Motion Study II to Luna Park by Aperghis, that offer a variety of technical and computing paradigms that formalize and/or accompany the instrumental gesture.
Project reference : ANR-12-BSH3-0007.