Composing under the Skin
The Music-making Body at the Composer's Desk
Fingers slipping over guitar strings, the tap of a bow against the body of a cello, a pianist humming along to the music: contemporary composers often work with parasitic, non-conventional sounds such as these. Are they to be perceived as musical elements or do they shift attention to the physical effort of music-making, contact between a body and an instrument? Composer Paul Craenen explores ways in which the musician’s body is revealed in musical performance. He leads us from Cage, Lachenmann, Kagel, and their contemporaries to a discussion of how today's generation of young composers is writing a body paradigm into composition itself. Micro-temporal physical gestures and instrumental timbre provide the key to unveiling the physical presence of both a musician and a “composing body. The author's concept of “intercorporeality,” along with the idea of an alternating linear and nonlinear relationship of the composing body to time, casts new light on the relationships among musicians, composers, and music consumers.
Paul Craenen is director of Musica, Impulse Centre for Music.