chapter  3
16 Pages

Hearing, Feeling, Grasping Gestures

WithArnie Cox

This chapter examines the question of what motivates and structures conceptualization of music in terms of ‘gestures’, and what sense there might be in using ‘gesture’ in addition to, or instead of, the often coextensive ‘motive’ and/or ‘figure’. Musical gestures are musical acts, and our perception and understanding of gestures involves understanding the physicality involved in their production. The strength of each form of mimetic participation varies from person to person, which establishes variability in the meanings that we derive from musical experience, including the meaning of ‘gesture’. ‘Gesture’ is one such concept, and while it might be extended to include large-scale relationships, and perhaps to other less immediate events and relations, the more immediate events and relations that are roughly coextensive with ‘motives’ and ‘figures’ are in a sense more viscerally engaging and thus more meaningful. The embodied feelings motivate conceptualization in terms of basic, concrete experience, and these include ‘gesture’ as well as the quasi-objective spatial conceptions.