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Almost Human: Moving Expressive Gesture from Cello to Spine


Hattwick, Ian, Seth Woods, and Marcelo M Wanderley (2014). “Almost Human: Moving Expressive Gesture from Cello to Spine”. In: Proceedings of the Workshop on Practice-Based Research in New Interfaces for Musical Expression. London, England.


Seth wearing the Spine and kneeling on the floor.

Seth Woods rehearsing with the Spine.

Developing approaches to the creation of expert performance practice on new DMIs is a longstanding research challenge. We present an approach which leverages an expert performer’s embodied knowledge of expressive performance gesture on an existing instrument. This knowledge forms the basis for the creation of a performance practice of expressive gestures an a new DMI.

The research process took place in five stages: observation of musical performance on an existing instrument, analysis of the observed expressive gestures, transformation of these gestures for the new instrument, creation of an artistic work utilizing these gestures, and ultimately the reproduction of these gestures in performance. The results of this research may prove useful to performers seeking to adopt a new DMI into their performance practice, instrument designers seeking to characterize expressive gestural affordances for new DMIs, and researchers seeking to understand the role of personal performance practice in the manifestation of expressivity.


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