Aspiring to a chat in the pub about anything

I need, according to my supervisor Scott, to have a quick answer to hand about what my PhD is about. Something that I could just quickly get through over a pint in the pub. To that end…

Movement is inherent in music; we move to generate sound, sound then moves in waves, we then dance/tap our feet/sway etc. etc. etc. in response. Sometimes we sit quite still, but even then our eardrums rattle about and we move our hands, flapping them together repeatedly at the end of a performance.

I find it really difficult to stand still when I play my flute, most performers do. We use movement (consciously or unconsciously) to heighten expressivity, to meet technical demands (whose eyebrows don’t go up when they play flat???) and to alter our projection (bells up, clarinets). My research looks at what can be achieved when movement is taken further in the making of a performance. I treat movement in the same way as melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, or to quote Takasugi, as an ‘orchestration’.

I’ve thought about all of the expressions of movement that become apparent when performers play and written studies which interrogate these ideas. Facial movements, page turners, overexertion, walking, breathing, operating the instrument and so on. Vidoes of some of the studies can be found on the listen and watch page.

I hope that this research is useful because there doesn’t exist a huge amount of repertoire for flute which uses movement. We have Stockhausen but there is a bit of a rift after him. There are a few bits and pieces that have emerged more recently, notably from Kathryn Williams and Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh, as well as various New Discipline pieces, but compared to percussion pieces using theatrical movements, flautists are not spoilt for choice. Given the fairly exuberant style of performance common in flute playing, I’d say that we are missing a trick, and not making the most of a skill which flautists often have in spades.

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