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Embodying Expression, Gender, Charisma –
Breaking Boundaries of Classical Instrumental Practices


To explore the meaning of the body of classical instrumentalists as a determining factor in musical expression and to recognise how musical expression manifests in and through the body, a performer re-enacts interpretations of selected performances by different soloists. ‘Re-enacting Embodiment’ is about slipping into the experience of another corporeality and consciously compare it with one’s own corporeality to then reflect on it systematically. The method includes six steps in a full cycle:

Artistic Research based on Practice: The method of ‘Re-enacting Embodiment’

Eugène Ysaÿe's "Ballade" performed by Barbara Lüneburg; version 1: August 2021

'Re-enacting Embodiment' in six steps

    1. The selection of a work from solo violin repertoire as a case study, which is available as an audiovisual documentation by at least one established soloist (henceforth referred to as XY). The documented interpretation of XY will serve as the basis for the re-enactments in steps 3 and 4.
    2. The development and audiovisual documentation of BL’s or DD’s own interpretation of the solo composition selected in step 1, prior to re-enacting the interpretation of XY.
    3. Auditory re-enactment of the work in the interpretation of XY by only listening to XY’s interpretation using one’s own bodily repertoire.
    4. Visual re-enactment of the work as played by XY, this time exactly emulating XY’s body language.
    5. While pursuing steps 3 and 4 we ask: How does the conscious appropriation of XY’s movement repertoire affect our own interpretation and self-perception? How does the embodiment of movement patterns foreign to us enrich our musical expressive and performative agency? How can we reflect embodied techniques theoretically and practically in phenomenological observations, academic text, and artworks?
    6. After experiencing and reflecting on the re-enactment follows a renewed interpretation and audiovisual documentation of the selected work. This version is not a documentation of any of the re-enactments, but a new personal interpretation based on the work with the method. The result of steps 5 and 6 are used for comparison and evaluation purposes.

Pilot Project: Testing the method 'Re-Enacting Embodiment' on Eugène Ysaÿe's "Ballade"

Barbara Lüneburg currently pursues a pilot study. The set up of the pilot study will be explained following the steps of the method described before.

    Step 1: For her pilot study she chose Ysaÿe’s Violin Sonata No. 3 Ballade of which there are two different audiovisual documentations of famous soloists –a male and a female– available: Maxim Vengerov and Hilary Hahn.
    Step 2: Barbara Lüneburg documented her personal interpretation of Ysaÿe's Ballade in a first version.
    Step 3: After first working on her personal interpretation of the Ballade, she will next re-enact two interpretations of the same work by said male and a female soloist (Maxim Vengerov and Hilary Hahn) which are both available as YouTube videos. She first separates the audio track from the visual image to analyse the audio interpretations in detail, and then reproduces the audio as precisely as possible with her own repertoire of embodied techniques. This process is currently pursued by her.
    Step 4: In a further, more extreme step, she re-enacts the visual interpretation embodied in arm movements, gestures, facial expressions and postures of the individual soloists as seen in the YouTube videos. While recreating the visual body language as precisely as possible, she closely observes her body and its role in the formation and reproduction of expression and gender.
    Step 5: She reflects on how embodying another person's interpretation and body language changes and shapes her knowledge of her personal embodied techniques. This will be reflected in research journals, on the research catalogue and in a later stage of the project through artworks.
    Step 6: After the re-enactment experiences she renews her personal interpretation and audiovisual documentation of the Ballade for comparison purposes.


The process, her observations and her conclusions will be documented on the research catalogue, the database for artistic research (https://www.researchcatalogue.net/)

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Embodying Expression, Gender Charisma is funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF as project PEEK AR 749-G and is located at the Anton Bruckner Private University in Austria. The project has a runtime of forty months starting in August 2022.