Incarnated Sound in Music for Flesh II: Defining Gesture in Biologically Informed Musical Performance


  • Marco Donnarumma


Think about your body. Consider its capability of channeling articulate information with a single gaze, the dramatic force of a gesture propulsed by muscle tissue contractions, the sympathetic rhythmic changes in the heartbeat when
listening to someone else’s palpitations, the meaningful shifting patterns of the brain wave cycles when drifting from relaxation to heightened mental activity. These are nothing but physiological and intimate processes that become externalized to affect the people and the space surrounding us. Once tangible, those processes can be captured, observed, strumentalized or augmented through technology, and become therefore informative (or shall we say informatic) media that are biological in nature.

In contemporary electronic music performance this paradigm has exposed creative strategies that had been overlooked so far. This article places the biological media in the ”˜broken ground’ where body and computational system interact musically with each other. It questions and defines the qualities of a gesture in the context of biologically sensitive musical instruments, providing therefore a framework to introduce a visceral model of electronic music performance; one in which the sonic matter incarnated within the tissues of the body rises and breaks through the skin to become tangible and shared experience