Motive, gesture, and the analysis of performance

Rink, J. and Spiro, N. and Gold, N. (2011) Motive, gesture, and the analysis of performance. In: New Perspectives on Music and Gesture. SEMPRE Studies in The Psychology of Music . Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 267-292. ISBN 9780754664628 (hardback) 9781138248700 (paperback) 9781315598048 (e-book)


This chapter reverses a common tendency to assign the status of musical gestures to conventional musical motives. In contrast, we regard the gestures created in and through performance as potentially having motivic functions within the performed music. Such ‘motives’ are defined not in terms of pitch, harmony or rhythm, however, but as expressive patterns in timing, dynamics, articulation, timbre and/or other performative parameters that maintain their identity upon literal or varied repetition. The essential point has to do with the nature and function of the given patterns. By way of example, the following discussion focuses on select performances of Chopin’s Mazurka, Op. 24 No. 2, including certain dance-related features characteristic of the mazurka genre as a whole.

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