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Gesture In Contemporary Music On The Edge Between Sound Materiality And Signification

Edson Zanpronha Professor of Musical Composition at Arts Institute So PauloStateUniversity (UNESP

Abstract In this paper I approach a variety of topics related to musical !esture in contemporary music" I e#plain ho$ !esture can %e understood in contemporary music" I sho$ that sound materiality and si!nification are very closely related and that !esture is on the ed!e %et$een them& that !estures can %e re!arded as a natural !round to 'ustify compositional options& that si!nifications can %e introduced %y !estures into the composition( and that to deconstruct stereotyped sym%olic !estures is to %rin! them closer to sound materiality" I analy)e transcultural si!nifications in !esture and the reduction of si!nification to !esture" I comment on !esture in performance in the particular case of electroacoustic music( and I conclude %y commentin! on !esture and the poetic conception of the contemporary music as a resource to concentrate listenin! in one of its central plots" esumen Este te#to presenta varios temas relacionados con el !esto musical en la m*sica contempor+nea" E#plica c,mo se puede entender el !esto en la m*sica contempor+nea" Muestra c,mo la materialidad del sonido y su si!nificaci,n est+n estrechamente relacionados y c,mo el !esto est+ en el l-mite entre ellos& .ue los !estos musicales pueden ser considerados como una %ase de la naturale)a para 'ustificar las opciones composicionales& .ue la si!nificaci,n puede ser insertada a trav/s del !esto en la composici,n( y .ue la de0construcci,n de los !estos sim%,licos estereotipados apro#ima el !esto musical a la materialidad sonora" Se anali)an las si!nificaciones interculturales en el !esto musical y la reducci,n del si!nificado al !esto en s- mismo" Se ha%la so%re el !esto en la e'ecuci,n musical en la m*sica electroac*stica( y se concluye ha%lando del !esto en la concepci,n po/tica de la m*sica contempor+nea como un recurso para concentrar la escucha en una de sus tramas centrales"

In the 12345s sound se!mentation in parameters $as a common procedure to different compositional trends" It $as thou!ht that parameters 6ept their features unchan!ed re!ardless of the $ay they $ere com%ined" 7o$ever( particularly after 1284 it has %een reco!ni)ed that parameters do not have such independence" 9he $ays they are com%ined affect the $ay they are listened" 9hus( a search for other alternatives for musical composition has started out" In this paper I analy)e one of these alternatives: !esture" ;irst( I sho$ that the relationship in music %et$een sound materiality and si!nification is very close( and that !esture is on the ed!e %et$een these t$o domains" 9hen I sho$ that due to the contact !esture has $ith sound materiality( it can %e interpreted as a natural !round to 'ustify

certain compositional options( ac.uirin! a status similar to the harmonic series for tonal music" <ue to the contact it has $ith si!nification( !esture can %rin! and introduce si!nifications into the composition that are previous to the $or6" After that I sho$ that !esture can accomplish different 6inds of representations( and that the deconstruction of stereotyped !esture re0appro#imates it to sound materiality" 9$o considerations follo$" =n the one hand I sho$ that hyper0valuation of the contact !esture has $ith si!nification may lead one up to state that !esture has transcultural si!nifications( and I remar6 that it cannot %e entirely verified" =n the other hand I sho$ that hyper0valuation of the contact !esture has $ith sound materiality may lead one up to state that to achieve ne$ musical si!nifications it is enou!h to search for a ne$ sound materiality( and I remar6 that it cannot %e entirely verified either" ;inally t$o other important topics are considered: !esture in performance( $here the particular case of electroacoustic music diffusion in concerts is considered& and the use of !esture to achieve a poetic conception of a $or6" I ar!ue that the use of !esture as a resource for the transformation of that $hich is not musical into musical inside a $or6 propitiates a dialo!ue %et$een the $or6 $ith other $or6s( and concentrates listenin! in one of the central plots for contemporary musical thou!ht"

Antecedents! from combinatory towards gesture


In the 12345s sound se!mentation in parameters $as a procedure that could %e accomplished in different $ays" 9he musical note could %e se!mented in pitch( duration( dynamics( attac6s( re!ister( tim%re( and so on (see( for instance( the illustrative analyses of $or6s %y >arlhein) Stoc6hausen in Maconie 1224& %y ?ohn Ca!e in Pritchett 122@& %y Pierre Aoule) in Padilla 1223( and %y Iannis Bena6is in Bena6is 12C1 " 7o$ever( se!mentation could also %e done at a lo$er level than the musical note" 9im%re( seen as a comple# entity( could %e se!mented in parameters such as fre.uency( time( amplitude( $aveform( !rain and several others" In electroacoustic( music parameters adopted %y different types of sound synthesis are not al$ays coincident" Additive synthesis( for instance( uses sine $aves& !ranular synthesis uses !rain shapes( and synthesis %y physical models uses elastic tensions of materials (for a !eneral vie$ on different types of sound synthesis see Doads 122E and the collection of te#ts in <e Poly( Piccialli and Doads 1221 " Aut notes themselves could %e com%ined to !enerate sound masses that could %e treated as tim%res" 9he $or6 Atmosphres( composed in 12F1 %y GyHr!y Ii!eti( is an e#ample" Iater cases are found in spectral music( as in $or6s %y 9ristan Murrail and G/rard Grisey amon! others (a discussion on this theme can %e follo$ed in AarriJre 1221 " Unli6e electroacoustic music( in this case se!mentation happens at a hi!her level if compared to the musical note: notes themselves are treated as parameters that inte!rate a synthesis accomplished $ith musical instruments for the construction of sound masses( spectra and morpholo!ies" A fundamental assumption in the 12345s( important for $hat follo$s( is that parameters 6ept their properties re!ardless of ho$ they $ere com%ined" 9his assumption disre!ards( for instance( that tim%re chan!es accordin! to the dynamics in $hich it is played( that the $ay a sound is attac6ed interferes in the perception of its duration( that the perception of pitch intervals chan!es accordin! to the octave in $hich they are played" 9he assumption that the $ay a parameter %ehaves is independent from its relation to other parameters allo$ed composers to com%ine them in different $ays as if they $ere essentially autonomous" ;or instance( in the te#t KLventuellementMN( a $ell

6no$n presentation a%out serial composition %y Aoule) (1223: 1@C01F8 ( the startin! point is the series =livier Messiaen uses in his $or6 Mode de valeurs et dintensits( composed in 1234" 9his series and some of the compositional procedures mentioned in this te#t $ere used %y Aoule) for the composition of his $or6 Structures pour deux pianos O first %oo6" ;irst the series is transformed in num%ers and displayed in t$o ta%les" =ne ta%le presents the ori!inal and its retro!rade form" 9he other one presents its inverted and its retro!rade inverted form"

"ig# $ % 9he series of pitches in the $or6 Structures pour deux pianos %y Aoule)" 9he notes are transformed in num%ers from 1 to 1P" After that Aoule) applies this series to durations" 9he num%erin! o%tained for the series of pitches has to %e the same used for the series of durations" 9he 6eyhere is that a sin!le series is used to control different parameters in a composition" =ther$ise( it $ould not %e possi%le to o%tain the desired !eneral unity and coherence" 9he series of durations used %y Aoule) is the follo$in!:

"ig# & % 9he series of num%ers is transformed in a series of durations( %ein! 1 e.uals one @Pnd note( P e.uals t$o @Pnd notes (i"e"( a 1Fth note ( and so on" It is very interestin! to o%serve that in the first steps of the method there is a considera%le misunderstandin!: the series of pitches does not match $ith the series of durations" Qhile the series of pitches follo$s an order !iven to %y the series %y Messiaen( the series of durations follo$s a chromatic order" 9he relationship the series esta%lishes $ith pitches is not the same as the one it esta%lishes $ith durations" 9he proportions of durations are different from the proportions of pitches( $hich means that the t$o series in fact %ecome different( $hich is clearly a contradiction re!ardin! the serial method and its assumptions to !enerali)e series to different parameters" A series of durations that follo$s the proportion found in the series of pitches $ould( for instance( %e as follo$s:

"ig# ' O 9he series of durations accordin! to the proportions found in the series of pitches" It comes as a surprise that this point had not %een noticed %y Aoule) either in his te#t or in his composition( since this mista6e 'eopardi)es the serial method as proposed %y him" In 123E( less than t$o years after Aoule)Rs te#t( revisions on the serial method appeared in $or6s as Liebeslied( %y Iui!i Nono" Seemin!ly conscious of inconsistent points as that one( some modifications Nono considers considered %y Nono in the serial method he uses to compose this $or6 point to less automatic procedures( ma6in! room to more musical results" 9he assumption that parameters are independent from one another does not e#ist only in serial music" It can %e found in several $or6s %y different composers %elon!in! to different compositional trends in this period" Music of Changes( %y ?ohn Ca!e( for instance( also uses a ta%le of pitches( a ta%le of durations and a ta%le of dynamics( and is fully %ased on a com%ination of different parameters for the production of sound events" In this $or6( ho$ever( Ca!e does not use sin!le notes( sin!le durations and sin!le dynamics in his ta%les" Instead( most of the time he uses sets of pitches( sets of durations O also includin! silence O and chan!es of dynamics as crescendo or diminuendo" Moreover( and in a very different $ay re!ardin! serial music( $hat controls the com%ination of parameters is the I Chin! and its toss of coins (Pritchett 122@: C8088 " Another e#ample that can %e ta6en into consideration is the stochastic music %y Iannis Bena6is" 7is $or6 Metastasis( composed in 123@0E( is one of the main e#amples of stochastic music" In this $or6 he esta%lishes an analo!y %et$een notes and molecules of a !as (Bena6is 12CF " 9his analo!y illustrates clearly ho$ Bena6is conceives parameters and notes themselves as if they $ere independent from one another( %ein! suscepti%le to several com%inations for the !eneration of sound masses" 7o$ever( the analo!y %et$een notes and molecules is not really pertinent" Notes are a%stractions %uilt from sound phenomena" As such( they are closer to sound $aves than to solid particles( such as molecules" If considered as $aves( the independence assumed %y Bena6is is not o%served( since a $ave may reinforce or cancel its amplitude $hen in contact $ith another $ave( it may lose its individuality $hen mer!in! $ith another one in cases $hen they %lend into a ne$ tim%re( or it may allo$ a third sound to emer!e $hen esta%lishin! specific relationships $ith other $aves" Nothin! li6e that happens to particles" In the 12345s( the assumption that parameters are essentially independent from one another is connected $ith another assumption: that parameters have to %e (or should %e neutral unities in some $ay" 9hese assumptions to!ether allo$ composition to focus e#clusively on the $ay parameters are com%ined( instead of focusin! on parameters themselves" I"e"( the focus is on the structure of a $or6" 9he more the sound materiality used in a $or6 is neutral (e#empted of si!nification %eyond its parametric information ( the more it %ecomes efficient to %e a %earer of a structure( a structure that is essentially autonomous concernin! the sound materiality on $hich it is applied" 9hat is the reason( amon! others( $hy in the 12345s Elektronische Musik used sine $aves as one of its %asic compositional material( and Musi ue Concrte defended the deletion of referential aspect in recorded sounds in order to consider theiry inclusion in a composition (an additional reason is the need for transformin! the electroacoustic set into an instrument( as can %e seen in Zampronha P44P " 9he historical density of sound materiality to!ether

$ith its referential in !eneral is considered secondary" Structure is fully identified $ith the si!nification of a $or6" In the 12345s( $hat a $or6 says is fundamentally its structure" 7o$ever( since the late 12C45s and early 12845s( amid several transformations that happened in contemporary music( parameters mutual influence of parameters $hen com%ined clearly %e!an to %e ta6en into account" Aesides( the referential aspect of sound materiality clearly started to %e ta6en into account too( %e this referential aspect historical( %e it from another nature" An attac6 mi!ht influence the listenin! of a note duration( a %ell sound mi!ht influence the listenin! %y ma6in! references to some specific litur!ical conte#ts( a specific chord mi!ht refer to !he "ite of Spring %y I!or Stravins6y or to #arben %y Arnold Schoen%er! amon! other $or6s( or a se.uence of pitches mi!ht refer( for instance( to Denaissance madri!als" And( in the late 12C45s( even $hen all references $ere removed( the a%sence of references itself mi!ht then refer to the e#periments made in the 12345s( $hich in the late 12C45s had already %ecome history" Comple#ity of listenin! and sound references then started to %e ta6en into account" Ever since several proposals have appeared to deal $ith this ne$ compositional panorama( and one of these proposals is !esture"

Gesture on the edge between sound materiality and signification


In hi!hly codified systems( such as ver%al lan!ua!es( there is a stron! independence %et$een material vehicle and contents to %e transmitted" <ue to this independence( it is possi%le to o%serve chan!es in the material vehicle $ithout a correspondin! variation in the transmitted contents (Groupe m 122@: 3@ " 9hat allo$s( for instance( to translate one lan!ua!e into another( or to e#press one idea usin! different $ords in one same lan!ua!e" 7o$ever( in less codified systems( and this is the case in $hich music is included( the relation of dependence %et$een material vehicle and contents is much more pronounced" Material vehicle and content are so close one another in music that the term Smeanin!S really does not seems not to %e ade.uate" 9he term Ssi!nificationS seems to %e an alternative to e#press the process of turnin! a se.uence of sounds in music into somethin! intelli!i%le( $ithout any reference to ver%al lan!ua!e" A $or6 of music cannot %e translated" In music one musical idea cannot %e e#plained usin! other sounds as if it $ere a $ord that( in ver%al lan!ua!es( can %e e#plained usin! other $ords" Musical si!nification chan!es su%stantially $hen sound materiality is chan!ed" Si!nification is closely related to its material vehicle in music( and almost %lends $ith it" In this sense( material vehicle is not 'ust a %earer of a musical idea that is stran!e to it" Material vehicle is a fundamental piece for the construction of musical si!nification" 9hat is $hy all !estures( $hich ta6e part into the construction of material vehicle in music( i"e"( its sound materiality( are not accessories" Instead( they are important aspects $hich deserve full attention" Qith re!ard to musical performance( !estures O performer actions onto an instrument O are much more important for the construction of si!nification in music than to the construction of meanin! in ver%al lan!ua!e" As states Clar6e( Se#pression cannot %e a learned pattern of timin!( dynamics and articulation( remem%ered and applied to a piece each time it is playedS (Clar6e P44P: FE " SIn particular( the %ody is not an RinputToutput

deviceR( %ut is intimately %ound up $ith our $hole response to musicS (Clar6e P44P: FF " It is Sas much a part of findin! out a%out music as it is a means for its actuali)ationS (Clar6e P44P: F8 " Qith re!ard to musical composition( !esture comes to %e understood as a sound materiality movement that !enerates a delimited confi!uration reco!ni)a%le %y listenin! as a unit" 9his unity is closely associated to si!nification inside a $or6" Parameters tend not to %e treated independently from one another anymore" 9hey are treated as a set( and the multiple interferences they produce one another are ta6en into account" In this conte#t( !lo%al confi!urations that listenin! is a%le to apprehend from a sound materiality movement( their spectral and morpholo!ical transformations( are more important than a structure in $hich its lo!ic serves to or!ani)e the microscopy of parameters in a $or6" 9he %rushstro6e a painter ma6es onto a screen can %e understood as a visi%le mar6 of his or her !esture& li6e$ise( in music sound materiality and its movement in time can %e understood as an audi%le mar6 of a !esture onto an instrument" Aesides( the path sound materiality ma6es inside a concert room( as it happens in electroacoustic music( can also %e understood as the mar6 of a !esture( or even as a !esture %ein! made %y a sound itself" A !esture can %e associated to a movement a performer ma6es to produce a sound" It can %e associated to a sound materiality also( $hich %ecomes an audi%le mar6 of a !esture( or even a !esture itself" In %oth cases( !esture is on the ed!e %et$een sound materiality and musical si!nification" It touches these %oth sides" 9his $ay it %ecomes an ans$er some recent contemporary music !ives to the already mentioned issues opened %y contemporary music in the 12345s"9hat is $hy it has a remar6a%le role in the construction of musical si!nification in contemporary music( deservin! special attention"

The contact between gesture and sound materiality! gesture as a natural ground
Aecause it is on the ed!e %et$een sound materiality and si!nification( it is possi%le to consider that the contact !esture esta%lishes $ith materiality can !ive it a status similar to that of harmonic series in tonal music" 7armonic series is used to ar!ue that tonal music is !rounded in nature and( therefore( its la$s are necessary( motivated" 9his 6ind of ar!ument is found in Dameau (12C1 and in Schoen%er! (12CE ( for instance (on the relationship %et$een music and nature see ;u%ini P44E " 7o$ever( not al$ays $as harmonic series the ar!ument used to !round tonal music in nature" Giuseppe 9artini( in his !rattato di musica secundo la vera scien$a dell%armonia UMusic treatise accordin! to the true science of harmonyV( issued in 1C3E( considered the !er$o Suono phenomenon (the Com%ination 9ones U1V as this ar!ument" No$adays it is 6no$n that this !er$o Suono is not an acoustic phenomenon" Instead( it is a conse.uence of non0linear features inside our hearin! system( more specifically inside cochlea (to an introductory e#planation see Cho P444 " In fact( these and other authors are loo6in! for a !round to 'ustify in nature the musical la$s they use( so that their la$s are not a result from an ar%itrary choice %y composer or %y a culture as a $hole" In the P4th century this need someho$ persists to certain

authors" 9o !round music in nature %y means of !esture is a conse.uence of a search to overcome the non0necessary( non0motivated relationships found in several musical procedures in the 12345s" Contemporary music post01284 tries to replace the 12345s non0motivated com%inationof parameters %y a motivated musical construction !rounded in some reference" Gesture ans$ers to this need" It is seen as a physical( concrete reference that can %e used as a !round" 9he coherence !esture presents is transferred to composition to !round different relationships amon! parameters" =ther contemporary music trends post01284 use other references %esides !esture" Sound spectrum is used to !round different compositional aspects in spectral music( as can %e seen in $or6s %y Gerard Grisey (for a panoramic vie$ on this theme see AarriJre 1221 " =r( in other cases( the historical density of sound materiality used in composition !rounds certain forms of post0modernism( as in $or6s %y Alfred Schnitt6e or %y Gil%erto Mendes (122E " At a certain e#tent the difference amon! several musical trends in the post0 12845s is a matter of $hich !round a composer chooses to use in his or her $or6" Gesture is one of the possi%le !rounds"

The contact between gesture and signification! gesture brings significations to the wor(
Arian ;erneyhou!h is one of the composers that uses !esture as central element in his compositions as much as in his theoretical te#ts" 7e considers !esture as an o%'ective unit that has a specific confi!uration $hich is delimited in time and space( and that is San iconic representation of the emotionS (Aoros W 9oop 122F: P8@ " ;erneyhou!h condemns the use of !esture as a representation of emotions in music %ecause he considers that it produces a return to Domanticism" Alternatively he proposes the use of $hat he names figure& ;i!ure( accordin! to ;erneyhou!h( is the result of !esture deconstruction in parameters" Each parameter is !iven an autonomous unfoldin!( ho$ever someho$ 6eepin! the !esture as a %ac6drop" In this sense he tries to overcome the issues posed %y the serial music in the 12345s $ithout !oin! %ac6 to Domanticism" As he states( Sno lon!er does one attempt to create a !esture via the automatic comin! to!ether of a%stract parametric units or .uantitiesS (Aorons W 9oop 122F: P83 ( as used to happen in serial music" <ifferently( one attempts to so construct gestures that the parametric ualities of 'hich the( are composed are released into the 'orld of the music )*+ in order to be able to conflate in different 'a(s, or coincides to produce ne' gestural units (Aorons W 9oop 122F: P83 " 7o$ever( !esture is not 'ust a representation of emotions" 9he K9emporal Semiotic UnitiesN (-nits Smioti ues !emporelles ( as defined %y ;ranXois <elalande( for instance( can %e considered !estures in another conte#t" 9hey are defined as: Sound configurations that seem )&&&+ to be bearers of a ver( specific .signification. on the temporal plan& Sometimes it is a configuration that one finds in a specific 'ork& /o'ever, on the contrar(, sometimes it appears in various contexts and under slightl( different shapes, but having al'a(s more or less the same effect or the same temporal significance (<elalande 122F: 18 "

<elalande !ives as e#ample a se.uence of sounds listened as contracted and follo$ed immediately %y another se.uence listened as e#panded" 7e states that these t$o se.uences to!ether $ill %e perceived as an unit $ith its o$n si!nification( re!ardless the $or6 in $hich this unit is included" 0t is possible to describe such se uence in morphological terms onl(& /o'ever, 'hat properl( defines it is the feeling that results from time precipitation follo'ed b( its expansion& (M UIt isV precisel( the temporal signification 1contraction2expansion3 that allo's to recogni$e and isolate this unit( (<elalande 122F: 18 " So( as the 9emporal Semiotic Unities sho$s O and as it $ill %e discussed in the te#t topic O( !esture representation is not restricted to that of emotions" 9o some e#tent 9emporal Semiotic Unities and !esture match in many aspects" Aoth %rin! to a $or6 si!nifications that are related to them( and that are previous re!ardin! the composition" In this sense the use of !esture in music post01284 is clearly different from the search for a neutral sound materiality in the 12345s( $hich aimed to eliminate si!nifications and references from it " In music post01284 !estures are important e#actly due to the references they accomplish( due to the si!nifications they introduce into the $or6( si!nifications and references that can %e used in a creative $ay inside composition"

Gesture and different types of representation! the deconstruction of stereotyped gesture


;erneyhou!h5s criticism a!ainst the relationship %et$een !esture and emotion is not entirely pertinent" =n the one hand( Domanticism is not the only period in music history that includes emotion in its musical lan!ua!e" =n the other hand( representations that !esture is a%le to accomplish are not limited to an iconicity of emotions" Aesides iconic representations %y means of $hich !esture can e#press several .ualities of emotions and sensations( it can also accomplish inde#ical and sym%olic (i"e"( conventional representations" A sound movin! in a concert room throu!h several spea6ers around the audience (as it happens in electroacoustic $or6s can %e an inde#ical representation of a !esture in time and space( or even a !esture itself in action" Electroacoustic music can also create inde#ical representations of space distances (distant B close( direct sounds B reflected sounds or specific time relationships (compression B stretchin! " Dhythm( dynamics and harmonic tension can !enerate inde#ical sound !estures that can point to specific polari)ed tar!ets in music" Moreover( sound distri%ution in space can enhance musical se!ments( can articulate parts( or can amplify dynamics relationships" All art of electroacoustic diffusion is %ased on fundaments as these" Aesides( !esture can represent certain sym%olic relationships" It can represent codified features $hich connect listenin! $ith a funereal march or a tan!o" It can also %e a melodic line played %y trumpets representin! the typical !esture of an overture" Still( it can %e a sin!le %ell sound that( e#clusively due to its particular tim%re and the $ay it varies in time( $hich in fact is !esture em%odied in a spectrum and a morpholo!y( can represent a specific litur!yUPV" In fact( it is the sym%olic aspects that certain !estures sho$ $hen they represent certain emotions $hat is condemned %y ;erneyhou!h" It is e#actly sym%olic relationships that

are suppressed $hen !esture is deconstructed in parameters( particularly stereotyped sym%olic relationships" 9he deconstruction proposed %y ;erneyhou!h does not really seem to %e a deconstruction of !esture itself" Gesture still e#ists in his deconstruction( and it is used as a 6ey element to relate parameters amon! themselves in a si!nificant unit" 9hat is $hy he su!!ests that synchronic identity %et$een !esture and emotion should %e replaced %y a diachronic identity( that is: diachronic sucessivit( as the central mode of 4reading musical states, for the reason that a progressive accreational definition of musical vocables is indispensable if a counter'eight to the suffocating presence of historicall( concrete st(listic triggers is to be created (Aoros W 9oop 122F: @E " 9o deconstruct a !esture is to eliminate the tri!!ers that ma6e the stereotype andKthe suffocatin! presence of historically concrete stylisticN they imply to appear" As I understand it( the term fi!ure used %y ;erney!hou!h is in fact a !esture $ithout those tri!!ers $hich set stereotypes in motion( specially the ones related to stereotyped emotions" Aesides( stereotypes place !esture far a$ay from sound materiality( and that turns stereotyped si!nification relatively autonomous respect to it" So a deconstruction of stereotype %rin!s !esture %ac6 to the ed!e %et$een sound materiality and si!nification( thus %ein! a%le to connect %oth domains a!ain ma6in! room for the appearance of ne$ musical si!nifications" 9he hyper0valuation of the contact %et$een !esture and si!nification: a search for transcultural si!nifications 9he search for a natural !round in music and the use of !esture as a concrete even physical reference $hose coherence is transferred to composition (as if it had a status similar to harmonic series in tonal music can lead some points of vie$ up toe#cesses" <elalande( for instance( su!!ests that 9emporal Semiotic Units can present transcultural si!nifications: 5ne 'ill also note that if the -&S&!& U9emporal Semiotic UnitsV o'e their sense to .natural models., to .general codes., one can look at 'hat is independent from a culture, a period, or a st(le& )&&&+ 0t is fairl( likel( there are no cultural frontiers to this vocabular( (<elalande 122F: PP " E#periments accomplished %y mem%ers of the Music, Semiotics and 0nteractivit(6roup of Studies that I coordinate at the So PauloStateUniversity sho$ stron! evidences that cultural conte#t influences even the most %asic sound perception( $hich until recently $as not clear enou!h" In e#periments on perception usin! speech soundsU@V it $as verified that native Portu!uese spea6ers from Ara)il distort the perception of vo$el sounds shorter than 34 milliseconds( transformin! all of them into an TIT" 9hat is( an TaT or any other vo$el shorter than 34 milliseconds is heard as if it $ere an TIT" Even $hen there is no vo$el sound an TIT is inserted %y the listenin! after certain consonants" 9hus( a sound that does not e#ist acoustically is listened as if it $ere a real acoustic phenomenon" It is very interestin! to o%serve that this phenomenon does not occur in native Portu!uese spea6ers from Portu!al" 7o$ever( it happens in native ?apanese spea6ers" Qhat first calls our attention is that to native ?apanese spea6ers from ?apan all

vo$els shorter than 34 milliseconds are perceived as an TuT instead of an TIT" 9he fact the vo$els are different in the t$o cases led us to investi!ate $hat happens in cases $here adult ?apanese spea6ers immi!rate to Ara)il( havin! no previous contact $ith the Portu!uese lan!ua!e" 9he result $as surprisin!: after learnin! Portu!uese in Ara)il these adults started to chan!e all vo$els shorter than 34 milliseconds to TIT instead of TuT" 9hat $as so une#pected that all e#periments $ere verified a!ain( and a set of an even lar!er num%er of ne$ tests $as done" 9he phenomenon $as o%served in more than 24Y of the cases" 9he se.uences of sounds used in these tests $ere lo!atoms" 9hat is( se.uences of sounds that have no meanin! either in Portu!uese or in ?apanese" 9his feature raised the hypothesis that their listenin! could %e similar to the listenin! of tim%res" 9he fact that distortion stops $hen vo$el is lon!er than 34 milliseconds reinforce this hypothesis( since 34 milliseconds is the threshold a%ove $hich $e !enerally start to identify pitches and under $hich $e !enerally identify 'ust tim%res( and the association %et$een vo$els and pitches is $ell 6no$n" 9herefore it $as decided that tests $ith musicians had to %e done" 9ests $ere accomplished $ith under0!raduate students %elon!in! to the last year of the under0!raduate course in composition and conductin! at the So PauloStateUniversity" In tests in $hich students had free time to ans$er( the ear0trainin! allo$ed the students to identify vo$els lo$er than 34 milliseconds correctly in almost all cases( $hich demonstrates %oth that some approach %et$een lo!atoms and tim%re perception to identify the correct vo$els is pertinent( and that trainin! can chan!e the $ay $e perceive even very short and %asic perceptual unities" 7o$ever( in tests re.uirin! fast ans$ers the students had 'ust a sli!htly %etter performance $hen compared to non0musicians( $hich indicates that cultural conte#t and ear0trainin! have their limits for transformin! $hat is listened in these cases" 9hus these e#periments confirm that perception is in fact an interpretation( a semiotic action onto $hat is perceived( and listenin! can interfere in $hat is perceived up to certain limits" As a conse.uence( considerin! that sound materiality and si!nifications are very closely related in music( listeners from different cultural conte#ts and different 6inds of education and ear0trainin! can perceive differently to the same acoustical si!nal( chan!in! the $ay sound materiality itself is listened to and( as a result( chan!in! its si!nification" 9hese considerations tend to eliminate the hypothesis of transcultural si!nifications" Aased on these e#periments( the ma#imum that is possi%le to accept is a partial transcultural si!nification( $hich still needs to %e e#perimentally investi!ated"

The hyper)*aluation of the contact between gesture and sound materiality! a search for the reduction of signification to gesture
<ue to the close relation %et$een sound materiality and si!nification it $ould %e possi%le to consider that it $ould %e enou!h to $or6 directly on the !esture to achieve ne$ si!nifications" 7o$ever( the reduction of si!nification to !esture can lead music to emptiness" 9he reduction of si!nification to !esture is closely related to a chan!e in musical $ritin!" Musical $ritin! %ecomes essentially prescriptive( that is( it points out as much as possi%le the actions a performer has to accomplish on the instrument to play the

composition instead of descri%in! the desired sound results (See!er 12CC& a%out different relationships %et$een musical $ritin! and composition see Zampronha P444 " 9he !reater the reduction of musical si!nification to !esture( the !reater the prescriptive aspects found in a score" In %orderline cases( prescri%in! a !esture in a score is a6in to $ritin! its si!nification" 7o$ever( $hen prescriptive aspect of a score are e#cessive( si!nification turns out to %e a result more related $ith choices a performer ma6es to play the score than $ith a musical thou!ht that the score re!isters and a performer reconstructs" 9he act of playin! one of these hi!hly comple# scores implies a search for !estures that can translate as much as possi%le $hat is prescri%ed into sounds" <ue to the fact that the hi!h comple#ity of some scores does not allo$ for the performer to play all that is re.uired( he or she is compelled to ma6e choices considerin! %oth $hat is prescri%ed %y the score and the limits of his or her techni.ue" 7e or she $ill play a su%set of $hat is indicated tryin! to play as close as possi%le all that is prescri%ed" 9he score is then transformed into !estures" 9he chosen !estures ma6e sense %ecause they are conditioned to %ody nature in its interaction $ith an instrument (i"e"( they have a particular synta# ( and due to that fact those !estures %rin! particular si!nifications to the $or6 themselves (Zampronha P444: PFP " 9he association %et$een !esture and emotion( %et$een !esture and a stereotyped transcendent meanin! is eliminated %y this procedure" 7o$ever( althou!h this procedure is conceptually interestin!( the $or6 can also %ecome a set of !estures $ith no sense" Moreover( some !estures chosen %y the performer can %e e#actly stereotyped ones $hich( %y means of adaptations( can match appro#imately $hat is indicated %y the score" If that happens( the result is a distorted stereotyped !esture"

"ig# + O ;ra!ment of the $or6 9errain( %y Arian ;erneyhou!h (122P: 1 Althou!h !estures can ta6e part in the !eneration of a si!nification in music( neither all !estures produce ne$ si!nifications( nor si!nification can %e reduced to a !esture" As already mentioned( si!nification in music is very close to sound materiality" 7o$ever( no matter ho$ close they are( si!nification in music cannot %e reduced to !esture" In music( si!nification is the result of a s(nthesis the mind accomplishes to make intelligible 'hat is listened& !his s(nthesis is not limited to the perceptible aspects of music, its material aspects as the sound phenomena for instance7 ho'ever, it is also not independent from them& !his s(nthesis is introduced in sound phenomena b( the mind to create connections among them, connections that in another 'a( the( 'ould not have (Zampronha P44E: C8 "

In this definition the listener5s cultural %ac6!round is as relevant as the constraints that sound materiality imposes to the construction of certain connections made %y listenin!" Sound materiality cannot determine e#actly $hich connections listenin! $ill construct" 7o$ever( it can prevent listenin! of constructin! some connections" A Gre!orian chant( for instance( cannot determine ho$ it is to %e listened& ho$ever it definitely does not allo$ listenin! to listen to it as if it $ere a standard t$elve0tone music" It is in the dialo!ue %et$een connections a listener accomplishes amon! those the sound materiality allo$s( tryin! to translate $hat is listened into somethin! intelli!i%le( that musical si!nification emer!es" 9herefore( musical si!nification cannot %e reduced to !esture"

Gesture and performance! the particular case of electroacoustic music


A listener can esta%lish an inde#ical connection %et$een $hat is listened and !estures made %y a performer on his or her instrument" Gestural inde#icalities can %e fulfilled in concerts( and the connection %et$een !estures and sounds may constitute a rich field of interest for listenin!" Althou!h several !estures are related to the production of sounds in music( several others such as facial e#pressions and %ody postures may have no relations $ith it" Instead( they may %e related $ith socio0cultural values shared $ith the audience( and they can %e introduced durin! a performance so that the listenin! is enriched $ith e#tra0musical si!nifications" It is of interest( then( to verify $hat happens in electroacoustic music concerts $hen there is no other performer %esides the one $ho ma6es the electroacoustic diffusion" Althou!h it is possi%le to state that in electroacoustic music !estures are eliminated from performance( it is also possi%le to state that in electroacoustic music the physical !esture is transcended( and that ne$ possi%ilities not constrained %y %odily limitations are no$ availa%le (Smalley 122F " It is possi%le to consider the movement of sound entities in space as !estures themselves" Aesides( the creation of different spaces and the chan!e from one to another durin! a concert enlar!es the notion of !esture to other domains" Poor electroacoustic music diffusion mi!ht not introduce !estures in the $or6( and the listener mi!ht not perceive a real difference %et$een listenin! to it in a concert or at home" Even $orse( poor electroacoustic diffusion mi!ht even dama!e a $or6" Electroacoustic diffusion is an action upon recorded sounds (or sounds processed in real time ( $hich can introduce !estures in it" Efficiency is achieved( amon! other aspects( $hen the listener considers $hat is listened as a result of !estures produced durin! the electroacoustic diffusion" Even $hen fin!er movements on a mi#in! %oard are not seen( musical sounds leave traces that allo$ listenin! to connect $hat is listened to !estures( $hich is of !reat importance in a concert" Qhen that happens( !estures introduce additional si!nifications that recorded sounds alone do not have" In electroacoustic diffusion !esture should impress listenin! as if it $ere the cause of $hat is listened" In this sense( it can( for instance( create articulations( create similarities( create different spaces usin! different sets of spea6ers availa%le in the concert room( create or enhance contrasts( increase e#pressiveness( relate musical motives to space displacements( and so on" Some %asic mista6es in electroacoustic diffusion happen $hen fader movements

(i"e"( !estures on the mi#in! %oard or other media are apprehended %y listenin! in disa!reement $ith the recorded sounds %ehavior( particularly in diminuendos (fade outs or $hen a sound is displaced from one spea6er to another( for instance" Another very %asic and common mista6e $orth mentionin! is the loss of stereo ima!es due to an inefficient placement of spea6ers on the concert room( or due to a diffusion that sends a stereo sound to spea6ers too far apart( transformin! a stereo ima!e in t$o mono sounds" Many other mista6es can happen" 7o$ever( amon! the most %asic ones the apprehension of fader movements %y listenin! is very amateurish( and one of the $orst ones" In an electroacoustic music studio (or at a home studio the availa%le interfaces to !enerate and manipulate sounds do not usually consider a causal relationship %et$een the composerRs action and $hat is listened" An inde#ical relationship is missin!( $hich is not supplied %y a mouse clic6( a 'oystic6 or a command typed on a 6ey%oard" In an electroacoustic $or6( $here almost all inde#ical representations can %e a%sent( I consider it useful to include certain sounds that can represent !estures themselves( sounds that can %e listened as sound !estures $hich produce other sounds and that have !reat impact in concerts" A sharp noise $ith a very pronounced crescendo a%out t$o seconds lon! can %e listened as an attac6 !esture to the production of other sounds( as a !ranular lo$ pitched one that immediately follo$s it( for instance" 9he first sound increases its tension and li%erates it on the second" 9his attac60resonance model is used to connect the t$o sounds efficiently" Moreover( in an electroacoustic conte#t $here the reco!nition of causalities accomplished %y other sound !estures prevails( i"e"( $here the presence of sounds that represent !estures themselves prevails( the introduction of sounds $ithout identifia%le causalities ac.uires an important rhetorical effect( and can %e e#plored thorou!hly in the construction of several musical discourses"

"ig# , O ;ra!ment of the manuscript of the $or6 Concert for Electroacoustic Sounds( %y Edson Zampronha"

Gesture and the poetic conception of a wor(! the transformation of non)musical into musical
If listeners can reco!ni)e !esture as a delimited confi!uration( then someho$ !estures can also %e manipulated as if they $ere motives" Similarly to $hat happens in music

from earlier periods( memory can 6eep pertinent traces $hich identify a !esture and can interpret ne$ appearances of these traces as %ein! ne$ appearances of the same or a similar !esture" 9his is $hat can %rin! !estures and motives closer and this is $hat ma6es it possi%le to adapt a variety of motive manipulation procedures from other periods to recent contemporary music" 7o$ever( !esture can %e used in a very different $ay" It is possi%le to e#plore the fact that !esture is on the ed!e %et$een sound materiality and si!nification and e#tract from that some challen!in! musical conse.uences of !reat relevance to recent contemporary music" 9he $or6 Modeling 000( for solo flute that I composed in 1223( is an e#ample that sho$s ho$ parameters can %e $or6ed all to!ether $ithout destroyin! !esture" In the %e!innin! of this $or6 parameters are treated inside a note" 9hey are manipulated in order to create a counterpoint of parameters inside this note" It is a counterpoint that presents a similar !esture em%odied into different parameters as vi%rato( dynamics( attac6s( tim%res( and so on"

"ig# - % ;ra!ment of the manuscript of the $or6 Modeling 000( %y Edson Zampronha" 7o$ever the plot in this $or6 !oes far %eyond this counterpoint of parameters" 9he plot is a result from a transformation( durin! the development of the $or6 itself( of a sound materiality that is not music yet into music" 9he sound materiality used is a lon! nude and transparent note" It is 'ust a material a composer can use to create music" 7o$ever( it is not music yet" 9his lon! note is almost reduced to the performerRs daily e#ercises for the maintenance of his or her techni.ue" 7o$ever( due to all transformations this lon! note is su%mitted( this sound that is not music yet is precisely $hat %ecomes music" 9his transformation of $hat is non0musical into $hat is musical reveals that musical discourse is displaced( that $hat is usually considered accessory %ecomes the focus( that a note $hich traditionally is part of a discourse is no$ transformed in a conte#t $here

another discourse happens" It is !esture( considered on the ed!e %et$een sound materiality and si!nification( that ma6es it possi%le to transform (it $ould %e more correct to say to re0si!nify( or( still( to trans0create ( amon! the possi%ilities offered %y sound materiality( $hat is non0musical into musical" 9he process of %ecomin! a$are of this transformation durin! the process of listenin! is the essence of the plot for the re0 si!nifications it implies( for the %ac6$ard movements listenin! has to do in order to re0 connect and re0consider $hat $as listened in another intelli!i%le $ay" Stereotyped !estures are inefficient to do that %ecause they are far a$ay from sound materiality and( at most( they !enerate an anecdotic effect $hen they impose to sound materiality a musicality that is stran!e to it" In fact( !estures have to %e very close to sound materiality( almost identified $ith it( to do this transformation( to %e the actors of this plot" In this fra!ment of Modeling 000 the sudden forte2pianos( vibratos( attac6s( are all musical !estures used to control the polyphony of parameters $hich trans0create the musical potential of a lon! note into somethin! musical indeed( and they lead listenin! to the a%ove mentioned plot( $hich is one of the main topics in contemporary music thou!ht" Plots as this one e#ist in a similar $ay in $or6s from previous periods( as in the initial arpeggio of the sonata =pus @1 No"P( K9empestS( %y Aeethoven& in the melody representin! a %arrel or!an at the %e!innin! of 8etrushka( %y Stravins6y& in the siren that invades 0onisation( %y ZarJse( or in many $or6s %y Ca!e in $hich sounds from daily life %ecome musical" In Modeling 000 !estures are the 6ey to transform $hat is non0musical into musical durin! the $or6 itself" Gestures are the 6ey to ma6e listenin! sensitive to this plot that in this $or6 appears in an innovative conte#t and is made usin! different resources" 9his transformation from non0musical into musical illustrates that the comple#ity of a $or6 is not necessarily (or e#clusively a result of a structure $ith plenty of comple# relationships" In this transformation( the %ac6$ard movements listenin! ma6es to re0 si!nify $hat $as listened promote the emer!ence of a multiplicity of discourses( either amon! different parts of one $or6 or amon! the $or6 $ith other a%sent $or6s" 9hus( a $or6 %ecomes a sta!e on $hich a comple# dialo!ue amon! $or6s and different parts of the same $or6 happens" 9he mentioned $or6 %y Aeethoven( for instance( converses $ith the Aaro.ue and $ith itself (the arpeggio that seems to %e an introduction %ecomes an essential part of the 1st theme and( at the same time( ma6es reference to a Aaro.ue recitative( as can %e seen at the %e!innin! of the re0e#position & the $or6 %y Stravins6y converses $ith traditional sentences from the Classic period& the $or6 %y ZarJse converses $ith sounds that have social and coded meanin!s( and many $or6s %y Ca!e converse $ith sounds from our daily life that %ecome( in some cases( ready0mades" In these cases( to listen to a $or6 is to listen to other $or6s or sound conte#ts simultaneously( $hich !enerates a net of .uite comple# re0si!nifications that can enrich the $or6 effectively listened as much as enrich the a%sent $or6s it converses $ith( chan!in! the $ay $e listen to them" Some composers put this dialo!ue e#plicitly inside a $or6( as it happens in the @rd movement of the S(mphon(, %y Iuciano Aerio( $hich converses $ith Gustav Mahler( or in the @rd movement of the @rdString 9uartet( %y Alfred Schnitt6e( $hich converses $ith =rlando di Iasso" 9hose are fundamental points to contemporary music( and !esture is decisive to achieve them"

"inal considerations

9he use of !esture in contemporary music post01284 is an ans$er to technical and aesthetical assumptions found in music proposals since the 12345s" In particular( to the %asic assumption that states that parameters 6eep their features unchan!ed re!ardless the $ay there are com%ined( $hich !enerates important conse.uences re!ardin! the neutrality of sound materiality( structure and listenin!" In this paper I have approached a variety of topics related to !esture in contemporary music post01284 that( in %rief( sho$s:

9hat !esture is on the ed!e %et$een sound materiality and musical si!nification( touchin! %oth domains& 9hat !esture is not neutral( and %rin!s different si!nifications to the $or6& 9hat in some cases !esture is used to !round music in nature( overcomin! issues that resulted from the use of non0necessary and non0motivated relationships as in the 12345s( $hich !ives !esture a role similar to the harmonic series in tonal music& 9hat representations that !esture can accomplish are( %esides the iconic ones( inde#ical and sym%olic ones( and that to eliminate stereotyped sym%olic representations is to %rin! !esture %ac6 to the ed!e %et$een sound materiality and si!nification& 9hat the hyper0valuation of the contact %et$een !esture and si!nifications can lead one to state that !estures have trans0cultural si!nifications( and %ased on e#periments I remar6 that it is not entirely correct& 9hat the hyper0valuation of the contact %et$een !esture and sound materiality can lead one to state that si!nifications can %e reduced to !estures alone( and %ased on the analysis of the conse.uences this point of vie$ has on scores I remar6 that it can not %e entirely correct either& 9hat it is possi%le to relate !esture and performance even in the case of electroacoustic music( and I o%serve !eneral aspects on ho$ !estures are present in the particular case of electroacoustic music diffusion in concerts"

I conclude %y sho$in! that !esture can %e used in a challen!in! $ay %y the poetic conception of recent contemporary music" Althou!h some authors $ant to find in !esture a natural !round to 'ustify his or her musical procedures( this approach to !esture seems to have almost no relevance to the construction of a contemporary music composition( havin! almost no momentum to !o %eyond personal circumstances that find in !esture an ans$er to personal issues" Aein! on the ed!e %et$een sound materiality and musical si!nification( !esture turns out to %e an efficient resource throu!h $hich it is possi%le to transform $hat is non0musical into musical inside a $or6" A $or6 %ased on this transformation !enerates a comple# plot resultin! from the many re0si!nifications it !enerates in listenin!( $hich ma6es room to a rich dialo!ue %et$een the $or6 and other $or6s" It %ecomes then a $ay %y means of $hich composers can focus listenin! in this plot that is one of the main important topics for the construction of contemporary musical thou!ht no$adays"

"ootnotes
1" !er$o Suono or Com%ination 9ones is a phenomenon that happens $hen t$o sounds of different fre.uencies sound simultaneously and a third sound starts to %e listened" 9he t$o sounds are usually in simple interval relation( and the com%ination tones are more audi%le $hen the t$o sounds are played forte" 9he fre.uency of the third sound is either the difference or the sum of the fre.uency of the other t$o ones" 9hat is $hy com%ination tones are also named respectively differential and additive sounds"U[V P" Iconic( inde#ical and sym%olic representations are classes of si!ns that %elon! to Peirce5s semiotics" ;or an introduction to his semiotics see Merrell 1228 and Santaella 1223& for a synthetic presentation see NHth 1224( for an introductory vision of semiotics applied to music see Zampronha P441" Peirce5s semiotics also %ases the S9emporal Semiotic UnitiesS %y <elalande( althou!h he does not ma6e reference to Peirce in the te#t .uoted in this paper"U[V @" 9ests accomplished $ith Lri6a Maria Parlato as part of her <octorate 9hesis still in pro!ress at Pontif-cia Universidade Cat,lica de So Paulo (PUCTSP and Lcole de 7autes Ltudes en Sciences Sociales (E7ESS ( havin! as her tutors Prof" <r" Emmanuel <upou# and myself""U[V

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