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Stu

Posts: 1940
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

Physicality/expression in music 

The other day I was watching a video of a flamenco player with my little girl. And my daughter asked 'Daddy why is he scrunching his face up and wiggling about like that?'

I immediately attempted to answer.... but found myself talking in circles

Well the music is moving him.... Oh no, He's doing that to help him play that difficult bit...no he's really feeling the emotion here...etc etc.

I realised I couldn't really tell her why.

Then I recalled the other day whilst I was practicing. I had found myself moving my head and 'wiggling' (something I've never really done that much, or noticed) but I found it helped me through a certain passage or difficult stretch/chord... I then decided to deliberately contort and 'wiggle about' in certain places to see if it really helped and or seemed to.
Obviously it's mild movements, without tension and relaxed.

So the question i guess I have...
When you see professional/accomplished/prodigious musicians playing... Is the music moving them or is that a tool to help them 'get into' and therefore play the music better.
Or maybe a bit of both.??

I guess I'd like to know if it's something I should be starting to 'let happen' whilst I play

(Realised that may make me sound a bit crazy. Images of me twisting like a maniac whilst practicing)😂😂

Any thoughts
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 19 2020 20:58:57
 
Mark2

Posts: 1692
Joined: Jul. 12 2004
From: San Francisco

RE: Physicality/expression in music (in reply to Stu

Once I found myself rehearsing for a gig with a cellist and violinist who were with the sf symphony. I was playing a simple rumba and listening to these great players, trying to get my head around the fact that I was playing with these incredible musicians. I looked up at them and both their faces were twisted up. I thought maybe that’s the kind of commitment it takes to be that great. They were putting everything they had into it. Santana remarked once while watching the guitarist from phish that the guy was so into it he was drooling without knowing it. He loved it. I don’t think screwing up your face means anything but when it’s connected to amazing playing, it feels sincere to me. There is stagecraft too.....I also think it’s something even great players do at the hard parts. You see Paco and VA lift their chin when doing fast picado. It’s not that I think they can’t do it with a straight face.....
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 19 2020 22:59:18
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3202
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Physicality/expression in music (in reply to Stu

It's important to distinguish between moving and just tensing up. Some moving's OK, maybe even good for you. Tensing up in one position will get in your way.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 20 2020 2:16:16
 
tele

Posts: 1462
Joined: Aug. 17 2012
 

RE: Physicality/expression in music (in reply to Stu

The only blues great who can keep a straight face is Roy Buchanan in my memory, yet he moves his jaw in a funky way when playin, lol. Playing guitar is alot about feeling and emotion so naturally the face and even body goes with the music Also BB king talked about the facial expression when playing the guitar in his blues master lesson series and mentioned it helps him when playing, altough his wife said it looked like a lemon face. When I play and force to keep a completely still face and body it brings stiffness to the playing, at least psychological.

Also it's difficult to keep a completely still body when playing rythmical style, like bulerias. Moraito is a good example of how the body starts to move with the rhythm.

Well I understand classical guitarists tend to keep a blank face but that music doesn't move most people

I also note each player has their own ways to move around and express emotion facially, just like each player has their own way of playing the guitar and like singers guitarists might sound similar but never the same.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 20 2020 14:48:13
 
ric

 

Posts: 83
Joined: Dec. 27 2010
 

RE: Physicality/expression in music (in reply to Stu

Losing yourself is a good thing. Drooling, in this case, probably a good thing. Acting like a spaz, probably a good thing. You really don't want to look at your own face while you're having sex, or playing guitar, it's all part of being/reacting to.
I have many classical recordings when you can hear the persons breathing, while they're playing, like a trance state, or have even heard conductors humming as they conduct. Keith Jarrett, makes audible sounds, some many musicians go somewhere else, nice place to be, so scrunch away.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 20 2020 15:19:10
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3202
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Physicality/expression in music (in reply to tele

quote:

ORIGINAL: tele

Well I understand classical guitarists tend to keep a blank face but that music doesn't move most people



I go to at least a half dozen classical concerts per year, and sit in the center of one of the first three rows. I have a good view of the players. The local guitar society has as good a concert series every year as any place I know of. The players all show emotional engagement and response to the music. They don't put on a show with stadium-sized gestures like Jethro Tull or The Who, but they respond. Julian Bream, one of the greatest, was notorious for his mugging that was quite obvious to the back row in a big auditorium.

I just now remembered a master class I attended during the International Classical Guitar Festival at Cuernavaca, Mexico 20 years ago.

The student was a young woman. I remember fair skin and light brown hair. I guessed her age in the range 18-22 years. From her accent in Spanish I assumed she was from a family of fairly high social rank. Her manner seemed prim and reserved. She reminded me of girls I had known when I was her age, who had been educated in a convent. Did they still do that in the year 2000?

Her playing was competent, but stiff and un-expressive. I have seen lots of nerves in master classes, so I thought that might be a possibility.

The teacher, a well known and highly respected South American, offered some suggestions how to shape a phrase. The student's response was tentative.

The teacher was a nice looking man, maybe in his late 30s, with a friendly and engaging manner. He had put other nervous students at ease fairly quickly.

He praised the accuracy and poise of her playing.Then he asked her what she felt was the emotional content of the piece. Her response betrayed to me a lack of emotional engagement.

The teacher asked her to play some more. Then it seemed to occur to him on the spur of the moment. He got up, stood behind her, placed his hands lightly on her shoulders, and made her sway slightly in time with the music.

The student's surprise passed after a few beats. She responded by swaying in time with the teacher's prompting. The music immediately loosened up and became expressive, charming and emotional.

For the first time the student smiled.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 21 2020 7:06:52
 
El Burdo

 

Posts: 598
Joined: Sep. 8 2011
 

RE: Physicality/expression in music (in reply to Stu

Unconscious physical movements, pulling faces etc are genuine responses to the piece's emotional character as perceived, I'd say. Esp. if they are not 'becoming' faces or gestures. I haven't though of adopting them in order to get closer to the music I admit. But if it is a tool to do so, then why not?

I am quite physically responsive to rhythm and have decided it's OK to be like that. But, a sax player of significance in London, Don Rendell just stands there, while all this jaw dropping be-bop goes on about him. To me it would be unbearable. I was in a student big band where the MD suggested NOT tapping our toes and internalising the music, but in the end I decided that was not my way, and decided to continue to move if I wanted to.

Then there is movement designed to show the level of one's engagement with the music, or 'poncing about' as I think of it. I can't see that all this lifting and wafting of arms favoured by classical guitarists and pianists does anything. but then golfers don't see it that way.

Then there is professional movement, or 'getting down' which can be highly engaging.

Finally, there is 'substitute movement' which takes the place of the want of any musical value in a performance.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 21 2020 12:14:21
 
Auda

 

Posts: 217
Joined: Sep. 28 2019
 

RE: Physicality/expression in music (in reply to Stu

Have a look at Yamandu Costa. This one of his more subdued pieces.



Cheers
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 21 2020 12:38:37
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3202
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Physicality/expression in music (in reply to ric

quote:

ORIGINAL: ric
I have many classical recordings when you can hear the persons breathing, while they're playing, like a trance state, or have even heard conductors humming as they conduct. Keith Jarrett, makes audible sounds, some many musicians go somewhere else, nice place to be, so scrunch away.


Both Niño Ricardo and the great conductor Arturo Toscanini hummed or sang loud enough to be a problem for the recording engineers.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 21 2020 19:14:28
 
kitarist

Posts: 1440
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Physicality/expression in music (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

Both Niño Ricardo and the great conductor Arturo Toscanini hummed or sang loud enough to be a problem for the recording engineers.


Same with pianist Glenn Gould; it's the first thing mentioned under "eccentricities" on his Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Gould#Eccentricities

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Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 21 2020 19:23:12
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