chapter  12
19 Pages

‘She’s the one’: Multiple Functions of Body Movement in a Stage Performance by Robbie Williams

WithJane W. Davidson

This chapter outlines the theoretical issues that are central to understanding the role of the body in music as a communicative force. It focuses on how our bodies influence performance capability, including how instruments are designed in response to our physical shape and capacities. The pop performer seems to have multiple social tasks to execute in a performance situation: they present their musical material and its narrative; they interact with their co-performers to coordinate the performance task; and they have to communicate with and sometimes interact with the audience. Studies of different musicians demonstrate that body movements have a similar function to the physical gestures that accompany speech. Musical communication seems to use body movement ‘grammars’ which have semantic codes, determined by their specific cultural contexts. The physical movement is evidently pleasurable, perhaps adding to the sense of cohesion, as they all literally coordinate in their body movement, as well as, of course, sharing in singing the song.