Concepts, terminology and methodology in music performativity research

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A music performance may be defined as the live presentation of a music event by musicians and other participants or stakeholders at a given time and place, usually in the presence of an audience. The concept of music performativity, on the other hand, includes not only the artist s/artists production of sounds and movements, persona (stage presence), competence, approach, and style, but also influential factors such as the acoustics and style of the venue, the arrangement of the stage or arena, audience seating, the lighting, and the contributions of the director, technicians, back-up artists, make-up artists, event organizers, entrepreneurs, audience, and patrons; indeed everyone involved in the process of bringing a performance to fruition. This article discusses the recent rise of thinking about performativity by interdisciplinary scholars, performers, music scholars, and performer-scholars, and proposes a comprehensive four-level methodology for research into music performativity. After investigating performative concepts such as persona, competence, interaction, improvisatory practices, cueing, and related attributes such as musicality, talent, and giftedness, the article discusses the factors of intersubjectivity (or group bonding), entrainment or groove, and reception. Finally, a case study exemplifies the proposed methodology, including how the members of a competent or accomplished Acehnese-Indonesian song-dance group communicate while performing, how their persona and intersubjective bonding affects the way they rehearse, cue, and perform their strenuous body percussion sounds, movements and songs with near-perfectly synchronous entrainment, tone colour and intonation, and how they interact with each other and the audience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189 - 208
Number of pages20
JournalMusicology Australia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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