The Performance Gesture as a Theatrical Reflection of New Contexts of Genre and Style in Contemporary Piano Music

Keywords: the pianist’s gesticulation; the conductor’s gesticulation; sound (cluster, voice, percussive effects in the strings) and non-sound (theatricalized) gestures; new music; the art of performance.


The article deals with the expressive role
of gestures in the art of piano performance
in relation to both classical and contemporary
music. According to theoretical analysis,
it is demonstrated that the issue of the
performance gesture in contemporary music,
in connection with the theatricalization of
performance, as well as due to the fact that
performance in many cases acquires the
features of visual play-acting, stands out from
the overall issue of artistry.
The general provisions of the artistic gesture
in contemporary piano music are
complemented by multiple positions related
to the art of playing the clusters, strings,
pedals, using sound gestures, as well as
theatricalization of the performed musical
The article provides a detailed description
of the categories of gestures adopted in the
practice of modern music. They are: gestures
related to performance of clusters; interspersed
with verbal sounds in the process of playing the piano, the so-called verbal and sound
gestures; related with playing on the strings
by using fingers, sticks or other items; associated
with playing pedals; theatricalized gestures.
In conclusion: the expansion of the
boundaries of musical language, and the
emergence of performances and theatricalized
compositions in performance practice has led
to the expansion of the thesaurus
of performance gestures’ and of its informative
functions. In contemporary music gesture has
become a bearer of meaning and forms one of
the strata providing meaning to composition.

The Art of Music