Embodied knowledge: the case of ensemble performance

McCaleb, James Murphy (2012) Embodied knowledge: the case of ensemble performance. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.


Download (1MB)


Ensemble performance requires interaction to a degree rarely found outside of music. Current research on ensembles has increasingly focused on the communicative properties of performers’ physical gestures. However, this approach presupposes that communication underlies most ensemble interaction, disregarding the wealth of non-communicative interaction which may occur. In examining this topic, I have formulated three questions:

• How do musicians interact and share information with each other while performing?
• To what extent does the musical content being performed affect the ways it has to be physically created by musicians? • How does the physical relationship between the performer and their instrument relate to communicative and interactive processes of ensemble performance?

I argue that musicians’ physical motions could not only be influenced by musical content but also be required for effective performance. These motions may be interpreted as meaningful by observers and co-performers. My research applies rehearsal observation and reflective practice within the framework of action research, allowing me to collaborate with Birmingham Conservatoire’s Boult Quartet (a postgraduate string quartet) and The Supergroup (an improvising ensemble of doctoral students) in examining the complexities of ensemble performance through an understanding of its phenomenologies, contributing to current cross-disciplinary research on embodied knowledge.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
February 2012Completed
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Richard Birley
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2017 14:27
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:54
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4924

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


In this section...