Bodies in musical performance: a gestural approach

Haize Lizarazu

University of Girona, Spain


It has been clear in recent years that the understanding and study of music-making needed to change the traditional musicological focus on the notated score. Other scenic disciplines, such as theater or performance, have made the performative turn some decades ago and have developed some extensive studies on the performing body as a core concept of the creative process.

Music-making is an art of sound and movement. One cannot separate the moving body of a performer from the resulting sound. All these movements are embodied gestures that the performer enacts on stage and that are linked to their own experience and knowledge. To accept this embodied approach in music research, is to acknowledge a significant change of paradigm, as it shifts the focus of the notated score to a more complex experience of a continuous sound-movement relation with the performing body.

Musical gestures and movements can be seen and felt from different perspectives: as a self and as an other (first person, third person). This then leads us to talk about the gestures that can be seen and the ones that can only be felt. The pre-gesture, the inner movement, the previous moment to the sound materialization is the key concept that will be developed in this paper, shown as an important term linked to music cognition and embodied musical knowledge.

Keywords: Musical gestures, Musical performance, Embodiment


Pianist, performer and improviser focused on contemporary and experimental music. Her career has many different ways and interests: musical creation through performance, free improvisation, artistic research or interdisciplinary collaborations. She is member and co-director of Container Ensemble and has also been developing some scenic-performance works such as KEY CLICK- a [no] piano concert, performed in countries such as Switzerland, Spain, Brazil and Germany, or MANUAL-Hands as Instruments.

She has performed in many festivals and venues: Lauenburg Kunstlerhaus (Germany), Gare du Nord, Klang Basel (Basel, Switzerland), Basel Stadt Casino o Bern Dampfzentrale, WIM Zürich, EMA Festival (Madrid), FIME Festival (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Festival Cervantino (Mexico), Generate Festival (Germany), Festival Vang (Madrid), Festival Mixtur (Barcelona), Festival Ensems (Valencia), Cafe OTO (London), MACBA-Sonar+D (Barcelona), among others.