are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
User avatar
dedos
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:01 am
Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by dedos » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:57 pm

Josef Hofmann was asked a similar question about pianistic performance roughly 106 years ago and it was answered in his book "Josef Hofmann. Piano Playing: With Piano Questions Answered"

Josef Hofmann. Piano Playing: With Piano Questions Answered {1909} (Kindle Locations 2016-2021).

Is there any justification for the swaying of the body, the nodding of the head, the exaggerated motion of the arms, and all grotesque actions in general while playing the piano, so frequently exhibited not only by amateurs but by concert players, too?

All such actions as you describe reveal a lack of the player's proper self-control when they are unconsciously indulged in. When they are consciously committed, which is not infrequently the case, they betray the pianist's effort to deflect the auditors' attention from the composition to himself, feeling probably unable to satisfy his auditors with the result of his playing and, therefore, resorting to illustration by more or less exaggerated gesture. General well-manneredness, or its absence, has a good deal to do with the matter.

This book is very interesting to the guitarist, I think, because the majority of answers to musical questions can apply to any instrument. This artist was one of the most technically proficient pianists in the history of the piano and, luckily for us, could express his thoughts in a coherent manner. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Hofmann

I've been reading this book for years and continue to discover solutions to guitaristic issues.

To download this book free: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/39211

soltirefa
Posts: 2424
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by soltirefa » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:05 pm

I hate it when a guitarist gestures to me a garden variety G major chord.

Image

eduardodiazlopez

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by eduardodiazlopez » Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:11 am

I don't think they are essential, but when they are authentic is great to see a player playing with so much passion.

Malcolm
Posts: 987
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:42 am
Location: Brisbane Australia

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Malcolm » Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:22 am

I was just watching BBC's Last Night of the Proms and enjoyed a wonderful performance of Bruch's Violin Concerto played by Nicola Benedetti. There was a lot of swaying from both the soloist and the orchestra, and she looked like she was in heaven (I was there with her), but none of them looked like a) they were witnessing the Second Coming, or, b) they were having teeth extracted without anaesthetic.

When it's natural and spontaneous it's great to watch but when it's forced and deliberate it spoils the performance.

Cheers,
Malcolm

BTW the fact that she is drop dead gorgeous had absolutely nothing to do with it :shock: :oops:
When I was ten, I thought my parents knew everything. When I became twenty, I was convinced they knew nothing. Then, at thirty, I realized I was right when I was ten.

Mark Twain

coppice

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by coppice » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:35 am

dedos wrote:Josef Hofmann was asked a similar question about pianistic performance roughly 106 years ago and it was answered in his book All such actions as you describe reveal a lack of the player's proper self-control when they are unconsciously indulged in. When they are consciously committed, which is not infrequently the case, they betray the pianist's effort to deflect the auditors' attention from the composition to himself, feeling probably unable to satisfy his auditors with the result of his playing and, therefore, resorting to illustration by more or less exaggerated gesture. General well-manneredness, or its absence, has a good deal to do with the matter.
Maybe he's not making his point very well, but it appears his ideal performer would be a robot.

RichardUno
Posts: 649
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:29 pm
Location: Land of Fruits and Nuts

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by RichardUno » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:29 pm

Jascha Heifetz was famous for being stone-faced; no matter how difficult or emotional the music, his facial expression never changed. Like great comedians, he could also keep a straight face while being funny:

[media]https://youtu.be/Aumx4cfygFo[/media]

coppice

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by coppice » Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:10 am

RichardUno wrote:Jascha Heifetz was famous for being stone-faced; no matter how difficult or emotional the music, his facial expression never changed. Like great comedians, he could also keep a straight face while being funny:
His expression was a part of his stage presence. He used it to good effect to portray a certain air. There was nothing robotic about it.

Arthur Becker

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Arthur Becker » Fri Jun 19, 2015 1:36 pm

I do not consider them essential. As long as they take a back seat to the music, I don't mind them. In some instances, they can be part of the performance to convey levity or some other particular emotion you would like the audience to understand. I have seen some amateur performances where the player kept contorting their face all over and often even jerking their body around... It was distracting.

User avatar
jpryan
Posts: 361
Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2012 1:09 am
Location: San Diego, California

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by jpryan » Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:59 pm

I agree with this. I've seen players tone down the unconcious "grotesque actions" as they gained experience. They are part of the performance and if they detract then they should be gotten under control. (Assuming the performer is trying to please as much of the audience as possible.)
dedos wrote:Josef Hofmann was asked a similar question about pianistic performance roughly 106 years ago and it was answered in his book "Josef Hofmann. Piano Playing: With Piano Questions Answered"

Josef Hofmann. Piano Playing: With Piano Questions Answered {1909} (Kindle Locations 2016-2021).

Is there any justification for the swaying of the body, the nodding of the head, the exaggerated motion of the arms, and all grotesque actions in general while playing the piano, so frequently exhibited not only by amateurs but by concert players, too?

All such actions as you describe reveal a lack of the player's proper self-control when they are unconsciously indulged in.
--John

Write_Rich

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Write_Rich » Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:55 pm

I always thought I was one of those stoic relaxed expressionless players and was quite happy about it. Iceman guitarist and all that! But after recording myself playing I discovered that I occasionally have some weird unintentional facial movements. What the hell!? Recording oneself is truly eye opening (and recommended) in many ways. I took the easy fix. Rather then trying to eliminate these facial ticks and surely messing up my performance I accepted them and moved on. I take comfort in the fact that Bream has some unintentional facial ticks when he plays and and is none the worse for wear because of it.

Another thought on facial movements. My old guitar professor told me about the "Jazz face".. Basically if you make a mistake while performing you look up to the sky and close your eyes like you meant to play those notes. 99% of the time your audience will think you are getting your groove on and not recovering from a mistake. Try it!

RichardUno
Posts: 649
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:29 pm
Location: Land of Fruits and Nuts

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by RichardUno » Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:06 pm

Write_Rich wrote:I always thought I was one of those stoic relaxed expressionless players and was quite happy about it. Iceman guitarist and all that! But after recording myself playing I discovered that I occasionally have some weird unintentional facial movements. What the hell!? Recording oneself is truly eye opening (and recommended) in many ways. I took the easy fix. Rather then trying to eliminate these facial ticks and surely messing up my performance I accepted them and moved on. I take comfort in the fact that Bream has some unintentional facial ticks when he plays and and is none the worse for wear because of it.

Another thought on facial movements. My old guitar professor told me about the "Jazz face".. Basically if you make a mistake while performing you look up to the sky and close your eyes like you meant to play those notes. 99% of the time your audience will think you are getting your groove on and not recovering from a mistake. Try it!
I guess that's better than "jazz hands," but not nearly as entertaining.

musicbyandy

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by musicbyandy » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:58 pm

ethanjamesescano wrote:
Sat May 30, 2015 2:24 am
?
Gestures and facial expressions (assuming that eye contact is a facial expression) are often essential for performance as gestures and facial expressions are often essential for cuing other performers in regards to entrances, fermata holds and other similar elements.

User avatar
Peter Lovett
Posts: 1014
Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:35 am
Location: Hobart Australia

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Peter Lovett » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:29 am

I suspect the majority of the motions and expressions are involuntary. I know that in my own case they are. Last weekend the esteemed members of the Hobart Guitar Society met, of which I am one. We started work on a prelude from one of Bach's cello suites and, as I usually play the bass line my task was simple, just play the correct note on the first and third beat. I found that towards the end I was slowly rocking to the beat like a metronome. It was completely involuntary. I have also noted during my practice sessions at home that I am making involuntary facial expressions as I engage in mortal combat with the music. They are not huge expressions or movements, a la Bream, who I find very difficult to watch because I do find his very off-putting, unlike his music.
1994 Jim Williams lattice braced, Cedar/Tasmanian Blackwood

Kurt Penner
Posts: 206
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 4:27 am

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by Kurt Penner » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:32 am

I listen with my ears, not my eyes.

soltirefa
Posts: 2424
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: are gestures and facial expression essential in a performance?

Post by soltirefa » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:41 am

I find if I have a toothpick in my mouth while I play it helps me not make as many contorted faces. Maybe that's why Tarrega had a cigarette in his lips.

Return to “Public Space”